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In other government ICT and digital news, 12 July 2023

by Cameron Sinclair •
Free resource


Australia’s spy agency has a major e-mail faux pas, Sydney street sweeping trucks are using roof mounted robo-cameras to spy potholes, Wimbledon is considering using them to spot line balls, while San Francisco residents are covering roof mounted cameras to immobilise robo-taxis. The release of the final report of the Robodebt Royal Commission contains a wealth of market signals for ICT suppliers.


The Robodebt Royal Commission (RC) final report dropped on Friday. You can read our analysis of possible ICT opportunities that could emerge from its recommendations here. The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has appointed Stephen Sedgwick as the special independent reviewer to lead a taskforce to assess the ‘sealed section’ to determine whether any current or former APS employee has breached the APS Code of Conduct.

Australia's emergency management ministers have commissioned an independent review of national natural disaster governance arrangements. We have been monitoring the digital transformation of emergency management for some time, noting uneven progress among states since the 2019-20 bushfires. The inquiry will evaluate establishing a national disaster advisory body and consider expanding the remit of the National Emergency Management Ministers' Meeting (NEMMM). It is scheduled to report in November 2023.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has confirmed that the next edition of its long running series of investigations into digital platforms, that began in 2017, will focus on data brokers. The agency has published an issues paper raising questions about the regulation of data being scraped and sold from social media accounts, internet search services, apps, customer loyalty programs, card payment providers, and public records such as electoral rolls. Submissions close on 7 August, with the report slated for publication in March 2024.

Chinese social media platform WeChat has refused to respond to an invitation to appear before the senate inquiry foreign interference. The app was banned from Commonwealth-issued devices in April. While the parliament of Australia has powers to summon (compel) a witness under the threat of a penalty (subpoena), the company apparently has no staff in Australia to summon. Plenty of politicians are concerned that ‘well-organised’ WeChat users are using the platform to spread misinformation in Australia’s Chinese-language speaking communities.

Spy agency ASIO found itself on receiving end of some bumbling spy-spoof satire after it sent a reply-all mass email to some 150 unsuccessful job applicants without using the Bcc function. Oops.


NSW is using AI analysis of video footage captured from cameras mounted on street sweeping trucks to identify potholes, damaged signage, and faded line markings. Councils have traditionally conducted ‘asset audits’ every five years, but the new AI-assisted approach will result in updates coming in every two weeks. The state government has also hinted that future uses will include drawing on weather data to predict potholes, cracks, and bitumen damage before they appear.

Queensland has opened the second round of its Agribusiness Digital Solutions Grants Scheme, inviting firms operating in suppliers Queensland’s agricultural, fishery and forestry supply chains to apply for matching grants of up to $100,000, from a funding pool of $1.3 million. Applications close on 18 August.


With concerns growing about the imminent arrival of quantum cryptographic (i.e hacking) technologies on ordinary phone users, Vodafone UK confirmed it is working with SandboxAQ (a spin-off from Google’s Alphabet) to conduct a proof-of-concept testing to develop a ‘quantum-safe' Virtual Private Network (VPN), to fend off ‘Store Now, Decrypt Later’ (SNDL) attacks, where adversaries steal encrypted data (now) to decrypt it in the future (later) using a quantum computer.

Wimbledon is considering using AI to replace courtside line officials. The US and Australian Opens already use camera tracking technology. The men’s ATP tour recently confirmed that line judges will be replaced by an AI system from 2025. John McEnrow has even opined that he thinks that “tennis is one of the few sports where you don’t need umpires or linesmen." Oh c’mon!

San Francisco residents are fighting back against driverless taxis, after someone discovered that the robo-cabs can be immobilised simply by placing an orange road cone on their bonnet (or the ‘hood’, as Americans would say). The confused vehicles can still be remotely operated. California has allowed the driverless vehicles to operate since June 2022, with Waymo (a Google subsidiary) and Cruise (a General Motors subsidiary) leading the field.



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