“FYLD is riding the tide of the digital transformation” – says global AI leader

Last year, we met Dr Fang Chen, the executive director of data science and distinguished professor at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and member of FYLD’s advisory board. 

Having joined FYLD to provide executive level leadership advice, Fang shared her views on why she believes FYLD is transforming the energy, utilities, transport and construction sectors through its AI-driven technology. 

We caught up with her again to get to know her a little better, including her career highlights and how the latest developments in data science are heralding a shift change in the way that companies are approaching risk management and maintenance planning. 

Q: From what you’ve already told us it sounds like you have enjoyed a very fulfilling and rewarding career, are there any achievements from your career that standout?  

A: My many career achievements is what has opened the door to collaborations with emerging companies such as FYLD.  These companies will transform entire categories of industry through the deployment of focused AI solutions, and I feel fortunate to have these types of opportunities. 

I would certainly say winning the Australian leading science award Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science in 2018 stands out! These accolades are awarded annually by the Australian Museum of Sydney to recognise individuals and organisations who have contributed to science and the understanding of science in Australia, and are globally recognised. For my industry this is like winning an Oscar you could say!  

I went onto win an award from Women in AI (WAI), a global network of female experts and professionals in the field of AI working towards a gender-inclusive industry that benefits a global society. The organisation presented me the Australia and New Zealand Award for AI in Infrastructure in 2021.  

I have also been appointed to sit on the AI advisory board for New South Wales in Australia to advise the government of the latest innovations in AI and data science, which is a role I am proud to hold. It is very exciting to be in a position where I can help governments strategies, and make the systematic move in terms of adopting evidence-based decisions. This as well as identifying road blocks and barriers, for example, privacy, ethics or the potential issues, is very rewarding.  

Through impactful successes in innovative products and services for industries, I gained many industry recognitions such as the ITS Australia National Award 2014, 2015 and 2018, and NSW iAwards 2017, VIC iAwards 2019 and 2020. She is the NSW “Water Professional of the Year” 2016, winning National and NSW “Research and Innovation Award” by Australian Water association 2018. I also received the “Brian Shackle Award” 2017 for “the most outstanding contribution with international impact in the field of human interaction with computers and information technology”. 

I have since been appointed to the inaugural NSW Government AI Advisory Board, and serve as the Co-Chair, the National Transport Data Community of Practice (NTD-CoP) at ITS Australia, the Expert Panel for National Science Foundation Singapore, Public Interest Technology Advisory Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). 

Lastly, I have across my career filed more than 30 patents in eight countries for different AI solutions focused on natural language processing, around video recognition and computer vision.  

Q: Congratulations, that is very impressive! Is that where FYLD comes in?  

A: Yes, FYLD is underpinned by AI, natural language processing and audio/video recognition and is a much-needed technology for field workers today, and tomorrow. I was very excited to hear about this technology being built and jumped at the opportunity to offer my support to bring it to market. 

Clearly I am not alone in my appreciation for the technology. FYLD was awarded the Silver accolade in the Best New Business category at the UK Business Awards 2021, which followed its win at the UK IT Industry Awards in the Emerging Technology of the year category. They have also initiated several trials with major utilities and contractors last year.  

I think there is the potential with FYLD to win even more awards! 

Q: There has clearly been a tidal wave of innovation when it comes to data science over the last three decades, and since you started working in this space, what’s next? 

A: Digital transformation is happening. It’s unavoidable and companies within these industries risk falling behind if they don’t have a plan to embrace it. FYLD is riding the tide of the digital transformation by providing the tools that will transform a traditional industry, turning it into a modern one fit for purpose to combat risk, fatigue, mental health and wellbeing and increase productivity. FYLD truly champions all of these important areas.  

Looking ahead more generally, I believe we’ll see significant developments around sensors, for example, taking different data from sensors via Internet of things (IoT) technologies and using AI or machine learning to optimise and demonstrate the significant impact in high-risk industries. For example, in the water industry, IoT sensors can be used for leak detection. The sensors that are installed next to a pipe these days can use acoustic technologies which pick up on irregular sounds.  

We can then collect those signals and analyse them to establish what sounds like a leak, how big it is, or even differentiate between a leak and the sound of traffic which can be ignored. Managing that can optimise field work, allowing field workers to establish when a fault occurs before it becomes a huge problem for the utility and general public. Thanks to advances in sensing AI, IoT and even robotics, this technology is becoming more accessible and more widely adopted in everyday settings. 

I think one of the biggest advances we will see in the coming years is the use of these technologies in the utilisation and optimisation of operational teams/skilled workers and transport vehicles. For example, maintenance teams may have three tasks to perform in one day using one vehicle. This may mean they need to load certain equipment onto that vehicle. How do they know how they’re going to best manage and optimise the route of travel on that day to complete the three tasks on time? 

Advanced machine learning and AI-driven optimisation methods, like the tech that underpins FYLD, will revolutionise the way that people’s time and the use of equipment is planned, making operations more efficient than they have ever been. 

Did you miss the first instalment of our blog series? You can still read it here: https://www.fyld.ai/global-leader-in-ai-innovations-appointed-to-fylds-advisory-board/