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The federal government’s troubled myGov website has had a digital makeover to make it more intuitive to navigate, nicer to look at and easier to access using mobile phones or tablets.

The overhaul was made more pressing by the large jump in traffic to the government services portal over the last two years. The federal government said that myGov had 10 million users and dealt with more than 242,000 logins every day: twice the number of logins from just two years’ ago.

It is a pivotal website that millions of Australian must interact with daily, dealing as it does with a huge range of services. MyGov was launched in 2013 to provide a single access point for ten different agencies providing services including Medicare, tax, Centrelink, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Health Record.

The government has recognised that any failure of myGov or rising customer frustration with the system can be a very public and vocal affair.

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said in March this year:

“The public will ultimately judge us when they go on to the myGov website, when they pay their tax or ask for a refund, when they come through immigration, when they are engaging with the industry portfolio as a small business, they will judge us on how that goes.

“They’ll accept that there are speed humps along the way. But they will be unforgiving if that experience doesn’t continually improve.”

The changes were in response to ‘hundreds of hours of user research’ which revealed common complaints about the website, including the difficult language used, confusing instructions and dumping large swathes of information on users.  

People also complained about how often they were locked out of their accounts and the difficulty in getting these unlocked.

The joint statement by Mr Taylor and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge about the myGov revamp said this problem had been addressed to make signing in easier and to allow users to unlock their own accounts once they had been suspended. 

They claimed the changes had resulted in incorrect logins being reduced by 37 per cent.

Mr Taylor said: “We listened and we got it. The new look myGov also demonstrates how the DTA can partner with other agencies and departments to transfer skills and transform delivery.”

The sign-in process had already been tinkered with over the past year to show users passwords as they typed them (to cut down on login failures and account suspensions) and allowing people to use email or mobile numbers instead of just alphanumeric usernames.

Mr Tudge said the government had incorporated user feedback and collaborated with other departments to fast-racked changes.

“Our investment in myGov is transforming the way people do business with government - making life easier for 10 million Australians,” Mr Tudge said.

“In response to user feedback, we’ve also made it easier for users to find and access the services they need.”

The rollout, which occurred over the weekend, was a joint project between the Department of Human Services and the Digital Transformation Agency and the Australian Tax Office.

The government said the Discovery and Alpha phases were completed by the Digital Transformation Agency while the prototype stage and the beta product were a partnership between the ATO and DHS.
                    [post_title] => MyGov: “we listened and we got it” says minister after digital makeover
                    [post_excerpt] => Users double over two years.
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By Allen Koehn, Associate VP and GM – Public Sector at Infosys

We are entering a new phase of human evolution. However, it is not one comprising new limbs or larger eyes. Rather, it involves the pursuit of ultimate control, despite human error, through technological innovation. The robotic automation of society alluded to in the science fiction of our past is finally becoming a reality - one technological advancement at a time.

Human involvement, paper-heavy administration and room for error are exponentially decreasing as technologies like blockchain digitise and automate entire processes and interactions. What started as a platform for the transaction of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies now has the potential to span industries and verticals across the globe. There has been much hype about blockchain, with banks reporting annual savings of US$8-12 billion after its implementation1, but seemingly little understanding about what exactly it is and how it can be put to valuable use in different sectors.

What is blockchain? 

Transactions - financial or otherwise - occur across networks every second. With blockchain, each time a transaction occurs, a network of computers carry out a series of algorithms, identifying the originating device and its user, and validating the transaction. This transaction is then added to a digital ledger (public or private) and attached to an irreversible chain of transactional “blocks”. Verified transactions are permanently recorded, traceable and updated across the entire network every 10 minutes.

Blockchain is decentralised – it does not have a central server or administrator, but rather exists on and is managed by the network itself. Unimaginable computational processing power is needed to override the network. There are no singular points of vulnerability and the corruption of any one bit of data results in its network-wide corruption. Ultimate visibility and control makes unauthorised actions impossible. Consequently, blockchain is almost entirely secure in the face of human-led threats. 

 It’s not just about security 

Blockchain’s automation makes paper trails redundant, exponentially decreasing lost documents or delayed payments. Imagine a future where financial transactions within governments are automatically and irreversibly recorded, or citizens can transact confidentially without physical presence at a government office. Costs are reduced, efficiency is improved and the way for ultimate transparency is paved. Governments and organizations alike can achieve a true competitive advantage with blockchain (and its accompanying applications and digital technologies).

So, for those working in government, scratching your head about how to leverage this new technology, here’s five ways that I see blockchain being used in the public sector:
  1.  Identification
Gone are the days of a 100 point ID checks. With digitised birth certificates and ID documents, blockchain enables a single personal identifier. It is an entirely new and reliable way of identifying members of an ecosystem – from citizens to government agencies – enabling everything from digital voting (which is in the works for Australia’s 2017 elections) to confidential legal disputes.
  1. Registries
Blockchain enables the digitization of property titles, car registrations, medical records and more. Once recorded, documents become digital proof, available – for example – for trusted use in legal battles. Printing and tracking costs decrease and smart contracts can automate actions when conditions are met. For example, a digital driver’s license can notify its owner of expiration, or simply auto-renew by triggering a debit off the owner’s account.
  1. Payments
There is room for (and talk of) the use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in place of existing financial institutions. But blockchain technologies also have immense potential to eliminate fraud and tax avoidance, thanks to built-in transparency and trust protocols. Social benefits, grants, compensation, tax returns and inter-government payments can be automated, recorded and possibly even accessed by the public.
  1. Accountability
On that note, blockchain makes ultimate accountability in all spheres possible. Financial movements can be permanently recorded and traced, or voting results can be updated on a public network, keeping voters in the loop. Each time a change is made to a law recorded on the ledger, the public has full visibility. Public services can be delivered with ease to a trusting population, thanks to this layer of transparency.
  1. Automation
The processes of filing applications, making and receiving payments or benefits, getting visas and transferring permissions or titles can all be streamlined beyond what was previously possible – making blockchain particularly beneficial to developing markets whose existing infrastructure cannot otherwise accommodate such radical change. As with most innovations, the possible use cases of technological advancements like Blockchain are often only discovered much later in their lifecycle. Preconceived notions should not hinder the exploration of evolutionary innovations in new and unique contexts. The true power of technology is only truly realised when it evolves outside its original borders. Only when we colour outside our existing lines can we truly evolve. We believe that Blockchain has the potential to truly evolve the way our governments, organisations and society functions. [post_title] => Five ways blockchain will transform the public sector [post_excerpt] => Making paper trails redundant. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27165 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-19 10:50:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-19 00:50:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27154 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-18 10:46:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-18 00:46:53 [post_content] =>     Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. Pic: YouTube. A new Australian Public Service (APS) Privacy Code covering the data citizens give to the federal government will be in place by 2018, prompted by the outcry over Centrelink robo debt and data matching. Today’s [Thursday] joint announcement by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) said the two would work collaboratively on the new code, which aims to ensure a balance between data protection and privacy and data innovation and its use by Commonwealth agencies. Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim told the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, which is conducting a public hearing into the Department of Human Services’ Online Compliance Initiative (OCI) in Canberra today, that the code would cover how data should be ‘respected, protected’ and regulated into the future, consistent with community expectations. Mr Pilgrim said the code would be binding and failure to comply would be a breach of the Privacy Act. The current guidelines are voluntary. He said penalties could range from asking for a written undertaking that an organisation would change their processes and comply - ultimately enforceable in the federal court – to civil penalties in a federal court which could reach up to $1.8 million for serious breaches. The OAIC will lead on the code’s development due to the organisation’s specific privacy expertise and the code will be implemented APS-wide. All agencies will also need to have a privacy management plan in place under the new code. The Department and the OAIC said the code was vital to maximise the value of publicly held data. “The code can therefore be a catalyst to transform the Australian government’s data performance – increasing both internal capacity and external transparency to stakeholders,” they said. Commissioner Pilgrim said the code would ‘support government data innovation that integrates personal data protection’ while giving the APS the ‘skills and capabilities’ it needed to manage personal information. A storm over data privacy occurred after Fairfax published a piece by blogger Andie Fox in February which was highly critical of the DHS’ automated debt recovery drive, designed to claw back more than $1.5 billion over five years. In her article, Ms Fox claimed she had been pursued and ‘terrorised’ by DHS for money she did not owe after a relationship breakdown. In response, DHS disputed Ms Fox’s account and leaked some of her personal information to a journalist, including her Family Tax Benefit claims and relationship details. The government later defended itself arguing that it was allowed to release personal information to correct inaccurate public statements under social security legislation. Federal Labor MP Linda Burney later referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police but the AFP concluded that Human Services Minister Alan Tudge had not breached Commonwealth legislation. The government said the new privacy code would be developed in close collaboration with the APS and data stakeholders and it would apply to all Australian Government entities subject to the Australian Privacy Act 1988.   [post_title] => New APS privacy code on the back of Centrelink robo debt [post_excerpt] => Penalties of up to $1.8m for serious breaches. 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  By Mark Say, Managing Editor This story first appeared in and appears here by kind permission of the author.    Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the UK's Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy talks about the financial challenge in spending on digital transformation – along with the integration of health and social care Pic: CIPFA Rob Whiteman spends a lot of time thinking about the financial dilemmas facing local government, and there is a major one around digital transformation. Almost everyone agrees it is a necessity, but it comes with a big price tag, and with councils’ budgets already cut to the bone it is a tough call to make a case for heavy investment on which the return is likely to be years away. As chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA), Whiteman has a day-to-day preoccupation with local authorities’ bottom line. It is not a direct responsibility, but as the professional body for officials at the sharp end it plays a significant part in honing the thinking. He recites the basics of local government’s current difficulties: spending down by approximately 40% since 2010, demands on social care that have led to a 5% increase for children’s services and a 10% limit on the cuts for adults, and much sharper reductions in areas such as regulatory services and running libraries.

