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Australia: FutureGov Summit Showcases ICT Reforms
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Country: Australia
Created: Oct 09, 2012

Australia’s 3rd Annual FutureGov Summit (18th-19th September 2012, Canberra) wrapped up on a high note – with a distinguished panel of government officials meeting to discuss, debate, and deliver an action plan for 21st ICT reforms.

Insights were shared about the future of government – in a connected economy – and the expanded role of technology to support core service delivery programmes, including healthcare, social services, and education.

Among the highlights, Richard Windeyer, First Assistant Secretary, Digital Economy Strategy, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, observed that nearly 9 billion devices are connected to the internet. “By 2020, we expect that 24 billion such devices will connect to the internet.”

Consumer trust remains crucial to a broader adoption of the internet and broadband services, Mr Windeyer said. “We must ensure that data is secure; many people are still not online because of concerns involving security.”

Senator Kate Lundy, Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, said the Australian Government is supporting service delivery through a greater use of social media and Gov 3.0 platforms.

Governments benefit from social media apps, but they must ensure that citizen data remains secure and protected in a virtual environment, Senator Lundy said.

She flagged concerns about the potentially invasive nature of social media, adding that Twitter, where used incorrectly, could be “nasty and pervasive.”

Despite these concerns, citizens are hungry for new apps. “We can use this platform in a meaningful and positive way and appreciate that social media is a part of our daily life.”

Reinhard Posch, CIO for the Austrian Federal Government, said governments are tightening standards and interoperability for digital communications across Europe.

Among recent initiatives, European Union (EU) members are refining common standards and electronic identifier programmes to share highly-secure cross-border data involving healthcare, education, social services, and financial transactions.

“There are differences in EU privacy and cyber-security legislation,” Mr Posch noted. Common standards will ensure that member states speak the same language, while ensuring compliance with cyber-security, privacy, and financial transaction legislation.

During panel discussions, officials noted that driving down the cost of ICT procurement remained a core priority for cash-strapped governments.

“We need to be more savvy about the financial side of our business,” observed Andrew Mills, Government Chief Information Officer, with the South Australian Government. “Capital investment is getting to be much more difficult. The focus is on doing more with less.”

Mr Mills cautioned that if a technology investment did not work, “don’t try to keep the project going.” He suggested adapting to different cycles and priorities as departments’ needs evolved and changed.

A common theme about ICT cost-savings surfaced during panel discussions and more than 20 Interactive Discussion Tables (IDTs).

Faced with a smorgasbord of technology choices, agencies remain mindful about ICT cost-savings. Pressures are growing to deliver the “biggest bang for the buck” for platforms like mobile communications, cloud computing, Gov 3.0, as well as data and information management.

Technology choices were debated during the popular IDTs – enabling participants to share experiences, and learn first-hand from domestic and international solutions providers.

Delegates interacted with IDT leaders and peers during fast-paced discussions. Voting devices enabled participants to relay feedback in “real-time” about how they rated discussions and technologies-of-choice.

Platforms under the spotlight included mobile communications, bring-your-own device (BYOD), end-point security, social media, government analytics, cyber-security, cloud computing, data centre integration, shared services, and service delivery portals.

Participating agencies at the summit included the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Department of Science, Industry and Innovation (NSW), NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Australian National Audit Office, Department of Health and Ageing, Department of Defence, ComSuper, Department of Treasury, Department of Internal Affairs (NZ), e-Government Authority (Bahrain), and the Australian Taxation Office.
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