Combining technology and traditional knowledge to solve community challenges

The Indigenous Australian Datathon 2023 was a huge success this month, exceeding its targets for partnerships, support and the number of participants getting together to explore data to help solve a range of significant community issues.

The weekend-long event at James Cook University Ideas Lab in Cairns drew 150 people from across the innovation ecosystem including data professionals and students, including more than 70 participants identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Led by a community Elder or Leader, attendees worked in teams to address a problem faced in their community and were tasked with creating a digital solution using Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML).

One of the technology challenges examined bushfire management and the ability of Indigenous Ranger groups to access data and technologies to enable them to reduce bushfire risk and severity.

Participant Michael George from Girringun Aboriginal Rangers said combining data with the experience of First Nations people is key to bushfire management.   

“We cover 1.2 million hectares with only 12 rangers – and we’re preparing or responding to bushfires year-round,” Mr George said.

“The solution our team has designed takes the traditional knowledge and experience of rangers with data sources and AI to help our rangers have the right tools and keep our people and communities safe.”

Other technology challenges progressed over the weekend included the creation of digital twins and algorithms to improve diabetes management and improving boating safety in the Torres Strait utilising tracking technology.

Kelvin Ross, Chief Operating Officer of software quality engineering consultancy KJR is a key sponsor of the Indigenous Australian Datathon and Chair of the Queensland AI Hub. He said the event aims to connect industry and partners to help create better community outcomes.

“Building partnerships is key to creating digital opportunities for remote and regional communities, Indigenous business and people,” Mr Ross said.

“The Datathon is a key initiative to ignite the connections, understand the direction of technologies, and how it can unlock opportunity.

“It is a starting point, to build connections and foster partnership.”

The Indigenous Datathon was delivered through the Advance Queensland Deadly Innovation Strategy and the Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur to create jobs and economic wealth for First Nation Queenslanders.

It was the third time the event has been held and has previously addressed challenges such as the detection and classification of World-heritage Aboriginal rock art, an AI-enabled otoscope to detect early signs of middle ear disease, and drone technology for the detection of turtle tracks for an ongoing project with Goondoi Land and Sea Rangers.

Visit the Indigenous Australian Datathon website for more news and outcomes from the event.

Last updated 08 Nov, 2023
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