Creating space

“The problem is that creating the space and investment for digital transformation is difficult when you don’t have the money to keep the show on the road today,” he says. “Everybody can see that, particularly with Generations X and Y, people want to access services in a different way. They want 24/7 services and want to be able to transact on the web. “That needs investment, and local government has many strengths, but it’s hard for it to make system investment when it’s more than 400 organisations. You need an organisation like DCLG (the Department for Communities and Local Government) to be able to pump prime. “If local government were not 400 institutions it could probably not have borne the cuts it has, but if you want to invest in something different, while the bigger authorities can find the space to do this, it’s very difficult for a small council with big budget constraints. Ideally it should mean working with other authorities to invest in it together.” The joint investment is not happening on any large scale and, since the Government Spending Review of 2015 provided nothing to support local digital efforts, there is no pump priming from the centre. There are organisations such as CIPFA, the Local Government Association and public sector IT association Socitm to support some coordination and shared effort. Whiteman says they can provide help, not just in arguing the case for local authorities but in challenging how they do things, pressing for more economies of scale and to avoid duplication. But councils still have to spend on investment, and Whiteman provides some advice on how they can make the process more manageable.

Look for good practice

“Number one, somebody has almost certainly already done it,” he says. “Actively go out and look for good practice and find councils that have already done something you’re thinking of doing. “Secondly, if you’re going to do it, do it well, and make sure you have the right capability. The best business cases are those that may cost a bit more than people are comfortable with but give greater assurance they will be delivered because you have the capability and capacity to deliver them well. “And try to do it with other people. Find other councils to work with, or partners that have already done something like this.” He emphasises the importance of being very clear over the expected benefits – “the more work on benefits realisation the better” – and the linking of digital and service strategies. But he suggests that councils will struggle if they do not take a more collective approach. “I think local government is good at implementation; it has been able to make 40% cuts because it has implementation skills. The weakness is that implementation tends to be for individual organisations rather than at scale, and if it were done at scale the benefits realisation probably could have been ever greater.”

STP ups and downs

Things get even more demanding when you look at the need for integrating services. The Government has made this a big issue for health and social care with the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for England, a move for which he sees up and down sides. On the one hand, he describes them as “a really difficult brand”, not helped by many having been drawn up with little or no public consultation; on the other, they could foster a better working relationship between councils and the NHS. They have different skills sets and financial settlements, with councils being accountable to local electorates while NHS bodies report to the secretary of state for health. This fosters different outlooks, but “these are so different that if they work well with each other the prize can be enormous”. He says the test will be in whether they develop the right attitude to working together: “I think STPS should be organisations where they want to work with each other and don’t feel they are being strong armed. They are an organisational development exercise to build trust for people to get used to transacting with each other. “The test of the good ones will be that, after they are abolished, people will want to carry on working that way because they have been successful.”

