RMIT today announced it will open a Cloud Innovation Centre in 2020 aimed at tackling broad cybersecurity challenges with emerging technology. 

The “Cyber Ready Cloud Innovation Centre” is a partnership between the Melbourne university, the federal government and Amazon Web Services (AWS), with the US company providing the cloud computing technology and additional training.

The Australian government has tasked the new centre with addressing Australia’s cybercrime challenge, which it says directly affected one in three people last year, and costs businesses $29 billion annually.

Specifically, the government wants RMIT to help develop policy to make the 200,000 university graduates each year become “cyber ambassadors” thereby improving the country’s cyber resilience.

The RMIT Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) joins Swinburne as the second such AWS centre in the southern hemisphere and the ninth globally. The centres use AWS cloud computing technology and Amazon’s methodology for solving problems – working backwards from a desired outcome.

Announced today in Las Vegas during the annual AWS re:Invent conference, some details are yet to be confirmed, including how many students and researchers will be involved. Swinburne’s CIC has around 40 students involved but some of the larger US centres have hundreds of students.

RMIT Vice Chancellor, Martin Bean, told Which-50 as yet there is no timeframe for returning policy recommendations to the government but he will be meeting with federal ministers early next year and is aiming to begin formal programs by June 2020.

“We want to get started on challenges next year,” Bean said.

“There’s going to be the initial startup phase [of the centre]: hiring the people, getting deployed. But I’d love to think that we’d be getting going on our next challenge by midway through next year. And the first challenge, we will be working with the federal government on that.”

From Left to Right: Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director for AWS, Global Public Sector – APAC and Japan, RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE, Helen Souness, CEO of RMIT Online, Ben Butler, Global Lead, AWS Cloud Innovation Centres – Worldwide Public Sector, Iain Rouse, AWS Country Director for Public Sector in ANZ. Supplied.

When the centre opens, dedicated staff will connect students, researchers government and cybersecurity experts to solve cyber challenges. Students working on challenges will build prototypes that focus on enhancing awareness, literacy, and enablement across three information security pillars – confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

The CIC will be based in RMIT’s entrepreneurship hub, RMIT Activator, and will also collaborate across the university’s other emerging technology divisions as well as the school’s online delivery component.

Bean told Which-50, in the future he hopes to also collaborate with the Swinburne centre, which launched earlier this year and focuses on social problems like health and transport.

“Australian universities are very used to working in collaboration with each other around ideation, working with industry, etc. So I wouldn’t see any issue at all, with us being just as collaborative with Swinburne as we would be with Cal Poly [a US CIC] or any of the other CICs.”

RMIT already trains its own staff on cloud computing skills and offers students short courses in AWS.

The author traveled to AWS re:Invent as a guest of Amazon.

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