Into its third year, the flagship FutureGov Forum Western Australia was a gathering for key departments and industry stakeholders from Western Australia, and major states. These included NSW, Queensland, and Victoria. International governments were represented from the US, New Zealand and Europe.
During a keynote address, Mr Colin Murphy, Auditor-General WA Office of the Auditor-General noted the focus is on independent and impartial audits involving technology and telecommunications. Increasingly, governance and accountability takes a front seat.
An emphasis on accountability coincides with moves to improve information security, especially for mobile and wireless communications, the confidentiality of databases, and increasingly cyber-security.
In an interconnected environment, agencies must address information security gaps, while ensuring that ICT investments are secured, Mr Murphy said. “Agencies should perform their own gap analysis and develop a security improvement plan.”
Recent audits show that agencies remain vulnerable to computer system failures, unauthorised access, loss of information and fraudulent activity.
Working in a secure, protected, and dynamic space involves a deeper appreciation of the ICT landscape. “Know your computing environments and threat landscape to understand dependencies and exposure levels.”
Information and cyber-security concerns surfaced during an Interactive Discussion Table, led by the Washington-based National Institute of Standards and Technology Manager for Security Outreach, Mr Kevin Stine.
He said that tackling information and cyber-security gaps is a key concern for the US Government. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a key agency refining the administration’s cyber-security policy.
This NIST effort involves a global outreach programme, incorporating Europe, and more recently, Asia-Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.
In February 2014, NIST released a comprehensive Cyber-security Framework for government, as well as the financial, energy, and healthcare sectors. This policy seeks to protect critical systems, while securing information and physical assets from cyber-attacks.
This framework stems from an Executive Order by President, Barack Obama, to protect critical infrastructure and improve cyber-security. It was crafted through public-private collaboration, and offers a “common language” to address and manage cyber-risk.
On the digital engagement front, Australia ranks as 12th in terms of leadership, noted Professor Alistair Barros, Head of Service Sciences Discipline, Information Systems School at the Queensland University of Technology.
He added that “e-Government maturity” incorporates stages. These stages involve an emerging presence that incorporates catalogued services, as well as links to individual departments, and published material.
Mr Barros flagged the success of social media during the Queensland floods in 2011. This was an example of innovative citizen engagement. “During the Brisbane floods, social media became a platform that delivered fast, effective information broadcasting that saved lives.”
This engagement featured between 14,000–16,000 Tweets/hour using #qldfloods. It also incorporated timely information about flood peaks. Moreover, mobile channels came to the forefront when public connectivity or infrastructure was compromised.
Agencies and disaster response organisations actively embraced Twitter to relay and share information and breaking-news updates. Successful citizen engagement is not about how citizens participate in Government’s business processes, but how Government is able to participate in citizens’ personal processes.
For a dispersed state like WA, mobile data access is revolutionising field operations, observed Mr Lance Martin, Superintendent, Communications Division, for Western Australia Police. This channel “puts the right officer at the right place with the information to do the job right.”
Mobile channels enable dispersed staff to police more effectively. This platform offers a quicker turnaround for aspects like thumb-printing, identification, or information-sharing across locations.
This agency’s mobile communications project incorporates a mobile data forensic system. This system helps manage the bulk of forensic activity, and integrates with other police systems, including computer-aided design, and an incident management system.
Coinciding with the Western Australian Government’s exploration of a Cloud Computing Strategy, the March Forum examined whether cloud adoption is a business or technology decision.
During a panel, insights were shared about the road-map for cloud computing by Mr Arnold Wong, servicing the Departments of Corrective Services and the Attorney General, Mr Arthur Nastos, Department of Culture and the Arts, and Mr Marc Dimmick from the Department of Local Government and Communities.
Discussions focused on ways to tackle complex contract arrangements, while supporting critical apps in a hosted environment. Insights were shared about building agility into cloud offerings (that is how to turn off services), and assessing storage needs. The need for elastic capacity in a cloud environment was also explored.
Delegates interacted with IDT leaders, moderators, and peers during 15 fast-paced discussions. Voting devices relayed feedback in “real-time” about technologies-of-choice and programme content.
State, national and international portfolio agencies represented included health, education, tax, finance, social and community services, local government, law enforcement, the arts, auditing, and corrective services.
A dedicated expo complemented day-long discussions. Platforms under the spotlight included mobile communications, internet services, open data, cloud computing, IT-as-a-service and cloud brokerage, data centre integration, managed print services, security, customer services transformation, service delivery innovation, and digital services.
FutureGov Forum Western Australia attracted widespread support from leading solutions providers. These were Good Technology, Telstra, IBM, Ricoh, Sitecore, Datacom, iiNet, VMWare, Interactive Intelligence, Fujitsu, HP, Coventry Group, Objective, and Sliced Tech.