Sense of place

This will depend partly on how strongly the participants feel a sense of common purpose based on their communities – a “sense of place” as Whiteman puts it – and a willingness to break out of their organisational silos. This is not easy to achieve, as the breakdown of the Total Place policy in the late 2000s demonstrates. But he is hopeful that the move to city devolution, with Manchester at the vanguard, will provide momentum. “My experience is that a sense of place can act as the biggest drive for collaboration of anything that I’ve seen. What I admire about Manchester is that there’s a sense of place, in that people think they are not supporting the public interest as they should if they stick by the present organisational boundaries and siloes. “A sense of understanding the issues of a community and feeling a passion to do something about it is the most powerful.” His other big hope in the technology field is that government makes more of data analytics. He says it could be valuable to local government in plenty of activities, especially social care and public health. “That type of capability has incredible opportunity in other policy areas - identifying children likely to be at risk, people who are likely to be vulnerable, people who are likely to have poor health. There are very real information management and ethical issues about the degree to which the state makes use of data, and we are going to have to work that through with other policy areas, but data analytics could inform on a whole range of policy issues.” Through all this Whiteman conveys a combination of acknowledging the starkness of the financial situation facing local government, and an optimism that it has the qualities to find some long term solutions. There is no doubt that digital is going to play a big part.  
[post_title] => Facing local government’s digital dilemma [post_excerpt] => Tough spending choices for UK local councils. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27122 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-16 10:00:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-16 00:00:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27117 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-15 17:25:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-15 07:25:03 [post_content] =>     NSW government can learn from other governments internationally about how to develop and promote a culture of open data and data sharing, says a report commissioned by the Information and Privacy Commission of NSW and the NSW Open Data Advocate. The UNSW Law report, Conditions Enabling Open Data and Promoting a Data Sharing Culture 2017, released yesterday (Monday) looks at the progress of five other countries – the UK, France, Canada, the US and New Zealand – towards recognising the importance of open data and doing something about it. All five are considered to be leading the way globally. Open data is data that can be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose and offered free or at minimal cost. The data can come from a wide range of sources, including government departments and agencies; universities; corporations; charities; NGOs; groups and individuals and it can encompass statistics, maps, scientific research, reports, and weather amongst other things.   To qualify as open, data should be available in bulk and able to be processed by a computer. The UNSW Law report identified six main drivers for achieving open data and went on to show how the NSW government could use international best practice and put more emphasis on open data. These drivers included:
  • Leadership and public support by government, ministers and agency heads to create processes and a culture that encourage the release and sharing of data
  • Legislation that sets out the rights and responsibilities governing access, sharing and protection of data for those who want the data and those who keep it. For example, the UK, US and France have mandated that data be open by default and be machine-readable and in in a standardised format
  • Policies to guide agency and staff decisions and priorities around open data and privacy, data security and collaboration
  • Regulations to provide certainty and to set expectations and obligations, as well as providing oversight and punishing non-compliance. These should balance rights to data with concerns over privacy and anticipating risk
  • Promoting culture and collaboration that supports open data within government and with the public, for example co-operation between agencies and between international, national and sub-national levels of government
  • Developing strategies to make data open, including funding open data, sharing success stories and engaging communities and individuals, for example the UKAuthority.
NSW Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Tydd said the independent research report was the first of its kind in Australia. “The research demonstrates how open data is being achieved internationally through an examination of leading jurisdictions,” Ms Tydd said. “The research acknowledges NSW’s progress and, importantly, offers new and significant insights to inform our approach to opening up valuable NSW data resources.”   She said opening data was “an impactful, contemporary approach to opening government” that promoted “effective and accountable government and enables meaningful public participation”. A recent IPC community attitudes survey found strong support for Open Data in NSW with 83 per cent of people agreeing that de-identified information should inform government service planning and delivery. The report provides suggestions on how NSW can move further towards open government and open data. These include recommendations to:
  • Publish a complete catalogue of all datasets, including restricted datasets
  • Moving from a legislative framework authorising data release to one that proactively encourages it
  • Mandating departments to open specific datasets and set quotas for datasets to force collaboration
  • Identify which datasets are important economic drivers for growth in regional areas and prioritise these
  • Mandate departments to create machine-readable standardised formats for datasets to allow analytics and linked data applications
  • Explicitly fund departments opening up high-value datasets in machine-readable format
  • Adopt an anticipatory regulatory approach that promotes open data but ensures ongoing evaluation and assessment of security and privacy risks
  • Develop in-depth guidelines on anonymisation and de-identification
  • Identify workforce skills/knowledge gaps and opportunities to work with local government and other government agencies
  • Adopt an incubator model where an open data company is embedded with an agency to co-develop ideas and applications on models, or engage with entities such as Code for Australia to bring in ideas and expertise
The research underpinning the report was guided by a steering committee comprising NSW agencies and experts, including the Data Analytics Centre, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Data61, the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation and the Department of Justice.  [post_title] => Global open data leaders give NSW lessons in data sharing [post_excerpt] => Promoting a culture of open data and data sharing. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27117 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-16 11:54:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-16 01:54:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27086 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-05-09 11:31:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-09 01:31:40 [post_content] =>   By Anthony Wallace Australia and New Zealand have been named among the top nations in providing open government data. The latest results of an global open data index reveal that Australia is ranked equal first out of 94 countries. Tying equal first with Australia was the nation of Taiwan. New Zealand also had a strong result, beating the Unites States and Brazil to take out number seven on the index. The Global Open Data Index (GODI) aims to provide the most comprehensive snapshot available of the state of open government data publication. Published by The Open Knowledge Institute annually, GODI ranks how well nations publish open government data against 14 key categories. Australia scored full marks in three of the spatial categories including, “Administration Boundaries,” “National Maps,” and “Locations.” The datasets where Australia did not perform well include “Land Ownership,” “Government Spending” and “Water Quality.” Australia’s Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, said the GODI results confirmed the Australian Government was on track with its commitment to making data more openly available. Read more here.   This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Australia leads the world in open govt data [post_excerpt] => Ties with Taiwan. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27086 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-09 11:31:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-09 01:31:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27053 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-05 11:52:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-05 01:52:29 [post_content] =>   Talking data: Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor. Pic: YouTube.      The federal government’s Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, put data at the heart of transforming how Australians deal with the government in a speech to public servants this week but he did avoided any talk of how matching datasets can cause mayhem, as it did in the recent Centrelink robo-debt debacle.   Mr Taylor said data was essential to ensuring “efficient payments or preventative compliance” when he spoke at the Chief Data Analytics Officer Public Sector Forum earlier this week (Wednesday). The government’s online compliance intervention (OCI), which began in June last year, caused an avalanche of complaints from distressed Centrelink clients, many of whom found it difficult to get through to a Human Services human being to help them resolve the issue. At one point, up to 20,000 people a week were receiving debt notices. The notices were automatically generated if a discrepancy was found between Tax Office data and benefits paid. Mr Taylor told the forum: “Now when we mention compliance people immediately think of debt collecting but what I'm talking about is making sure the payment that goes out the door is right. “It's a fundamentally important service delivery tool for the citizen and for many years and across both sides of government beneficiaries of payments have been incurring debts which often are unintended.” He called it “a big problem for citizens and a big problem for government” because every dollar paid out incorrectly to claimants cost more to recoup. But he steered clear of name checking the Centrelink robo-debt crisis, which blew up before Christmas last year, after thousands of benefit claimants, past and present, received letters asking them to explain a discrepancy between ATO data and their Centrelink benefits or pay back a chunk of money. A Commonwealth Ombudsman report later criticised the Department of Human Services for placing “unreasonable” expectations on claimants and communicating poorly with them but did not condemn the data matching process itself or question its accuracy. Mr Taylor extolled the virtues of the government’s Geocoded-National Address File as he spoke, adding that the file enabled correct payments and tackled fraud. “There can be zero error or fraud from either the beneficiary or the public servant processing the claim. But because of an inaccurate dataset we could make the wrong payment,” he said. “So improving the quality of our information has immediate and substantial benefit to both.” After the Ombudsman’s inquiry, DHS agreed to use registered post to contact customers, as some letters never reached their recipients. Despite the problems caused by robo debt and the online Census meltdown in August, which he said had taught the government ‘real lessons’, Mr Taylor did not resile from putting technology and data front and centre of the government’s service improvements. One of his top priorities, he said, was “a smooth easy log on experience and the ability to streamline your identities with government”, citing GovPass and my Gov 2 as good examples of achieving this.  “The way I think about technology transforming customer service is broad. It's not just portals and services, although those things are important,”Mr Taylor told the forum. “The delivery of a high quality application programming interface has just as much potential to serve the needs of a customer as any other project.” Mr Taylor praised, the national open data portal containing over 20,000 datasets, and the NationalMap’s geospatial datasets. “We firmly believe it is time to build on our initial success and transform how government uses data - from what remains a cottage industry - into a central plank of how government works.” “To do that we must focus on three main areas: analytics, policy problems and efficient payments.” He placed ‘smaller agile projects’ over ‘big traditional waterfall projects’ and said that research of 50,000 projects internationally showed that only 3 per cent of large projects were untroubled, compared with 58 per cent of smaller agile projects. Mr Taylor said the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) had more powers to review and monitor projects than the federal government had ever done before. “This is a critical point – no government of either stripe has had the strategic overview that this government is now conducting into the Australian people's multi-billion-dollar investment.” [post_title] => Digital Transformation Minister talks data, avoids Centrelink robo debt [post_excerpt] => Says DTA's powers at their height. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => digital-transformation-minister-talks-data-avoids-centrelink-robo-debt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-05 12:12:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-05 02:12:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26972 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-27 16:35:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-27 06:35:24 [post_content] => Can Health exorcise the ghosts of failed past government IT projects?     There is a graveyard bigger than Rookwood Cemetery filled with the cadavers of failed government IT projects and haunted by the ghosts of scope creep, budget blowouts, frustrating delays and second rate outcomes. It is a fate the Department of Health (DOH) will be dearly hoping it can avoid as it pushes ahead to completely reimagine its 30-year-old IT payments system, a system which underpins Medicare, aged care and veterans’ payments and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The project is still in its early stages. The Request for Information (RFI) went out in March this year as the government gathers as many ideas as it can from tech companies of varying sizes to design, deliver and integrate its digital payments platform, a project that will have multiple phases over the next five years, while keeping its procurement options open. Vendors are likely to be salivating at the chance to score a lucrative, long-running contract which has about the highest public profile there is for a federal government IT project, perhaps surpassed only by the Department of Human Services’ $1 billion, seven-year Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT), due for completion by 2022. But it will not be easy money. It is not a straight forward task to disentangle the current system, which has over 200 applications and 90 databases and supports more than 600 million payments worth approximately $50 billion every year. The Health Department cannot afford to slip up because if it does it will do so very publicly. The multi-million dollar transformation is an endeavour that will affect around 99 per cent of Australians who use the digital payments platform in one way or another. CEO of business management company Holocentric, Bruce Nixon, who has worked with government clients such as the ATO, NSW Transport Management Centre, Sydney Water and IP Australia, says now is the right time to do it, before the labyrinthine system gets even more complicated. “It’s pretty exciting and it is long overdue. It’s a good time to be doing it with new technology available,” Mr Nixon says. “It is very difficult to integrate everything into the application so there are more and more layers on top and they become more and more complex and unwieldy. “There does come a time where it makes sense to overhaul the system and replace it with something more modern that allows changes.” Time is also limited so DOH has little choice but to act. Gary Sterrenberg, CIO of the Department of Human Services, which manages health payments for DOH, has said in the past that the current system has only about three years left before it is totally cactus. There is no doubt that DOH needs to get on with it but it needs to do it well.  Critical to the project’s success, says Mr Nixon, is building expertise and loyalty in-house, rather than shifting the burden and responsibility onto systems integrators, although he says external contractors will be needed and they will bring in fresh ideas. “You should bet on your own people. Open their knowledge. Bring them into the project as early as possible and keep them involved all the way through,” he says. “Be upfront about how it’s going to work in the future, the ramifications. It de-risks the project.” Doing this helps prevent cost overruns and scope creep, as well as skilling up staff, and ensures that the people who know and understand the processes the system is built for are more involved in the project. It makes it more likely that the system can incorporate any necessary changes to payments further down the track too. “There are always going to be policy changes and political influences. Transformation is ongoing and it is hard to change if you don’t have in-house skills and knowledge,” Mr Nixon says. It is the people at the coalface processing payments - not systems integrators - who have this knowledge. “You need to leverage these skills and engage these staff in the process, rather than relying on systems integrators,” he adds. Integrating the technical into the operational demands a thorough knowledge of current processes and assessing desirable outcomes, along with building in the flexibility to adjust systems to reflect future changes. It requires drilling down and looking at how payments are made, defining the tasks workers must do, the rules and obligations they are working under, and thinking about how these integrate into the IT system. Mr Nixon says it is important to examine what can be done better and the expectations Australians have of the system, for example, of being able to make mobile payments. “The Department should make sure it takes control of the whole transformation initiative. This is a very complex system that has been around for a long time with a huge amount of transactions that are very important to get right. “You need to start change management from the early days, not at the end, identify current processes, system capabilities and your future vision." He suggests building a model to simulate the processes and how things will work, “sort of like a business GPS”. Mr Nixon says there are lessons to be learned from other IT disasters, whether from Australia or overseas, cautionary tales worth heeding by governments before they blow billions and incur the wrath of ordinary Australians when the systems they rely upon seize up. “It’s worth being wary of past failures,” he says. Probably one of the most spectacular domestic IT failures occurred when Queensland Health set out to replace its ailing payroll system in 2006. When the system eventually went live in 2010 thousands of workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all and Queensland taxpayers were left with a $1.2 billion bill for a project that was initially supposed to be a $6 million contract. The meltdown was primarily due to the organisation’s failure to clearly set out its business requirements or to spell out how it should be delivered and what outcomes were expected. Unrealistic deadlines exacerbated the sloppy planning. All this set the scene for massive scope creep and proved to be a headache for contractor IBM, which had to deal with multiple requests for changes. Another epic fail was the Victorian MyKi public transport smartcard, where costs ballooned to $1.5 billion and dragged on an extra seven years, taking nine years instead of two. The ensuing storm of complaints from the public over charges and refunds only amplified the damage done. The then Victorian Labor government underestimated the project’s complexity and failed to monitor the contract properly. DOH will be fervently praying that it does not enter the annals of similarly disastrous IT projects and instead gets it right.  [post_title] => Health confronts ghosts of failed govt IT projects in Medicare payments rebuild [post_excerpt] => Engage staff early, integrate process with systems. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => health-confronts-ghosts-government-projects-medicare-payments-rebuild [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 11:44:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:44:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26963 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 11:03:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 01:03:16 [post_content] => UNSW-EC0, built by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research and one of the three Australian satellites launched overnight.     By Anthony Wallace Australia is back in the space race, following the launch of three miniature satellites. At 1am Sydney time on Tuesday 19 April 2017, three Australian research cubesats blasted off for space as part of a NASA mission to resupply the International Space Station. The event marked the first launch of an Australian-built satellite for 15 years. It is also the nation’s first foray into cubesats for a host of new applications, from scientific discovery to remote sensing and satellite navigation.

