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Full steam ahead for QLD’s digital agenda

by Tajna Biscevic •
Free resource

With the wrap up of the Commonwealth Games and the consolidation of the Queensland Government’s post-election Machinery of Government (MoG) changes, work on the state’s Whole-of-Government (WofG) Digital1st ICT strategy can now continue free from ‘distractions’.

Speaking at CeBIT in May 2018, WofG Chief Information Officer (CIO) Andrew Mills said that “we haven’t done as much implementation as we’d like by now” in terms of the 2017-released Digital1st strategy, citing the Commonwealth games, the state election, and subsequent MoG changes that saw the Queensland Government Chief Information Officer (QGCIO) become part of the Department of Housing and Public Works, as having “distracted us from doing longer term stuff”.

This could put some of the actions the QGCIO is still “working (their) way through” in the ICT Strategy in line for funding in Queensland’s 2018-19 budget, which is due to be handed down in mid-June.

A key theme in the strategy is to make digital services “seamless, joined-up and personalized”. Mills revealed, however, that QLD will “federate” rather than “centralise” services to “create unified digital experiences, not single digital experiences”.

Cross-agency information sharing is a key focus for Mills in 2018. Now that the multi-agency Data Analytics and Information Sharing team has been in operation for more than 12 months, the focus can now shift to building capability in data insights and analytics, and looking for opportunities to contribute to policy development and decision-making, as per the unit’s long-term plans.

Mills also said there is more work to be done on QLD’s child protection system “Our Child” – similar to NSW’s ChildStory system – which enables social services and law enforcement agencies to share relevant information about vulnerable children, not allowing it to be captured or stored, with the aim being to respond to cases of children missing from out-of-home care by “initiat(ing) a multi-agency response, including media releases and amber alerts where necessary”.

According to the Queensland ICT dashboard, work commenced on the Our Child platform in early 2017 and is due for completion by early 2019. The project has so far cost $1.9 million with a total planned expenditure of $4.9 million. The state is working on digital IDs for vulnerable children that will be shared between social services and law enforcement, said Mills.

The Digital1st strategy also signals QLD’s intent to invest in machine learning and “intelligent automation”. This is in line with the Federal government’s commitment in the 2018-19 budget to strengthen Australia’s AI and machine learning capabilities with $29.9 million in funding over four years.

The QLD government may also find more funding for cyber security. The state committed $12.5 million over four years in early 2016 to boost its information security defenses and the creation of a WofG Cyber Security Unit. The Unit was tasked with WofG information security during the Commonwealth Games, and according to the Digital1st strategy, the Cyber Security Unit is set to work with CERT Australia within the Joint Cybersecurity Centre.

A number of other jurisdictions have funded cyber security-related measures this budget season, including the Northern Territory and Victoria.

Procurement reform is another priority for QLD, with a digital marketplace announced as part of the Digital1st Strategy. The marketplace is intended to improve access to the QLD government market for small to medium enterprises (SMEs), and is a component of the QLD Government Procurement Strategy.

Increasing the adoption of cloud-based services in line with the Cloud Computing Strategy has also been marked as a way of dealing with procurement issues, such as reducing vendor lock-in.

A draft proposed future state procurement system landscape has been developed by the government as part of the ongoing procurement reforms, and requires “agency-led, centrally enabled” systems with a self-service experience including an online catalogue functionality.

Digital health is another likely candidate for budget funding, with the further expansion of the national My Health Record platform, the state must ensure its electronic medical records landscape is compatible and up-to-date to ensure electronic records can be integrated onto the platform and linked up across health providers.

Further health funding may go towards telehealth and ICT infrastructure according to QLD’s 2017 Digital Health Strategic Vision for Queensland 2026, which lists expanding “the scope and reach of telehealth” and putting “infrastructure and business systems … in place to enable contemporary healthcare” as objectives. It also mentions gamification, biometrics data, genomic medicine, and automation as strategic opportunities to improve healthcare.

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