Secure Multi-Org Data-Sharing Project Six-Month Demonstration

In November 2022, the CIN announced the grant funding of two pilot projects aimed at developing innovative solutions to address connectivity challenges. These projects came as a result of consistent feedback received across CIN’s first two problem statement workshops in December 2021 and May 2022. One of the key issues identified were the challenges associated with data-sharing between government and organisations. After a competitive process the data-sharing project was awarded to a UTS team led by Prof. Ren Ping Liu and Dr. Xu Wang, and World Data Exchange. The Secure Multi-Org Data-Sharing project is now six months into development, and the team presented their progress to government representatives, industry academic and first responders at an event held by CIN on 2nd May 2023.

The project marks a breakthrough in data-sharing practices among Emergency Service Organisations (ESOs) by demonstrating, for the first time, that efficient, secure, and privacy-enhancing sharing of data across organisations is achievable. This will foster trust and collaboration among ESOs, which can improve emergency response, situational awareness, and ultimately save lives. Moreover, the project will help to establish the data-sharing and control framework as a new standard, setting a precedent for secure and privacy-preserving data-sharing practices across the emergency services, industry and beyond. The Secure Multi-Org Data-Sharing (SMODS) project has been developed in consultation with Fire and Rescue NSW and Surf Life Saving NSW with the motivation of enabling secure and efficient data-sharing amongst government agencies, and between the government and private sectors.

During the six-month demonstration, the project team established the significance of quick and accessible data-sharing during time-critical emergency responses. In order to coordinate efficient responses to emergency scenarios, teams on the ground need to have access to real-time information, including on-site videos. An aspect of the current system that is preventing this communication is the lack of a practical data-sharing framework. By implementing the ACS Data Sharing Framework, the SMODS team developed a data-sharing platform that can evaluate the varying levels of privacy needed for each group of data, assess the risk of the environment of data accessing, and manage the lifecycle of each dataset.

The project team illustrated the capabilities of their proposed data-sharing platform for the potential use-case of multi-media sharing during an emergency response. They showcased the system’s abilities for several scenarios involving SES responders, Surf Life Saving, council officers, and public communications, which were mapped to varying levels of control of the environment. The team then went on to introduce the process for controlling access to sensitive data, ranging from high-level insight of data, to censored and anonymised multi-media, to full access to raw data files. The system maps user information based on their organisational access, and the SMODS platform facilitates secure server-to-server authentication and communication, enabling seamless access to various data products.

The project team will work on the automatic generation and data products and system integrations for the 12-month demonstration.

This was an excellent opportunity for the project team to seek feedback on working integrations and improvements, and for the CIN network to understand the operation of the data-sharing system. The project team’s efforts will help to develop innovative solutions to address connectivity challenges and help improve emergency response operations.