The Atlas 5 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Tuesday night.  Photo: NASA

The trio of Australian cubesats is part of the international QB50 mission, consisting of 36 small satellites known as ‘cubesats’. Each instrument weighs about 1.3 kg each and is about the size of a shoebox. The combined effort will carry out the most extensive measurements ever undertaken of the little-understood thermosphere, a region between 200-380 km above Earth. This usually inaccessible zone helps shield Earth from cosmic rays and solar radiation, and is vital for communications and weather formation. Twenty-eight of the QB50 satellites, including the three Australian cubesats, were aboard the Atlas 5 rocket when it launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida overnight. The three Australian cubesats are UNSW-EC0, built by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER); INSPIRE-2, by the University of Sydney, UNSW and the Australian National University; and SuSAT, by the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Launched: first Australian satellites in 15 years [post_excerpt] => Oz is back in the space race. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => satellite [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 13:41:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 03:41:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26953 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 10:32:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 00:32:59 [post_content] =>   A scene from the new smartphone app Magical Park.   Local councils in Australia and New Zealand and an NZ games developer have hit upon a brilliant way to use mobile phones to draw children to play in urban parks again. A new free smartphone app has unleashed the augmented reality game Magical Park, targeted at kids aged six to 11, which encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park. In the game children can interact with fairies, dragons, kittens, dinosaurs and aliens and complete missions, like finding dinosaur eggs, using their phone or tablet camera. The game is positioned in a selected large, flat park space in the shape of a virtual circle, which holds the game content kids can play. The idea was born during last month’s Parks Week celebrations, where 47 Australian councils and 19 NZ councils put their heads together to find a way to kick kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, interacting with their families at the same time. The project is a partnership between The Parks and Leisure Australia, the New Zealand Recreation Association and Kiwi game developer Geo AR Games. Magical Park attracted over 24,000 park visitors during Parks Week, with an average of 1069 number of game sessions played per day and participants running an average of 1.45km per game. Families across Australia and New Zealand spent more than 1,200 hours playing Magical Park together. Councils pay a subscription fee for the app, which is geo-located to a specific park. The app will only open in a designated park area. The families find out about the app via the council or through signs put up in the park by their council. The hotspots for gaming activity were Heywood Park in Unley, Perth; the Wilson Botanic Garden in the City of Casey, Melbourne and Westward Park in Clarence Valley Council in NSW. Teresa Turner, New Plymouth District Council’s Recreation and Culture Manager, praised the app. “I think what really appealed was that families could do this together – parents and kids both could hunt for dinosaurs and fairies and swap stories about their experiences after.” GEO AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz said: “Augmented reality is a powerful tool to get kids engaged and we have had a lot of queries from schools, who would like us to develop educational content. “We have another product on our road map, which will eventually allow kids to upload their own 3D models and build their own worlds and games to share with their friends in their local park.” Brian Eales, Principal from the Clive Primary School in New Zealand voted the trial a success. “Magical Park opens up a whole new dimension for children linking the engaging world of devices and the great outdoors. “It allows for the creative use of devices and mathematical concepts while maintaining physical activity. It can strengthen the tuakana teina relationship when older students work with young students.”     Sue Wilson, Assistant Principal from the Pomaria Primary School in Henderson, Auckland agreed it had had a positive effect on children’s learning, increasing in both writing and oral language skills. While some councils are looking at bringing Magical Park back for the school holidays, permanent Magical Parks are set up in Heywood Park in the City of Unley and Rhodes Park in Kwinana. Magical Park is the second augmented reality app from Geo AR Games. The company also developed Sharks in the Park, which brought an underwater world to kids in parks across New Zealand in 2016. For more information visit Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => Move over Pokemon, new app draws kids to urban parks [post_excerpt] => Local councils use Magical Park. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26953 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 11:51:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 01:51:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26910 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-18 11:03:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:03:25 [post_content] =>   Local Government Excellence Awards Local Government Professionals NSW revealed the winners of its Oscars for local councils earlier this month. Full list below.  President LG Professionals, NSW Barry Smith said the awards recognised and showcased the pinnacle of excellence in the local government sector in NSW and significant achievements by NSW councils over the past year as well as the outstanding professional development achievements of our members. “Local government works hard for the communities in New South Wales, and we were thrilled that the Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister joined us in acknowledging the sector’s professionalism and dedication," Mr Smith said.   

Excellence in Innovative Leadership and Management

Recognising the use of superior management and leadership skills to achieve outstanding benefits for the organisation and/or for the community.   Winner: Tweed Shire Council Highly Commended: Lachlan Shire Council, City of Ryde Council Community Partnerships and Collaboration Recognising genuine and effective partnerships and collaborations that have resulted in better outcomes for council, as well as initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to working with and/or in the community to achieve positive outcomes.   Population over 15,000 Winner: Port Stephens Council Highly Commended: Blacktown City Council, Lake Macquarie City Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Warrumbungle Shire Council Excellence in Local Economic Contribution Recognising innovation in leadership and management for a project/initiative that has enhanced the economic wellbeing of their local government area and increased the value proposition to ratepayers and residents, in parts or all, of their city, town, district or region.   Winner: Liverpool City Council Highly Commended: Lake Macquarie City Council Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Recognising dedication to sustainability as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit to the environment.   Population over 100,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Canterbury-Bankstown Council, Central Coast Council   Population under 100,000 Winner: City of Canada Bay Council Highly Commended: Byron Shire Council  

Special Project Initiative

Recognising leadership where an individual, team or council has developed a concept or practice that significantly improves the business in which they work, development of processes or practices that has had a major impact on the organisation or its customers. Population over 15,000 Winner: Lake Macquarie City Council Highly Commended: Central Coast Council, North Sydney Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Hunter’s Hill Council  

Excellence in Community Development and Services

Recognising leadership in community services as evidenced by way of corporate process improvements, a particular project initiative, innovation in management and leadership practices or demonstrated practicality and resourcefulness. Winner: Canterbury-Bankstown Council Highly Commended: Cumberland Council

Excellence in Asset Management and Infrastructure Initiatives

Recognising excellence in Asset Management as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit in asset management. Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Wentworth Shire council

Excellence in Risk Management

Recognising the community and/or Council benefits (strategic, operational or financial) delivered through the identification, control and mitigation of risks within a council’s unique risk profile. Winner: Wollongong City Council Highly Commended: City of Canada Bay Council

Excellence in Creative Communities

Recognising excellence in bring together communities through art and cultural creative projects. Population over 15,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Bega Valley Shire Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Narrabri Shire Council  

Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness

The Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness Award is open to all NSW councils who have participated in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program. Winner: Willoughby City Council Dux of the Governance Intensive Course The Governance in Local Government Intensive Course has been developed to enhance the governance knowledge and skills of professionals working in the local government sector. Dux: Christine Priest, Wagga Wagga City Council Dux of the Finance Intensive Course Covering all aspects of local government finance this one week intensive residential course will benefit new finance managers, senior accounting and accounting officers or anyone with a financial background wishing to expand their knowledge of local government finance. Dux: Tracy Wilde, Sutherland Shire Council     NSW Environmental Excellence Awards Nominations are open for the NSW Environmental Excellence Awards, which celebrate councils and council staff who have done outstanding environmental work in the state. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said local government was the closest level of government to communities and had the most direct influence on local environments. "But what is often forgotten is that local government is one of the biggest sectors in the NSW economy,” Mr Rhoades said. "Councils are responsible for maintaining and upgrading $142 billion in infrastructure and land assets, including parks, reserves, roads, community facilities and water and sewerage systems. He said the sector employed more than 50,000 people and injected $11 billion into the state's economy every year. "Combine that economic power with a commitment to environmental sustainability and best practice, and you have a sector making a very real contribution to the environment in NSW." There are 15 award categories, including the prestigious Local Sustainability Award for overall council performance and the Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability awarded to an individual. They will be announced on October 11 at the University of Technology Sydney and they cover projects and programs from January 2016 to May 2017. The prize for overall winner of the Local Sustainability Award is an overseas study tour or a professional development program for staff, valued at $10,000.  Individual councils, county councils and regional council groupings are all eligible to enter, and compete against similarly sized councils in one of three levels: populations of less than 30,000; between 30,000 and 70,000; and more than 70,000.  Nomination applications close on 31 May, with further details available on LGNSW's website National Reconciliation Week funding Councils have until the end of this week to apply for federal government funding to support celebrations for National Reconciliation Week, which runs from May 27 to June 3. Celebrations are particularly poignant this year with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court decision. The funding round closes on Friday 21 April 2017. President of the Australian Local Government Association, David O’Loughlin said councils can use the funding to partner with a local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisation to mark these two historic events through activities that honour and respect their significance to all Australians. “It is a great compliment to the sector that the Turnbull Government has chosen local councils as partners in celebrating this national milestone,” Mr O’Loughlin said. “I would hate to see any council miss out so I urge all councils to submit applications for this funding via the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.” Bill Shorten to address local councils Labor leader Bill Shorten will address this year’s National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. This week, the Opposition came out in support of ALGA’s call to end the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation agreeing that local government funding has been under pressure following the 2014-15 freeze. The party called on the Government to rule out any extension of the FAGs indexation freeze beyond 30 June 2017.   The NGA is the peak annual event for local government, attracting in excess of 800 Mayors and Councillors each year. Themed Building Tomorrow’s Communities, this year’s NGA will be held from 18 - 21 June. [post_title] => Around the councils [post_excerpt] => Full list of NSW Local Government Excellence Award winners. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-the-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 14:07:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 04:07:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26899 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-12 15:11:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-12 05:11:22 [post_content] =>     The 35-year lease to run the NSW's profitable  land titles registry has been sold to a consortium led by First State Super and Hastings Fund Management for $2.6 billion, in a move heralded by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a ‘massive infrastructure boost’ and by almost everyone else as a bad idea. The only profitable part of the state’s Land and Property Information (LPI), the land titles registry, which currently makes about $130 million in net profit annually, was bought by Australian Registry Investments (ARI), a consortium made up of 80 per cent Australian institutional investors. Investors include First State Super, investment funds from Hastings Funds Management and a 20 per cent stake held by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s pension fund, also managed by Hastings. The winners beat off competition from three other consortiums: Borealis and Computershare; the Carlyle Group and Macquarie’s MIRA and Link Group. The NSW government called it a 'phenomenal result' for NSW. “Once again today's result has significantly exceeded expectations,” Ms Berejiklian said. “It means even more funding for the schools, hospitals, public transport and roads that people depend on every day.” The government will drop $1 billion of the sale proceeds on upgrading Parramatta and ANZ Stadiums and refurbishing Allianz Stadium, while the remaining $1.6 billion will be invested into other infrastructure projects under its Restart NSW fund, which often funds roads and public transport projects. The Premier has promised that at least 30 per cent of the total proceeds will be spent in regional NSW. But while the government has argued that selling the lease to operate the land titles registry to the private sector would spur ICT investment and speed up the system, scores of real estate agents, surveyors, lawyers, unions and community groups have slammed the sell-off and called it a disaster. They have argued that it will imperil the quality and reliability of the service, make it more expensive for ordinary people and push skilled staff out the door.  Opposition to the sell-off spilled over into a public rally in Sydney’s CBD in March. Land titles  defines the legal ownership and boundaries of land parcels and is integral to buying and selling property, as well as taking out and paying off mortgages, leasing and inheriting property. Despite the majority of people being blissfully unaware of the system until they need it, land titles underpins billions of dollars spent in the NSW economy and a $1.2 trillion real estate market.  The Public Service Association (PSA) called it a 'a recipe for disaster for millions of property owners across NSW'. “It is hands down, the most appalling fire sale decision yet by a Government with a strong track record in that area”, said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little. “The government trumpets its efforts on ‘life-changing projects’ but what could be more life changing for millions of people across NSW than to lose the security on their own property? “Just as the PSA feared all along, ultimately the personal property records of the people in NSW will be held offshore given a portion of the successful consortium is based in London.” But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defended the lease arrangement and said it had ‘rigorous legislative and contractual safeguards’ in place to ensure the continued security of property rights and data. He said any increases in price were capped at CPI for the entire length of the lease and the government would continue to guarantee title, with the Torrens Assurance Fund compensating landowners who lost out due to fraud or error on the register, as happens now. A new external regulator has been established – the Registrar General – to monitor ARI’s performance and resume control, if necessary. Mr Perrottet praised ARI and said the company had prepared ‘a technology roadmap’ as part of its bid, helped by Advara, the private company that runs Western Australia’s land titles service. He said Advara had introduced ‘world-leading titling and registry technology’ to WA and added that the Registrar General would review and approve any major changes to LPI’s IT system in NSW. “This is an industry on the cusp of huge technological advances, and today we have partnered with some of Australia’s most reputable investors who will make sure the people of NSW get the benefit of those advances,” Mr Perrottet said. “Combined with the tight regulatory framework we have established, the investment, innovation and experience ARI will bring mean citizens can expect a better experience.” He said the ARI consortium had received approval from Commonwealth regulators including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board and the transition to the new operator was likely to be finalised over the coming months. LPI staff have a four-year job guarantee as they transition to the new operator. More to come.   [post_title] => NSW land titles lease sold to consortium for $2.6 billion [post_excerpt] => Massive infrastructure boost or recipe for disaster? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => land-titles-lease-sold-consortium-2-6-billion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:05:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:05:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26887 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-12 09:54:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-11 23:54:26 [post_content] =>
  By Paul Shetler This blog first appeared on   When any service can be virtualised, or held to the standards of the best digital companies, then it doesn’t make sense for companies to think of ‘digital’ and ‘the business’ as two separate things: digital is the business.
Keeping digital separate means putting the rest of the business on a path towards decline.
It’s easy for organisations in Australia to be complacent about their future – especially when they’ve reached a level of size and success that allows them to become bureaucratised. Sandy Plunkett belled the cat back in 2014 in her piece Board to death: Our fat, dumb corporations are clueless on innovationSadly, at the time, few appeared to be listening. Too many organisations dismiss the cautionary tales and are only now beginning to respond to digital change, if at all. “Evolution not revolution” appears to be the preferred strategy. Organisations ignore the disruption in entire industries like retail (Amazon), travel (Expedia), hospitality (Airbnb) or in businesses like Kodak or Blockbuster. For many Australians, changes to the economies in the USA and the UK are things that happened ‘over there’ with limited impact on our economy. In fact, Australian consumers have been beneficiaries of the change. In the USA, UK, Israel, China, Estonia, Singapore and other digital economies, organisations are embracing the new economics of IT. There is a realisation that the old strategies that organisations relied on – outsourcing, heavy governance, incremental evolution towards digital – will not help them be competitive. Organisations in these economies understand they need to embrace radical transformation if they want to survive and thrive in the digital era. In Australia, there remains a belief that there is still time, that we can take a decade to manage change, that digital offerings are not going to have an impact on our businesses. Too many of our largest institutions remain in denial. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Australian retail sector is about to see first hand the devastation that Amazon can have on its industry. Take for instance the impact that online shopping has had on traditional retail in the USA. Recently, it was reported that: “Macy’s has already said that it’s planning to close 100 stores, or about 15% of its fleet, in 2017. Sears is shuttering at least 30 Sears and Kmart stores by April, and additional closures are expected to be announced soon. CVS [a shopping centre owner] also said this month that it’s planning to shut down 70 locations. Mall stores like Aeropostale, which filed for bankruptcy in May, American Eagle, Chicos, Finish Line, Men’s Wearhouse, and The Children’s Place are also in the midst of multi-year plans to close stores.” More.


