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NSW launches Australia’s first WofG analytics hub

by Justin Hendry •
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The NSW Government will establish Australia’s first whole-of-government (WofG) data analytics hub to improve access to information and further the competitive standing of NSW’s digital ecosystem.

Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello announced the creation of the Data Analytics Centre (DAC) at last night’s AIIA launch event at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Initially situated within the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, the agency will oversee the use and distribution of datasets, overriding the NSW Government’s outdated agency-silo approach to data analytics, in which information is currently stored across more than 140 government agencies.

“The biggest challenge is that governments have a twentieth century approach to the use and sharing of data”, said Dominello.

“Data is one of the greatest assets held by government, but when it’s buried away in bureaucracy it is of little value.”

The hub’s capacity to aggregate and analyse WofG data and generate insights from data compiled from all state-owned corporations, government departments, and local councils, is expected to improve government decision making when considering complex policy issues.

The DAC will also be responsible for:

  • Coordinating definitions and data centres consistently across NSW government agencies;
  • establishing and maintaining a register of data assets to advise government on the further publication of open data;
  • providing advice on how data can inform the digitisation of the NSW government and support the digital ecosystem;
  • investigating and establishing processes and methodologies to enable the protection of personal information; and
  • advising on best practice analytic processes and data information security.

The hub will also provide one-stop shop accessibility to NSW data, improving data linkages within government and fostering collaboration with industry and research. This has previously been found to raise the likelihood of positive productivity returns by up to 242 per cent, according to a 2013 Australian Innovation System Report, and is considered crucial to the continued evolution of the knowledge economy within NSW.

“In order for the digital economy to flourish we need meaningful collaboration between government and industry”, said the minister.

Minister for Finance and Services Dominic Perrottet has previously indicated that linking data sets across government would assist the government in the development of evidence-based policy.

A specialist government steering committee, made up of NSW Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Tydd, and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Coombs, will provide input during the DAC’s design phase. An industry body will then provide ongoing guidance.

While the scope of the DAC is a first for Australia, South Australia has already established its integrated spatial data platform – the Adelaide Data Hub – which collects and incorporate datasets from all tiers of government to support urban and social planning.

The 2014 Global Innovation Index by Cornell University currently ranks Australia eighty first out of 143 countries in its ‘Innovation-Efficiency Ratio’. The Ratio looks at participating countries’ knowledge, technology and creativity returns on its innovation inputs – investment in human capital and research, institutions, infrastructure, market sophistication, and business sophistication.

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