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ACMA research on emerging technologies

Technological advancements are reshaping today’s regulatory environment.

Emerging technologies

Emerging technologies are providing new tools and techniques to enable more efficient and cost-effective regulatory processes for regulators and industry. These technologies pose challenges for regulators trying to maintain a balance between fostering innovation and protecting consumers.

Our occasional papers – New tech applications for regulatory outcomesEmerging technologies: Internet of Things and digital twins and Natural language processing technologies in government – explore:

  • the technology
  • how it could be used in our regulatory environment
  • the challenges, risks and opportunities it brings.

The papers are a part of the ACMA’s research program, which helps us to better understand communications and media markets and the issues that matter to Australians. Our research ensures we are well informed as a regulator, so we can assess what to do when issues arise.

Natural language processing technologies in government

Natural language processing (NLP) is a broad term for artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that analyse and process human language. NLP technologies are one of the most mature uses of AI. This paper looks at their use in different sectors and regulatory environments, exploring their benefits and risks.

Key points:

  • The use of NLP across the public and private sectors includes chatbots, virtual assistants, information translation, topic modelling, and summarising or writing text from documents.
  • In regulation, NLP can be used to identify language suggesting non-compliance, and prioritise compliance and enforcement activities. It can also review public complaints and comments.
  • NLP is likely to become more widely used by regulators in the near future.

New tech applications for regulatory outcomes

This report explores how regulatory technology (RegTech) could be applied in different sectors and regulatory environments. It looks at the benefits and risks RegTech may bring.

Highlights include:

  • RegTech is a growing global market, with Australia well-placed internationally for the development of RegTech solutions.
  • RegTech solutions can be applied across different sectors to help businesses, consumers and regulators meet current and emerging regulatory challenges.
  • The ACMA is monitoring RegTech developments and exploring how these tools could support efficient and effective regulatory practice.
  • While RegTech is an effective tool to help decision-making, it does not replace the need for human oversight. 

Internet of Things and digital twins

This report explores Internet of Things (IoT) applications and ‘digital twins’, which are virtual simulations of real-world environments enabled by IoT systems. We discuss how they can be used, including whether these technologies can help regulatory decision-making in the medium to long term.

Highlights include:

  • IoT devices are becoming increasingly widespread with the rollout of 5G, the lowering cost of sensors and advancement in data storage and processing.
  • In the short term, digital twins are most likely to benefit regulators with remits on the planning and management of built and natural environments, including infrastructure, transport, and environmental regulators. 
  • In the future, communications regulators could use IoT to monitor and analyse spectrum data on a large scale.
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