The rise of the digital economy isn’t new, it’s been happening for a while. The economics of IT have fundamentally changed. Take storage costs. In 1980, it cost $438,000 to store a GB of data; in 2000, it cost $11; in 2012, it cost $0.10. Now, you can have your first 15 GB of data stored free on Google Drive. This is the result of a virtuous cycle of cloud computing. Network effects established early leaders, who invested billions in capital that drastically drove down per unit storage and compute costs. This encouraged more users to consume the cloud leading to more investment by the early leaders. Now, there are really only three players, of which Amazon Web Services is dominant, with Google and Microsoft in close pursuit. It is highly unlikely that any other competitors will replicate the success of the early entrants who made the most of network effects with fast and massive continuous investment. The new economics of IT has radical implications for how organisations should think about their business. Every company is becoming a software company. We used to think some industries were not under threat, but look at what’s happened in transport (Uber), storage and compute (Cloud), media (Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Breitbart), payments (PayPal), car share (goGet), publishing (Kindle), music (Spotify and iTunes), education (Moocs and Khan Academy) and recruitment (LinkedIn) – all of these industries have been impacted by hyper digital competition. Users are demanding more products and services that can be consumed online, anytime. Even businesses with digital offerings are finding they have to continually improve their services to keep competitors at bay. Amazon now has Prime, Fresh and Go. Google is buying, developing, refining and retiring offerings to remain relevant. Everyone is on the same network for the first time in history This means that everyone has access to all available products. Every market is now global. This allows for both rapid growth and scale-up as a result of network effects and the fulfilment of niche user needs which has resulted in the growth of internet subcultures and patterns of consumption. You only need to look at Tumblr4chan and YouTube to see the growth of niche subcultures online. Think of Vaporwave as a music genre - it only exists on the internet. The same holds true for blogging, where there are specialised blogs that can reach big audiences because the entire addressable market is global – with this trend being exploited by LinkedIn and Medium. Competition is growing as the barriers to entry fall Cheap cloud computing has flattened barriers to entry, allowing new competitors to challenge incumbents. It’s also opened the door to global digital companies, who no longer obey geographic boundaries: they rapidly acquire market share in new countries. That means for instance, Australian retailers are competing against efficient and low cost providers. Amazon is able to track and respond to demand shifts quickly, because of the data it collects – with extremely efficient processes for payments and delivery. This is competition the likes of which local retailers have never dealt with before. The threat posed by new competitors is even more acute because of the nature of platform economics: the first digital movers – think eBay, Amazon and Uber – have set up rapidly scalable platforms that allowed them to grab huge market share. Companies that wait too long are now being left behind or, worse, are locked out. Soon, analysts will measure the value of a company's share price based on the size, scale and pace of their digital transformation programs and boards will be scrutinised for their success in overseeing radical transformation. The smarter analysts will also be examining the type of investment in digital and quizzing CEOs on the scope, speed and outcomes of their transformation efforts. We’re shifting from CAPEX to OPEX Twenty years ago, when you needed to spend enormous amounts on licences and physical computers just to get started, it made sense to have heavy governance and lengthy contracts with specialised vendors. Today, you can avoid paying for licenses altogether if you elect to use open source software. Startups no longer need physical servers, physical firewalls, physical routers, database management system licences, operating system licences – they don’t need to buy any of the software or the hardware required to run their business. They pay by consumption. This is a radical shift that has levelled the playing field and made it easier for new competitors to enter markets. Institutions can take advantage of the same opportunities. They can begin to act like the very startups trying to disrupt them. They can run experiments, they can do things quickly, they don’t have to go through long CAPEX cycles. Today, they can go onto AWS and quickly experiment to test their ideas. They don’t have to wait for the boxes to arrive before starting, significantly reducing cycle times and cost. Consider the opportunities for large employers who were paying millions for Solaris, Oracle RDMBS, WebSphere, Oracle SOA Suite, Microsoft Windows servers, SQL servers, BizTalk servers, not to mention the physical servers, routers and firewalls. These days, you might lose your job if you do buy proprietary software, or spend money on physical servers and the facilities to host them. With the change to procurement, existing governance structures suited to the age of CAPEX also need to be upgraded.
The low cost of computing means companies can afford to use a credit card to buy services. This provides the single greatest opportunity for established businesses of any size to streamline procurement processes and access the service offerings of lower cost competitors.
The pace of change is fast – and getting faster The low cost of IT is encouraging experimentation and rapid learning. That means the rate of automation is intensifying. It’s not just Amazon that’s rapidly increasing its robot workforcefrom 1,000 to 45,000 units in three years. Machine learning and mechanised processes are playing a greater role in white-collar professions like law and accounting. Consumers consistently demonstrate they want cheap and reliable services, and don’t have much interest in engaging with their advisers, with offshoring customer enquiries to call centres being superseded by cognitive interfaces and voice command. The economics of IT have changed Business processes and products need to change with the new economicsDigital transformation means:
  • Responding in real time to consumer needs, not waiting six months for the next release cycle
  • Expanding the market for a product to everyone with a network address, not just people in geographic proximity to shopfronts
  • Applying cheap modern technology to build great products, not relying on ancient legacy systems
  • Reducing risk as teams experiment with products to see what works, rather than aiming for perfection at the end of a project, before finding out users don’t want what’s been delivered
  • Delivering faster, simpler, better products that meet user needs and create increased profitability.


