​Border protection hones in on data using IBM's Watson

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection will be using IBM's Watson platform to examine useful information hidden in unstructured data sources such as news feeds and government reports.

Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection has announced that it will be using IBM's cognitive computing platform Watson to tap into further sources of relevant information.

The department hopes to be able to make further observations from unstructured data sources such as news feeds and government reports.

Randall Brugeaud, acting deputy secretary of intelligence and capability, said the use of Watson has the potential to serve up large amounts of useful data without overloading analysts.

"We are hoping that Watson will allow us to more effectively manage the information overload problem by detecting signals in the very noisy world of unstructured, open-source data," he said.

"Being able to rapidly expose connections between otherwise isolated threads will allow us to become more effective in our mission."

The department said the move comes as part of a broader program to enhance its capabilities and integrate with its operational arm, the Australian Border Force, from July 1, 2015.

In early April, the department said it is going to establish an accountability task force, and is revamping its information management practices after an employee accidentally sent personal details of G20 world leaders -- including passport numbers, visa details, and dates of birth -- to Asian Cup organisers.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is not the only Australian organisation using Watson; last October, ANZ unveiled its Watson Engagement Advisor Tool, which will help the bank observe customer insights via the platform's cloud-based, data-driven analytics to help its financial advice team deliver an improved advice process.

IBM also partnered with Victoria's Deakin University and the University of South Australia at the beginning of 2015 to launch cognitive computing courses to give students unprecedented access to Watson technology.

Additionally, Deakin planned to use Watson to develop an online student engagement advisor. The student advisor application would deliver online access via the web and mobile devices for the university's 50,000 students.

IP Australia conducted a 12-week trial of IBM's Watson to explore opportunities to enhance its online service offerings.

IBM's expansion of the Watson platform in Australia follows the company's launch of Watson Analytics last September, with Big Blue claiming the platform as a big data game changer that would allow the average business user to employ data analysis technology.