The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has become the first government agency to operate wholly in the cloud – and is now using the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically classify records and documents.
The project, called RADICAL (Record and Document Innovation and Capture – Artificial Learning), is one of many AHRC has been able to execute since moving 100 per cent of its infrastructure to the cloud.
Previously with record keeping, the AHRC was using a flat file structure and had all sorts of problems with complex, nested folder structures, according to the commission.
To eliminate the pain points, it selected Microsoft and partner, RecordPoint, to implement a AI-infused document and records management system that uses AI to classify electronic documents. The commission has about one million documents to manage.
AHRC CIO, Ron McLay, said the migration to Microsoft cloud has been transformational for the commission and delivered high resilience and security, as well as the foundations for continuous improvement.
“Moving to the cloud meant that there was more resilience to the network. It has enhanced our security as well. It seems to me that many people have an idea that moving to the cloud means that you’re sacrificing your security, sacrificing the integrity of your network.
“But it’s actually the opposite that’s true. Microsoft as an organisation has a much greater ability to protect against zero-day threats and against substantial attempted penetrations and malicious software and phishing attacks.
“We haven’t had a security incident since we’ve moved to the cloud.”
The AHRC transitioned many of its core applications to Microsoft Azure and adopted Office 365 over three years ago, following that with a Dynamics 365 deployment. It recognised the cloud would deliver the foundations for ongoing transformation, operational improvement and enduring value, the commission said.
AHRC’s new federated data management platform – dubbed Records365 – is an AI-infused document and records management solution in SharePoint Online.
By using advanced machine learning techniques to classify documents, volume and consistency of records, the commission said the accuracy of classification has increased by 80 per cent.
The simplified user experience has driven high user uptake among commission staff who are no longer grappling with versioning and manual management, the commission said.
Additionally, AHRC staff are spending less time looking for documents with the new system eliminating all duplicates and allowing for better version control, it added.
McLay said the success at AHRC has attracted the attention of other agencies struggling with flat file structures and manual management, and grappling with versioning and duplicates.
“As we’re moving everything into RADICAL, it’s much better organised. We’re eliminating all the duplicates. We’ve introduced versioning to our staff now, so staff are spending a lot less time looking for documents or wondering about where they should save them.
“What we’ve done with our iteration of SharePoint alone is we’ve set the environment up so there’s no mandatory metadata. It’s all captured through the way we’ve set SharePoint up. We’ve avoided any third-party add-ons.
“We’ve avoided any customisations, and we’ve been very disciplined. We’ve kept it as simple as possible so that the user experience is crisp and clean and easy,” McLay said.
McLay said he’s also interested in a translation engine that can translate documents into easy English – a subset of the English language, 850 words. It’s a project he’s been working on with Microsoft for months.
“It also includes pictures, and it’s targeted to people who perhaps have English as a second language, or people whose comprehension isn’t able to deal with the full English language itself, but a subset.
“That’s exciting, because that’s helping the disabled community, and making our information more accessible to anyone who needs the services in the Human Rights Commission.”
Additionally, McLay is eyeing solutions that make sense for the disabled community. He has, for example, used Skype Broadcast to great effect.
“We want to be consuming cognitive services wherever and whenever we can find opportunities to do it. I think there are a lot of benefits for people who are visually impaired, people who have hearing issues, people who have comprehension issues.”
McLay also sees a future with chat bots – where clients call into the commission, have their query answered by the digital bots, who then swap into the language of the caller as required.
“I see that the ATO is already claiming that their digital bot is answering 90 per cent of first-time inquiries, which is quite a phenomenal rate.
“So there’s definitely a big future in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and we’re already in the cloud, so it’s there, ready for us to use.”