Australia's borders to be reinforced by data science

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Australia's borders to be reinforced by data science

New team and tech as agency sheds hundreds of middle managers.

The Immigration department is building a team of data scientists and technologists to transform its capacity to assess threats to Australia’s borders.

The department this week opened a number of positions for intelligence directors and analysts, “intelligence technologists”, and data scientists to work on the transformation of its intelligence capability.

“Our intelligence division is in the midst of a transformation that is set to deliver an intelligence capability equal to the growing array of threats to Australia’s border,” the department said.

“Intelligence professionals in the division will form a hub of consolidated expertise, with some staff out-posted into business areas to provide direct support to operational decision-makers.”

The advertisements indicate that the data scientists are being recruited in Darwin, Adelaide and Hobart.

Data scientists will work on both predictive and prescriptive analytics problems, according to the department.

Where predictive analytics is about assessing likely outcomes (‘what will happen’), prescriptive will see them develop "sophisticated analytics models that calculate expected outcomes to support decision recommendation or decision automation and optimise business approaches" (‘what should I do’).

A team of technologists is being brought onboard to build systems to underpin the data science-heavy intelligence capability.

They are charged primarily with translating “ideas into functioning scripts, prototypes, applications, capabilities and capability proposals that deliver innovation and improve analysis and analytics processes”.

Five intelligence directors are also being brought onboard under the transformation, leading a variety of aspects including threat assessment, organised crime, and immigration compliance.

All roles are only taking applications until August 29. The team would likely be in place by the end of the year, according to a recruitment schedule.

The ramp-up of its intelligence resources comes as the department looks to shed between 300 and 800 mostly middle managers due to budget cuts.

The department indicated in this year’s federal budget that it also hoped to lock in $180 million worth of savings from 2017 by increasing automation, self-service and sophisticated assessment capabilities within its visa assessment operations.

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