ACS Immediate Past President Dr Ian Oppermann has been featured on a list of global data analytics innovators, recognising his global leadership in the field of data science.

Advisory firm Corinium recently published its list of 2022 Global Top 100 Innovators in Data and Analytics, which featured Dr Oppermann along with data experts from around Australia.

Reflecting on his upcoming work in 2022, Dr Oppermann said he was focusing on three areas in his role as Chief Data Scientist for the NSW Government: smart cities, AI, and data sharing.

“In the smart cities case, the New South Wales Government has set up the Smart Places Acceleration Fund,” Dr Oppermann said.

“We’re about halfway through allocating that fund and the projects we are seeing are becoming increasingly innovative and ambitious.

“These projects are all about the outcomes, getting meaningful indicators in place, and building those journeys of community and even journeys of infrastructure.”

That program has been funded to the tune of $45 million and has seen money go toward projects like the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s trial of smart water meters in up to 250 households to better understand residential water demand.

When it comes to AI, Dr Oppermann said his main focus is on the NSW AI Assurance Framework which comes into effect in March this year.

The framework is designed to ensure that AI products built and used by the state government are consistent with its AI Ethics Policy.

“When it does [come into effect], we then need to build it into an actual tool, which will have AI in it, which means it needs to be reviewed by our AI committee,” he said.

“Bringing that to life and making sure that we have a useful yet generic assurance framework to apply to all AI projects in the state will be important.”

Finally, Dr Oppermann is hoping to move the chains further on getting a data sharing standard completed with the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

“We aren’t likely to get it over the line this year,” he admitted. “It’s a consensus building process.

“We want this to encapsulate as much data usage as possible, and we have spent a lot of time trying to put our arms around everything, which takes time, but we were determined to do it.

“Building consensus on every use of data is a big job.”

Dr Oppermann has long been working on developing a data sharing framework to help organisations minimise the risk of re-identifying individuals from datasets.

It was a framework he put to the test at early in the COVID-19 pandemic when Data NSW published information about positive cases to its website.

Other Australians recognised for their data and AI expertise in the Corinium list include NAB’s Chief Data Scientist Amy Shi-Nash, Telstra’s Chief Data and AI Officer Noel Jarrett, and the University of NSW’s Chief Data and Insights Officer Kate Carruthers.