Queensland’s digital sector and ICT businesses have won out in the State Government’s three year plan to radically revamp Queensland into Australia’s most digitally interactive State and a global digital innovation hub, with addressable opportunities related to the implementation of ICT-as-a-service and its One-Stop Shop initiative likely to emerge before the end of 2014.
The newly-released GoDigitalQld Queensland Digital Economy Strategy and Action Plan outlines the Government’s roadmap for using digital technologies, content and innovative services to increase productivity and connectivity throughout the State.
The GoDigitalQld Strategy will operate across all three levels of government and open up significant opportunities for local businesses in the ICT sector to facilitate the State’s transformation to a digital economy driven by technology and online interaction.
Significantly, the plan will see the Queensland Government adopt a ‘digital-first’ approach to service delivery, bringing it in line with sentiment being expressed in other jurisdictions and in particular with the recommendations of the National Commission of Audit.
This ‘digital-first’ approach to service delivery is to be facilitated through the development of a Digital Government Framework to guide Queensland’s agencies.
GoDigitalQld is expected to boost the Government’s productivity, which currently contributes approximately 14 per cent of Gross State Product.
The local digital industry should expect to see opportunities for the provision of digital infrastructure and innovative ICT services to enable the Government’s implementation of ICT-as-a-service, eHealth services, and its One-Stop Shop initiative for online government services.
While GoDigitalQld will open up new project prospects for service providers, the Government will also seek to increase competition between ICT businesses.
A specific action under the plan, is to “enable more Queensland small and medium businesses to successfully tender online for government business”, signalling an intention from the Queensland Government to support the growth of local ICT businesses. In particular, “Tendering material offered through the Business and Industry Portal will assist small to medium sized businesses become aware of, and access opportunities associated with, the Forward Procurement Schedule for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”
With a targeted focus on government, communities, business, and the digital industry, the key objectives of the GoDigitalQld Strategy are to ensure:
- Economic growth powered by digital innovation;
- Digital-first delivery of improved government services;
- 100 per cent community and business participation in the digital economy;
- Growth of the Queensland digital sector to global standards; and
- Creating the conditions necessary for full integration of Queensland businesses into the digital economy.
Information Technology Minister, Ian Walker, said the Strategy will make good on the Queensland Government’s election promise to revamp government frontline services.
“[GoDigitalQld] is also about developing our local digital industry and creating a modern Queensland Government,” the Minister said in a statement today.
The Strategy focuses particularly on connecting rural and regional areas to digital services in a bid to overcome the challenges presented by Queensland’s highly decentralised and sparsely populated state.
The renewed emphasis on supporting Queensland’s digital economy comes following three consecutive years of reduced public ICT funding prior to the 2014-15 State Budget.
GoDigitalQld is expected to facilitate the implementation of the nine foundation areas of the Queensland Plan: a 30-year vision for Queensland report, to be unveiled by Premier Campbell Newman on July 31 this year. The Strategy will further complement the ICT Strategy and Action Plan and Blueprint for Better Healthcare in Queensland, both of which contain significant ICT measures.
ICT-as-a-service gains new ground
The GoDigitalQld Strategy continues the fundamental shift in the Queensland Government’s move to ICT-as-a-service, as recommended by former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello in the Queensland Commission of Audit last year.
Adopting ICT-as-a-service as the preferred best practice model has been prioritised in the ICT Strategy and Action Plan after Costello found that 90 per cent of ICT systems throughout the Queensland Government were outdated and would need replacing within five years, at a cost of $7.4 billion, as reported by Intermedium last year.
The value for money nature of ICT-as-a-service has seen Queensland become the first jurisdiction to formally mandate a cloud-first policy as the default ICT-as-a-service solution, representing a significant opportunity for ICT service providers to maintain relevance within the Queensland government’s rapidly shifting ICT plans for the digital economy.
The GoDigitalQld Strategy will see the Government foster partnerships with the local digital industry to provide digital infrastructure for the implementation of ICT-as-a-service and the One-Stop Shop initiative. This phase of the Strategy is expected to be completed by January 2015, signalling the likelihood of ICT projects being put out to tender later this year.
Major investments in eHealth
Among the most significant of projects flagged by the Strategy is the provision of eHealth services to improve the delivery of, and access to, health services for Queenslanders.
This measure follows close on the heels of the 2014-15 State Budget announcing significant investment in Queensland Health, as reported by Intermedium earlier this month.
The Budget saw $199.8 million allocated to the eHealth project, consisting of:
- $139.9 million allocated to ICT equipment to support the Government’s eHealth strategy; and
- $59.9 million invested in the state-wide rollout of eHealth clinical and administrative support systems.
Key upcoming ICT projects of the eHealth services, as detailed by the GoDigitalQld Strategy, include:
- Exploring opportunities to adopt the National Health Services Directory to streamline secure transfer of messages to general practitioners from public hospitals, with an expected completion date of February 2015;
- The development of a shared, state-wide, authoritative source of information for patient health records, representing a significant upcoming ICT data transfer project to be completed by June 2016; and
- The expansion of the Rural Telehealth Service to improve access to clinical services and health outcomes for people in rural and remote Queensland, expected to be completed by June 2017.
Despite the previously austere public investment in ICT, the release of the GoDigitalQld Strategy bodes well for the ICT industry with these significant projects on the horizon and the shift in the Government’s approach to fully harnessing the potential of Queensland’s growing digital economy.