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  • 21 May 2018 14:59

Department of Health research project secured by Vault solves privacy challenge and wins AIIA iAward

Project solves the long-term challenge of how to support scientific research on sensitive health data for public good, without breaching the privacy of Australian citizens

The Department of Health, Agile Digital, Gulanga and Vault collectively took home the iAward for Big Data Innovation of the Year at Thursday night’s Australian Information Industry Association ACT Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. The award-winning project was recognised for demonstrating a privacy-centric Proof of Concept platform which would allow approved health scientists to collaborate on public health research while ensuring patient privacy. The project is a joint initiative involving software production house Agile Digital, Gulanga Group consultants, secure cloud provider Vault and the Australian Government, through the Department of Health. Using Agile Digital’s blockchain-backed platform and Vault Systems’ protected ASD-certified cloud, health researchers can undertake large-scale studies using consented patients’ data in a secure cloud-based environment that protects data privacy.

Understood to be the first practical application of Blockchain technology in the federal government, the Department of Health was keen to explore the creation of a data science lab environment that allowed health researchers to carry out “big data” experiments without needing direct access to patient data, and without risking re-identification of patient data.

“Data security is an important right that all Australians deserve, especially when it comes to their medical records. Future medical breakthroughs could very well hang on finding a way to balance the use of citizen’s medical data for science while still guaranteeing strict data privacy as a priority. For those reasons, we found lots of merit in being involved in this project. It is also great to team up again with Agile Digital and really push the envelope on providing highly secure cloud applications. By capitalising on blockchain technology and ASD Certified ‘Protected’ cloud, the Australian Government will possess the capability to support ‘big data’ analysis on sensitive datasets for breakthrough research, while still complying with the Australian Government’s privacy and security standards.”

“It’s a big step forward in solving the conundrum of allowing approved researchers to perform data science experimentation on consented Australian’s data while prioritising citizen data privacy,” said Vault Systems Founder and CEO, Rupert Taylor-Price.

“The AIIA's iAwards is a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate cutting-edge technology and innovation developed by Australian companies. The project between the Department of Health, Agile Digital, Gulanga and Vault Systems illustrates how the synergy between Australian organisations can have a sizable impact on security and research,” said Rob Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer of the AIIA.

During the project, the Department of Health was able to use a blockchain-backed data science platform to notarise which researcher undertook data science experiments, what data was “touched” by their experiment, and what aggregate results they received from the analysis. A further benefit is that this platform allows health researchers to collaborate whilst irrefutably claiming credit for their individual hypotheses and results.

This initiative allowed the Department of Health to demonstrate that data science experiments can be managed by a research platform that ensures individual patient records don’t need to be released to researchers. By intermediating all access to health records it was also able to ensure that inappropriate behaviour, such as attempts to identify individuals, is very difficult to carry out and easy to detect.

“Agile Digital prides itself on developing and supporting next-generation cloud-based solutions that support Australian government services without putting personal privacy at risk,” said, David Elliot, Executive Director at Agile Digital. “Through this project, we were able to leverage blockchain technology and Vault Systems’ secure cloud to ensure that our personal records never leave secure storage. This approach can play a vital role in ensuring publically funded researchers are able to draw scientific value from sensitive datasets, without needing access to individual records.”

The Proof-of-Concept platform is now also being considered by other government agencies in unlocking research value from sensitive datasets beyond the health portfolio.


About Vault Systems

Vault Systems delivers ASD certified Government Cloud to Australian federal, state and local government agencies and their partners. Unlike proprietary cloud platforms, where application of Australian Government security standards were managed as an afterthought, Vault's Government cloud platform was purpose built with the sole intention of managing sensitive Australian data at the highest levels of security. Vault's cloud platform natively embeds security controls to meet the requirements of Government, while providing extensive scalability, flexibility and remaining cost effective.

Vault Systems is a trusted cloud provider within government and is working closely with major government departments, including the Digital Transformation Agency, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Employment, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Services and Department of Defence. Vault’s services are delivered through partners including Agile Digital, Fujitsu, Leidos, RXP, Accenture, ASG amongst others.

For further information, please visit

About Agile Digital

Agile Digital was founded by uber-geeks committed to demonstrating leadership in complex and large-scale software development. This expert software development house has a track record spanning over 10 years for the successful design, delivery & operation of high-stakes software systems. A specialised focus on developer talent, disciplined agile processes and the latest in proven technical approaches has seen Agile Digital deliver successes where many software development efforts continue to struggle.

Agile Digital is based in Canberra, bookended by two world-class universities, and engaged with the vibrant technology and innovation communities of the capital region. This premier software production house has delivered for clients from global powerhouses and Tier 1 public-sector organisations through to innovative startups. Agile Digital are proud to have shared their decade of success with innovative clients including, Schneider Electric, IP Australia and Data61.

For further information, please visit

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