by Shahida Sweeney

South Australia refines digital roadmap

Oct 07, 20144 mins

With an eye on “big plans, small projects”, South Australia is fast-tracking its digital reforms agenda. The state’s CIO, Bret Morris, told CIO Australia that it is focusing mostly on mobile apps and open data.

“We are shifting from eGovernment thinking to digital government thinking,” said Morris.” This gives us the opportunity to reassess where we can position ourselves in the service value chain.

Morris said business and communities can contribute more through the development of mobile applications by having access to open data.

“Government agencies are developing mobile applications. By continuing to open up non-sensitive government-held data, they are giving digital entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their own for local and global marketplaces.”

Under its agency-wide consultations, 12 core agencies are represented on an informal CIO council for information sharing. “The broader decisions are led by an ICT board. This is a governance body and comprises chief executives from key agencies.”

The SA government’s website houses the bulk of customer-centric information. “The back-end integration with the website is ongoing with participating agencies,” said Morris.

The state also plans to make more of its services available online, through mobile apps or smart devices. This reappraisal will help position front-line services at the right places across the value chain, Morris said.

Other initiatives include linking up social media messages from South Australia’s emergency services, and creating an electronic payment gateway that streamlines payments.

The future is digital and cloud

The state also uses a central ICT procurement model, which offers information about distributed computing, network upgrades and office platforms. However, agencies have the option to make their procurement decisions. South Australia’s annual ICT budget is approximately $547 million encompassing agency-by-agency procurement activities.

“Broadly, the focus is on digital and technologies that come under this umbrella,” said Morris. “For example, we do not have a cloud-first strategy, but if you read the fine print, that is the future direction.”

The state will leverage public and private cloud models, and factor in agencies’ security needs, including privacy issues around health, social services or law enforcement.

“Digital government requires different thinking, different capabilities and different leadership,” said Morris. “We are now well-placed to lead the new digital agenda and position the South Australian Government to be smart, open and digital.”

But service transformation is not just about transforming websites, Morris said. “We need to track developments to formulate a strategy that delivers digital-by-default reforms.”

Nearly 3 per cent of SA’s budget is allocated to ICT. “Our goal is to leverage technologies that support a modernised public sector. We are working with key agencies to refine the roadmap.”

In the ICT space, things can change radically and within months and businesses are being routinely digitally disrupted, he said. One recent initiative, SA Connected has been developed with the ICT industry in mind to best tackle this digital disruption.

“This strategy articulates a series of strategic directions that guide agency-wide ICT decision-making,” noted Morris. “It is underpinned by a policy framework and guidance to help agencies and will be reviewed regularly and updated where necessary.”

Digital award-winners

In June this year, South Australia Police (SAPOL) was recognised for its innovative use of ICT with the inaugural Premier’s iAward, which is part of the South Australian iAwards that acknowledge outstanding productivity and innovation in ICT.

SAPOL’s won the award for its Mobile Fingerprint Scanning Solution. This system verifies the identification of ‘persons of interest’ at a crime scene. It also provides background information in real-time to investigators. The system was built for the Android smartphone by solutions provider NEC.

One point of difference with other states lies in South Australia’s detailed consultations with business and communities, which includes SA Connected. “This strategy has open data and innovation at its centre,” said Morris.

SA is also working with the federal and state governments on digital collaboration through a Cross-Jurisdictional Chief Information Officers Committee, a Technology Working Group, and the Australian Digital Service Standard Working Group. Its educational collaboration draws in the Open Technology Foundation, Flinders University, University of South Australia and Carnegie Mellon’s Adelaide campus.

For more information on South Australia’s digital initiatives and other ICT projects, click here (PDF).