New South Wales' Data Analytics Centre has helped identify buildings in the state that could be at risk from unsafe cladding.
The state's minister for better regulation, Matt Kean, last month unveiled a 10-point plan in response to the London's Grenfell Tower fire. The rapid spread of the fire was blamed on the tower block's aluminium cladding.
In addition to a building product safety scheme that would ban the use of dangerous products, the government has worked to identify at-risk buildings in the state. A data audit conducted by the DAC found more than 1000 buildings in NSW with aluminium or other types of cladding.
As part of the 10-point plan, the government will seek to contact the owners or managers of those buildings to encourage inspections of the cladding. NSW Fire and Rescue will also visit the buildings.
The government's Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce was formed in June. In addition to the DAC, it includes representatives from the Department of Planning and Environment, Fire and Rescue NSW, the Office of Local Government, the Treasury, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (which houses the DAC).
The government said that the DAC pulled together a data set of more than 178,000 building records dating back to 1985. Data was drawn from development approvals and geospatial surveys, as well as data held by the government on buildings it owns or manages, and some drawn from visual inspections of buildings.
The centre then worked to narrow down the pool of buildings to find buildings that may have aluminium cladding installed. Data was validated through automated image analysis, site inspections by staff, and manual checking of development approvals on council websites.
"The DAC has played an integral role in identifying high-rise buildings with aluminium cladding," said NSW's minister for finance, services and property, Victor Dominello.
"Through its desktop audit the DAC has enabled the NSW Government to link multiple datasets and, through a process of elimination, narrow the field to a manageable cohort of around 1000 buildings."
"Without the DAC's insights, it would have been like trying to find a needle in a haystack," the minister said.
The centre's work narrowed the list of potentially affected buildings from more than 150,000 to around 1000.
"Conducting a similar audit without these digital capabilities would have been far more costly in not only money, but also time and resources," Kean said.
"However, by utilising the DAC, we've efficiently identified affected buildings and communicated with owners to address any safety concerns"
The state government launched the DAC in 2015. Dominello has previously said that the launch of the DAC and the associated legislative regime compelling government entities to hand over data could rank as his single greatest achievement in public life.
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