by George Nott

NSW Government CIOs share what’s on and what’s next

Sep 20, 2016
Cloud ComputingFinance and Accounting SystemsGovernment

NSW state government CIOs met with their peers last week at a GovDC Marketplace event in Sydney, to share their current IT works and visions of the future. Here’s what they had to say:

Tim Catley, CIO, Transport NSW

The lead agency of the NSW Transport cluster, covering road, rail, ferry, light rail, point to point, regional air, cycling and walking, was working towards a multi-vendor model, Catley explained.

“It gives more flexibility both commercially and technically,” he said, “We can mix and match vendors. Having a variety of service providers means we’re not tied to one entity and when the time comes for that contract to end and we have to move onto something else, we’re not in a situation where we have to do large scale transformation in the way we do at the moment. It’s tough getting there, but once we get there it’s much better.”

Last week the agency released an app so travelers can report and take photos of a dirty carriage or bus, which feed into a customer service environment and into the maintenance system so crews can ensure it is cleaned up. Next month winning entries into a competition for new uses for the network of Bluetooth beacons already set up at Chatswood Station and bus interchange will be trialled.

The agency was also on a drive to open more of its data to third parties, part of the Future Transport program launched in April. Catley said the agency was becoming the “middle man” between the data and potential service providers and app developers. Technology advances made it a “fascinating” time for the sector, Catley added.

“The job for us is not to be playing catch up but to get ahead and understand the ramifications that come from that [new technology]. We’ve really got a role in not just how that technology is getting implemented but how we legislate for it, and how we support these new modes of transport as well.”

Chris Robson, CIO, NSW Police Force

“The problem that policing agencies need to solve – at a state and national level – we’ve known for some time we can’t solve by working in isolation from each other,” Robson said. “The secret to us fulfilling our role, in prevention and the delivery of a safer society, is our ability to share and exchange data with other agencies.”

Robson said this sharing of data was being aided by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), which formed in July this year, and the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

“We’re conscious of data sovereignty and issues like security but we also get a lot of frameworks and support from that commission. When I came to work at police five years ago cloud was an impossibility. Now we’ve got a number of providers that are on the ASD certified providers list. So nationally we’ve been on a journey towards working out how to make this work.”

He added that cloud providers were now more in tune with the force’s needs, while in the past they had found his concerns “dumb”.

Aaron Liu, CIO, NSW Department of Justice

Liu said that moving to the cloud and an as-a-service model of working was often more difficult for the public sector.

“Government has a slightly different risk profile to the private sector,” he said. “We’re held to a fairly high standard and expectation – some of that is political, some of that is reality. For example, if prison officers or judges don’t get paid, it’s going to hit the press. So how do we deal with the elements around escrow and various other bits in an as-a-service model, which is fairly new, to ensure that those risks are appropriately managed?”

The agency was one of the first to move to NSW’s GovDC data centres which allow state agencies to consume public cloud services via a secure gateway.

“The risk of cloud is it can evaporate when the sun shines on it. [But] if you’ve go that framework in place it’s not a matter of IT or security saying ‘no no no’. It’s ‘how can we do it safely?’” Liu said.

The agency was currently exploring the ‘prison of the future’, although the priority was always addressing the root cause of crime, Liu said. The state was in the midst of a “crisis”, Liu added, with the number of inmates exceeding the number of spaces.

“Prison of future is about delivering a range of services for people in custody whether it’s drug and alcohol programs via in-cell technology like touchscreens. Also maintaining communication and contact is a pretty important thing. [Currently] snail mail comes in and it goes through a metal detector and drug dogs sniff it and prison officers read it and then hand it to the offender. Moving that to email and video conferencing – we’ve got that on trial.”

Tim Hume, CIO, Department of Family and Community Services

Last year the Department of Family and Community Services began a major project to migrate the agency onto a cloud-based version of the SAP ERP platform.

Dubbed ‘OneSAP’, the multi-wave, ten year program with Accenture, will give the agency’s back office “more time to service the clients who need our help”, Hume said.

“When we’re looking at ease of deployment, one of the conditions with the OneSAP deployment was that it needed to come out of GovDC. We wanted to make sure we had the security and the imprimatur from GovDC that it was a thought out and worthwhile process.”

The agency’s ChildStory IT project recently reached the deployment phase, after more than eighteen months of research and design. The project uses Salesforce, bolstered by technology from Squiz.

The deployment will make the agency Salesforce’s biggest client in Australia, along with Telstra.

“It’s not just your average child protection system replacement,” Hume said. “There will be co-designed applications, several apps really, that will allow case workers to track the experience with our clients and their families and get a much richer experience than was traditionally available from a CRM.”

Zoran Bolevich, CEO and CIO, eHealth NSW

Established in July 2014, eHealth NSW is the dedicated organisation within NSW Health to deliver technology-led healthcare to the state. The agency launched its ten year plan in May this year, which includes the development of core clinical systems, integrated care solutions and workforce and business management systems.

Bolevich was appointed as CIO and CEO of eHealth NSW in March, after acting in both roles since July last year.

“Our vision is a one of digital enablement and transformation of health services and we are well under way in achieving that,” Bolevich said. “For us cloud-based technologies are a very important part of ehealth’s strategy, and a key vehicle towards great innovation.”

Bolevich said the agency would be rolling out a new human capital management system next year. eHealth NSW had recently completed the roll-out of one of largest ever Oracle payroll implementations in Australia, placing all 140,000 NSW public health workers, and the Ministry of Health, on the same HR and payroll system.

One of the ‘horizons’ outlined in the ten year plan was for health workers to access customised real?time information and training to support patients within a networked health environment.

“The big game for us is the use of data, the use of digital information systems as a partner and a support for clinicians,” Bolevich said. “So bringing the latest evidence and best practice to the pipeline across our systems in a consistent way that ensures we can provide safe quality services – every patient every time is the big game for us. It’s game changing.”