by Bonnie Gardiner

NSW to see Australia’s first government data analytics centre

Aug 04, 2015
Big DataGovernmentGovernment IT

The New South Wales Government has announced plans to establish Australia’s first whole-of-government data analytics centre to limit bureaucracy and improve regulation and innovation efforts.

The centre, which will be hosted at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Data Arena, is being established by the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation during its start-up phase. After the first 12 months, management will be transferred to the Department of Innovation and Better Regulation.

Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, announced the government’s intentions at the UTS Data Arena Monday night.

“Data is one of the greatest assets held by government, but when it’s buried away in bureaucracy it is of little value,” Dominello said.

“Whether it’s tackling crime, combatting obesity or addressing housing affordability, we cannot hope to develop solutions to the long-term challenges that our state faces without an effective whole-of-government data sharing platform.”

The initiative will serve as a data sharing platform between government agencies, providing greater interoperability and insight into the effectiveness of existing programs and policies. The NSW Government will draw from the data to support ongoing policy development and ensure investment is targeted to programs with the greatest benefit.

The use of data and data analytics is consistent with the NSW Government’s Digital + ICT strategy, which recognises the need for a digital transformation of government services, Dominello told CIO.

The initiative follows the example of New Zealand, New York City and the State of Michigan where data analytics has successfully been used to improve the lives of citizens through better targeted and more coordinated government service delivery.

A specialist government steering committee is advising on the establishment of the centre, helping to identify priorities for the first 12 months of the centre’s operations, as well as assisting in the design of principles for data sharing, analytics and storing of data.

The committee includes experts such as the NSW privacy commissioner Dr Elizabeth Coombs; NSW chief scientist and engineer, Mary O’Kane; NSW customer service commissioner, Mike Pratt; and NSW information commissioner, Liz Tydd.

Once the centre has been fully established, the committee will be dissolved, and an advisory board will form to guide the future direction of the centre’s priorities. Members of the advisory board will be drawn from NSW Government, industry and the research sector, and will report to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation.

Both the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and the Australian Computer Society (ACS) have commended the NSW Government for its foresight.

AIIA Chair Kee Wong said: “As we mature into a knowledge-based economy, the role of data and the ability to link data from multiple sources, supported by appropriate privacy and security, will drive more effective and innovative government as well as contribute to the competitiveness of the NSW economy.”

“The announcement demonstrates the importance of digital technologies in the future of service delivery,” added ACS president, Brenda Aynsley.

“The holistic approach taken by the Minister by involving multiple stakeholders will lead to a better outcome overall, and as the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector we are looking forward to seeing the outcomes that this centre will deliver. “