Life, Death and Data: data collection, use and interpretation in 2020

Ellen Broad

Australian National University

2020 has been a year of bushfires and floods, sickness and lockdown, and economic, social and political upheaval. Through it all, how data is collected, how it is curated and analysed, and how decision makers and the public use it have been themes never far from the surface of these changes in society. We explore key moments in 2020 and what they reveal to us about future data trends shaping our roles as data custodians, architects, analysts and re-users.

Ellen is a writer, researcher and Senior Fellow with the 3A Institute, founded by Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell within the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Australian National University. Ellen has spent more than a decade working in the technology sector in Australia, the UK and Europe, in roles spanning policy, standards and engineering for organisations including CSIRO’s Data61, the Open Data Institute in the UK and as an adviser to UK Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss. She is a frequent keynote speaker and writer on AI and governance issues and has written for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist and Griffith Review. She is the author of Made by Humans: the AI Condition (Melbourne University Publishing, 2018) and co-designer of a board game about open data, alongside ODI Vice President Jeni Tennison, that is being played in 19 countries.

The use of modelling and analytics in a data poor environment to sustainably deal with COVID-19 and beyond in Indonesia

Mahesh Prakash

CSIRO, Data61, Docklands GS



Indonesia like many other large developing nation complex democracies has had to face many challenges associated with COVID-19 including ones that are significantly related to humanitarian and economic challenges. The relative lack of good quality and open data and a robust testing regime also leads to significant challenges associated with predicting the spread of the virus and containment strategies. These issues as well as Indonesia’s longer term aims of becoming a more data driven society has led CSIRO’s Data61 to take a multi-pronged and non-traditional approach to modelling and analytics. Our aim is to provide support to organisations in Indonesia such as the UN Pulse Labs Jakarta in dealing with the immediate needs of various provinces in Indonesia as well as to work in close collaboration with them to help facilitate bringing the country back on the path to recovery through multi-disciplinary data driven insights. This talk will provide an overview of the work being carried out by CSIRO’s Data61 in collaboration with partners in Indonesia using social media based insights focussed on early warning and mobility, agent based mobility modelling and going forward possible integration with a range of non-traditional dynamic economic indicator related metrics derived from Earth Observation sources.


I am the Project Leader for the collaborative project being carried out by CSIRO’s Data61 in Indonesia in partnership with various agencies including the UN Pulse Labs Jakarta. The team in Data61 is heavily multi-disciplinary in nature and includes experts in Natural Language Processing, Epidemiological Modelling, Agent Based Mobility (transportation) Modelling, Earth Observation Modelling and Analytics and Software Engineering and Visualisation. Our aim is to leverage the crisis situation currently facing Indonesia and use it to capacity build agencies in Indonesia with advanced methods in Data Analytics and Modelling that can be utilised well beyond the immediate needs of this pandemic. We are doing this via building trusted partnerships and developing open source scalable tools on the cloud. I am also a Group Leader and Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO’s Data61.

Fast and Accurate Training of an AI Radiologist on the Zenith Supercomputer

Andrew Underwood1

1Director, HPC & AI Dell EMC


The health care industry is expected to be an early adopter of AI and deep learning to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and speed up diagnosis. We have developed models for using AI to diagnose pneumonia, emphysema, and other thoracic pathologies from chest x-rays. Using the Stanford University CheXNet model as inspiration, we explore ways of developing accurate models for this problem with fast parallel training on Zenith, the Intel Xeon-based supercomputer at Dell EMC’s HPC and AI Innovation Lab. We explore various network topologies to gain insight into what types of neural networks scale well in parallel and improve training time from days to hours. We then explore transferring this learned knowledge to other radiology subdomains, such as mammography, and whether this leads to better models than developing subdomain models independently.

