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Competition for Government ICT Awards heating up

by Poppy Johnston and Jeremy Blowes •
Free resource

Following a strong year for government ICT, defined at the federal level by the announcement of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) and the $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, the judging panel of the Australian Government ICT Awards faces a difficult task in picking the best ICT projects initiated in 2015 and 2014.

The awards recognise the most outstanding initiatives in eGovernment in the disciplines of Applications Development, Geo-spatial, Government 2.0, Excellence in Project and Program Management, and Excellence in Service Delivery.

The following is an overview of the state of digital innovation in Australian government markets with regards to these categories. Intermedium’s Insights team have also selected some of the state and federal ICT projects which may receive recognition.

Applications Development

The Applications Development award will go to initiatives that improve “cost effectiveness, benefit and efficiency” for the agency’s business or service delivery, and which use innovative technologies or partnerships (such as industry or academic participation).

Transport for New South Wales’ Codeworks ‘hackathon’ event in late 2014 is worth mentioning in this context, resulting in five real-time apps aimed at reducing traffic congestion and aiding in trip pre-planning. Service NSW has been similarly busy, releasing major updates to its Service NSW mobile app that allow for digital payment of road and traffic infringement fines.

Federally, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has released its myVEVO mobile app for checking immigration status and visa entitlements, and has a number of mobility programmes currently in development.

Geo-spatial

Awarded to programs that make use of “location aware information to inform service design and delivery”, this category recognises the increasing focus of Australian government agencies on the potential benefits to be derived from the Internet of Things.

New South Wales is once again a top contender in this regard, having begun the development of the state’s first smart motorway through Roads and Maritime Services. Other interesting projects in this category include Canberra’s Smart Parking trial and Western Australia’s Shared Location Information Platform. WA’s intended experimentation with driverless electric shuttle busses should be kept in mind for next year’s awards.

Last year’s winner in this category was the Wyndham City Council (Victoria) for its Windham Integrated Transport Strategy, reinforced by a mobile Travel Diary app that captures travel metrics “including mode, location, purposes for all participating community members”.

Excellence in Government 2.0

Excellence in Government 2.0 is awarded to a project that demonstrates superior use of digital tools to improve citizen engagement, recognising initiatives that facilitate “open and transparent government operations” and have “strengthened networks to create productive working partnerships”.

Nationally, there has been a renewed focus on Government 2.0 investment following the launch of the National Innovation and Science agenda – CSIRO’s data innovation group Data61 received $75 million in additional funding as part of the agenda with the aim of enhancing the release of government data and networking between researchers, businesses and the government. The funding announcement was accompanied by instructions from the Prime Minister that Federal agencies should make non-sensitive data “open by default”.

New South Wales is particularly likely to perform well in the Government 2.0 category after having announced the country’s first whole-of-government analytics hub in August. The state later announced that it would unlock public transport information for use in real-time transport apps.

The previous Excellence in Government 2.0 award was presented to the Queensland Health Services Information Agency for their ‘The Viewer’ integrated clinical information platform. The Viewer allows clinicians to see state-wide patient information (including diagnosis, laboratory results, radiology reports and medication profiles) via a web-based interface.

Excellence in Project and Program Management

Judges will be assessing the extent to which projects or programs demonstrate excellence in the management and efficiency of ICT enabled projects. Suitable candidates include projects that “target alternative investment opportunities” and encourage “sharing of resources and services”.

As the criteria relate to internal project governance and implementation details that are not normally in the public domain, predicting winners in this category can be difficult. Some limited information is now available through the ICT project dashboards set up by Queensland and (in embryonic form) Victoria.

Excellence in Service Delivery

The Excellence in Service Delivery award goes to a project or program that makes government services simpler and easier to use.

Based on the philosophy that “interacting with government should be as easy as Internet banking or ordering a taxi through an app”, the DTO’s mandate to encourage digital innovation has enhanced a nationwide move to deliver customer-centric digital services. Competition in this category is expected to be fierce.

Since its creation, the DTO has developed an index measuring citizen satisfaction with digital government and opened the door for streamlined online services.

The NSW Government has streaked ahead of other jurisdictions in key areas of service delivery. Service NSW continues to ride the momentum of its ‘digital by default’ agenda and in 2015 published a wait-time app, so that NSW citizens can see concurrent wait times and avoid peak periods, as well as the ‘tell us once’ digital account myserviceNSW, which provides a single, seamless experience across all Service NSW services.

Last year the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) became the first Australian organisation to deploy voice biometrics in its call centre to replace intrusive security questioning. The ATO took home the Service Delivery award last year for their myTax product, which allowed for online tax returns to be pre-populated and customized, making the tax payment experience far quicker and simpler.

Nominations for the Australian Government ICT Awards are accepted from all levels of government. The nominations close on Monday the 29th of February.

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