Department of Education, Western Australia

The Department of Education, Western Australia Shortens IT Device Audit from Months to Days with AWS

2021

The Department of Education, Western Australia is responsible for delivering high quality education to almost 320,000 students in over 800 schools across Western Australia. A key department focus is to build digital capabilities in its public school system to help teachers and students access and use information and communication technology (ICT).

To meet reporting requirements, the department conducts an annual computer census to understand the number and types of devices in schools across the state. This was typically a 3-month process involving manual inventory counting across all schools, financial reconciliation, and data collation.

When the census was cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020, the department sought to automate the process, and turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Consulting Partner, Kinetic IT for help.

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The benefits from automating the audit process were immediate. Device counts can be refreshed within 24 hours, allowing us to provide an audit to the Western Australia government in days, instead of 3 months. Our staff can now allocate more of their time to teaching and student engagement.”

Glenn Veen
Director ICT Governance and Planning, Department of Education, Western Australia

An Efficient and Accurate Audit

With Kinetic IT’s help, the department implemented an automated audit process where all devices such as computers, laptops, and tablets are recorded as soon as students and faculty staff log into the schools’ networks, eliminating all manual processes. In addition to saving an estimated 10,000 hours of effort, the automated system has also improved the accuracy of device count significantly.

Glenn Veen, the department’s director of ICT governance and planning, says, “The benefits from automating the audit process were immediate. Device counts can be refreshed within 24 hours, allowing us to provide an audit to the Western Australian government in 5 days, instead of 3 months. Our staff can now allocate more of their time to teaching and student engagement.”

Designing a Cost-Effective, Reliable, and Secure System

Wayne Berriman, group executive at Kinetic IT says, “A challenge we faced when creating the solution was the volume of the data we had to process and store. Using the AWS Cloud, we were able to combine a number of AWS services to provide the department with the compliance, compute power, security, and storage needed for their cloud-based audit system.”

Kinetic IT designed a data lake architecture on the AWS Cloud to help the department collect, anonymize, encrypt, and compress data at scale. Device and usage data are uploaded several times an hour from more than 800 sites, and stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) ready for processing. Around 140 billion rows and 500 TB of raw data are extracted and transformed each year through AWS Glue, which allows the running of scalable extract, transform, and load (ETL) workflows. 

To protect personally identifiable data, Kinetic IT uses encryption in transit and rest, while its proprietary algorithms anonymize the information processed in the AWS Cloud. This ensures sensitive data is secure and complies with the department’s security and privacy guidelines. After processing, in line with the department’s requirements for long term storage and retrieval, data is compressed so that less than 8 TB of Amazon S3 storage is required per year while still allowing for full functionality.

The Kinetic IT solution also segments and categorizes the data on Amazon S3. Deploying its data storage on AWS has given the department high system availability with an uptime of 99.99 percent, and helps the department avoid data loss from possible single-point-of-failure situations.

A combination of AWS Lambda and Amazon Athena is used to run regular analysis queries across the data lake. This serverless analysis approach allows the department’s data lake to store almost limitless amounts of data, while eliminating traditional database overheads and providing a cost-effective operating solution.

Device classification details and aggregated datasets are stored in Amazon Aurora, which is then used for reporting and visualization.

Better Planning to Enhance Student ICT Learning

The new census system has given the department visibility into all 340,000 devices across the school network, including 80,000 personally owned devices, which were not previously tracked. This data has informed the department’s decisions on ICT infrastructure across the state, such as purchasing new equipment, upgrading bandwidth, and allocating tech support services.

Veen observed, “With the automated census process allowing us a real-time view into the range of ICT devices used by our students and staff, we are able to provide schools with more time for teaching and learning with reduced administration overheads. With this visibility, we are now able to have a virtually real-time understanding of the types of technology in use in schools across the state.”

To Learn More

 To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/education.


About Department of Education, Western Australia

The Department of Education, Western Australia is responsible for delivering high quality education to almost 320,000 students in over 800 schools. It aims to deliver a high-quality education to all students in all learning environments and is committed to students achieving their best and being lifelong learners who actively contribute to their communities and society.

Benefits of AWS

  • Saves an estimated 10,000 hours of effort annually
  • Reduces school administrative burden allowing them to focus on delivering quality education and service
  • Migrates the computer census completion from 2-3 months once a year to having the data available in virtually real-time
  • Provides improved targeting of ICT investment and services
  • Allows long term storage for audit and trend analysis
  • Removes single-point of failure situation in the audit data storage and archival

AWS Services Used

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

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Amazon Glue

AWS Glue is a serverless data integration service that makes it easy to discover, prepare, and combine data for analytics, machine learning, and application development. 

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Amazon Athena

Amazon Athena is an interactive query service that makes it easy to analyze data in Amazon S3 using standard SQL.

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