Spatial Performance Environment Command Transmission Realities for Astronauts (SPECTRA)

Sarah Jane Pell1

1Artist-Astronaut, Adjunct Assoc. Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Office of the Engineering Dean, and Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University


Sarah Jane Pell has performed with gesture-controlled robots underwater, dragged prototype 360° cameras up Mt. Everest, launched artworks into space, and bounced images on the Moon’s surface via radio waves. The real work is in recognizing the signals as a dialogue with the extreme environment.

In her 2018 eResearch Australasia Keynote, Pell will explore the role that art and technology has played and continues to play in shifting understandings of human exploration. What are the stakes—social, ethical, ontological— in appropriating astronautics for artistic purposes for example? What are the consequences, both intended and not, of placing artworks/artists into diverse cultural contexts, from the space analogue to the launch vehicle? What would it take to RSVP YES to #DearMoon?

An Australia Council Fellowship in Emerging and Experimental Arts supported her latest Performing Astronautics projects. She highlights the impact of cinematic-robotic and immersive visualization technology vital to understanding and assisting human movement, including working as an artist astronaut. Pell is uniquely positioned as a commercial diver, commercial spaceflight candidate, and spacesuit validation test pilot. She qualified for a polar suborbital mission specialist, and served as the Simulation Astronaut for Project Moonwalk subsea lunar analogue human-robotic co-operation trials 2016; Artist-in-Residence for the Mars Desert Research Station Crew188, and Commander of Lunares 3 Crew Spectra Mission 2018. Former Chair of the European Space Agency (Topical Team Art & Science), graduate of the International Space University, and NASA consultant, Pell champions sci-art approaches and human spaceflight as priorities for the new Australian Space Agency.

Supporting human ingenuity with AI

David Smith1

1Cloud Developer Advocate, Microsoft


AI is revolutionizing the types of data that can be applied to research with new ways of collecting and extracting information, and new ways to make predictions and inferences. In this talk, I will provide an overview of some of Microsoft’s AI services, and show how AI can be used to advance research with examples from Microsoft’s AI for Earth and AI for Accessibility programs.



is Cloud Developer Advocate for Microsoft, specializing in the topics of artificial intelligence and machine learning. With a background in statistics and data science, he is the editor of the Revolutions blog ( where he has written about applications of data science with a focus on the programming language “R” since 2009. He is also a co-author of the R manual “Introduction to R”, and a member of the board of directors for the R Consortium. He lives with his husband and two Jack Russell terriers in Chicago. Follow David on Twitter as @revodavid.

The resolution revolution in molecular imaging – new challenges and opportunities for structural biologists

Professor James Whisstock1

1Director, Australian Research Council (ARC), Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging


The development of a new generation of electron microscopes and direct electron detectors is permitting structural biologists to determine near-atomic resolution insights into hard-to-study macromolecular assemblies both in vitro and in situ. EM-based workflows for structure determination present major new challenges for the life science community, particularly with respect to efficient processing of large datasets. This talk will focus on current approaches for EM data analysis, together with a discussion of likely future developments in the field of biological Electron Microscopy.

Sharing Data: Improving Lives – challenges and solutions in a privacy-sensitive world

Professor David V Ford1

1Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, Wales, UK, SA2 8PP,


The case for sharing data, linking it together, and using it to support policy and service improvement has been made many times.  However, despite the obvious benefits, it happens far more rarely than one might expect.  This talk explores some of the reasons, spoken and unspoken, why this is the case and describes how these challenges have been addressed in Wales’s SAIL DataBank, and describes how carefully designed software platforms, such as the UK’s Secure E-Research Platform (SeRP), can help groups and jurisdictions make progress.

Recent Comments


    About the conference

    eResearch Australasia provides opportunities for delegates to engage, connect, and share their ideas and exemplars concerning new information centric research capabilities, and how information and communication technologies help researchers to collaborate, collect, manage, share, process, analyse, store, find, understand and re-use information.

    Conference Managers

    Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

    © 2018 - 2020 Conference Design Pty Ltd