Organisations are gradually coming to realise this is a new industrial revolution. It is not a phase. It doesn’t require change management. It does require fundamental and radical change, quickly. A Sloan Management Review survey found that 90% of executives anticipate their industry will be digitally disrupted to either a great or moderate extent. But taking action is much harder; in the same study, only 44% of executives thought their company’s preparation for disruption was adequate. Lord Francis Maude, who drove the transformation of government services in the UK between 2010-2015 recently reflected: “... I was sadly disillusioned by the extent of sheer inertia and obstruction, often passive but sometimes active obstruction in the civil service. The worst thing is when civil servants don’t give advice, saying ‘minister, this is a really stupid thing to do’ and rather go along with it but then don’t do it. That is just intolerable and there was far too much of that. So for me it was a disillusioning experience.” The old strategies for outsourcing, governance, procurement and IT, that organisations think are helping them are in fact often holding them back to the detriment of their shareholders, customers, suppliers and most significantly, to their employees. Applying the old model of outsourcing to the new economics of IT won’t suffice Outsourcing to large vendors made sense in the age of CAPEX, when it was expensive to experiment with IT. Now that organisations are competing against firms iterating thousands of times a day, it doesn’t make sense to wait six months for every release cycle, or to put up with exorbitant fees for changes in scope. Even so, too many organisations still apply the old model of outsourcing to the new economics of IT. This outdated strategy creates an opportunity for new entrants to grab market share from industry leaders. As Jeff Bezos famously observed “your margin is my opportunity”. Companies are being held hostage to the Triangle of Despair I’ve written before about how any bureaucracy holds back digital transformation. When I worked to fix government services in the UK, we used to call it the ‘Triangle of Despair’:
  • inappropriate procurement practices that made it impossible to change course
  • heavy governance from the era of CAPEX, even when dealing with the novel, user-facing problems that suit Agile
  • using ancient, proprietary IT systems with far too much manual processing.
Each of these problems feeds off a deskilled workforce that encourages a company to rely on vendors and apply heavy governance to manage risk, rather than building in-house capacity and trusting in their ability to deliver. Transforming a company today means re-skilling every layer, from the boardroom to the call centre. Organisations think they still have time to move Just last month, Myer’s CEO said that he was confident the company was already well-placed to compete with Amazon. That’s the same thing Macy’s CEO was saying last year, before the company was forced to close 100 stores and cut over 10,000 jobs. We’ve already seen digital disruption in the media industry, with Fairfax announcing another $30 million worth of cost cutting just this week. The pace of change is slower in highly-regulated industries like financial services, but we can already see FinTech start-ups undermining incumbents’ margins. Insurers are said to be preparing for a radical reduction of their advisor network. The world’s equity crowdfunding market is doubling in size every year, and continues to be dominated by start-ups. Consumer financial services are now ranked by executives as the third most likely sector to experience significant disruption in the near future. These startups may not kill off the banks but they’ll focus on the most profitable parts of the business, and leave behind those lines that are unprofitable for the incumbents to manage. While the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims in the AFR recently challenged the pace of change in Fintech, Jost Stollman at Tyro made it clear where he thought the challenges lay and more importantly what the future might hold if the industry doesn’t transform itself: “One day we might not be talking about the Big Four but AT&T Financial Services and Alibaba owning banking services in Australia.” Take a moment to consider that the existing financial institutions employ over 420,000 Australians and may be left with the least profitable parts of their current business having moved too slowly to protect their interest from digital competitors to new platforms. Financial institutions that have twigged to the opportunities have moved quickly. Take for instance JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Both institutions are applying digital solutions to transform themselves. They’re becoming different businesses, they’re changing their workforces and their offering: “At JPMorgan Chase & Co., a learning machine is parsing financial deals that once kept legal teams busy for thousands of hours. The program, called COIN, for Contract Intelligence, does the mind-numbing job of interpreting commercial-loan agreements that, until the project went online in June, consumed 360,000 hours of work each year by lawyers and loan officers. The software reviews documents in seconds, is less error-prone and never asks for vacation.” More. Goldman Sachs has built an enormous data lake and is applying machine learning to it, with plans to make that information available via APIs: “Historically, the API has been human beings talking to other human beings over the telephone, and all the tools, the content, the analytics, is on the internal platform only. We are shifting this radically and shifting this fast, and we’re packaging everything we do, and actually, we’re redesigning the whole company, around APIs,” he said.” More. What transformation requires If companies are to survive, they need to accept the fact that they are now a software company: that they must own and deliver their digital services, and take full responsibility for their digital offerings. To do that, they’ll need to take three steps. 1/ Re-design their internal structure - It doesn’t make sense to split services between a Chief Digital Officer responsible for the front-end and a Chief Information Officer working on the back-end. Great services rely on a front-office and back-office that work together. Both functions should fall underneath a Chief Digital and Information Officer with responsibility for digital service delivery, while highly commoditised systems like ERPs are handled by shared services centres. Switching to digital also means thinking about the aptitudes and skills of a digital workforce. In Simon Wardley’s parlance Pioneers who are comfortable with Lean and Agile methodologies shouldn’t be allocated tasks involving absolute stability like processing platforms; they need to work on novel, user-facing problems where experimentation and rapid learning is essential. Settlers with the skills to turn MVPs into broader-based products should be encouraged to steal the things Pioneers build, and industrialise them. Town planners skilled in scaling up and perfecting products should be tasked with commoditising existing services. That creates a conveyor built to move products from ideation through to platformization. 2/ Tackle the Triangle of Despair of inappropriate procurement, heavy governance, and broken IT - Procurement should be fast and unbundled, so that companies can reduce costs and access innovative solutions from startups and SMEs; that’s the reason why government agencies are flocking to Australia’s Digital Marketplace and the UK’s G-Cloud. Governance of agile developments don’t involve heavy business cases, which stop teams from changing course based on what they’ve learned; organisations should trust the internal governance built into regular experimentation with users. Legacy systems that leave employees waiting for external systems integrators to give them access to their own data should be retired, in favour of state-of-the-art modern technology they can adapt themselves. Tackling the Triangle of Despair also means solving the deskilling of the workforce on which it feeds. You can’t improve digital capability in a hothouse like an Innovation Lab, and then expect the business to change around it. The small number of employees who get introduced to modern ways of working become frustrated with the bureaucracy around them, and head elsewhere. Instead, there needs to be digital training at every level of the organisation. That includes in the executive suite.
The people running a software company need to know about the software market they are competing within.
3/ Demonstrate political will - Transformation can be painful, especially for people in an organisation’s legacy areas. Too often, that’s an excuse for digital leaders to pull back and create the theatre of transformation – halfway-house solutions they hope will be enough. A range of these is described in my earlier postTransformation requires the political will to see these solutions for what they are: a pretence of digital, that will leave the whole organisation vulnerable to disruption. Instead, leaders need to articulate the need for transformation, and understand that it requires sustained and decisive action, rather than incremental transition. It requires change, not change management. The alternative is to watch the decline of their organisations and plan the transition of workers onto the unemployment queue.


Australian organisations are unaccustomed to crisis or intense competition. Twenty-six consecutive years of GDP growth have allowed many Australian companies to prosper; but this has also meant that the current generation of Australia’s business leadership has never had to deal with widespread adversity or a serious challenge. Something they have in common with many ‘smashed avocado’ eating millennials. The leaders of the economy's oldest, largest organisations - the brownfields - where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by hazardous legacy IT/culture - cannot compete with greenfield startups by doing the same thing they’ve always done. And it’s not just Silicon Valley we need to worry about. A rising digital China has 800m users, it spends $369bn on research and development each year and only last year filed 1.3 million patent applications. Its universities are graduating over 600,000 engineers. How do Australian companies survive when faced with this level of competition? Waiting any longer to embrace the change driven by the digital economy and its impact means exposing Australia's leading employers to the great risk of being unable to compete. In time, it will mean putting an organisation on a Receiver’s watch list. Organisations that want to survive and thrive in the digital age need to embrace the changed economics of IT and take decisive, sustained action to transform themselves immediately. This means redesigning their internal structure, tackling the Triangle of Despair, and having the political will to transform themselves, even where it’s painful. Only by taking these steps now can an organisation hope to have a future. ............................ Paul Shetler is an adviser to governments and organisations around the world who are transforming their business. He is a speaker on digital transformation and organisational change. Paul was the CEO of the Digital Transformation Office and the Chief Digital Officer of the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agency. You can follow Paul on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @paul_shetler and stay in touch with his work at
[post_title] => Paul Shetler on the new industrial revolution: Digital disruption [post_excerpt] => Transformation not transition, argues Shetler. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => paul-shetler-new-industrial-revolution-digital-disruption [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-12 16:00:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-12 06:00:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26882 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-11 11:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-11 01:00:53 [post_content] => Newtown's nightlife has intensified since the 2014 lockout laws came in. Pic: Google Images.    By Lecturer in Criminology, UNSW This story first appeared in The Conversation.     It is vital that public policy be driven by rigorous research. In the last decade key policy changes have had profound impacts on nightlife in Sydney’s inner city and suburbs. The most significant and controversial of these has been the 2014 “lockout laws”. These were a series of legislative and regulatory policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder through new criminal penalties and key trading restrictions, including 1.30am lockouts and a 3am end to service in select urban “hotspots”. A range of lobbyists, including New South Wales Police and accident and emergency services, welcomed these initiatives. By contrast, venue operators, industry organisations and patron groups have made repeated but largely anecdotal claims that these changes caused a sharp downturn in profit, employment and cultural vibrancy in targeted areas. They also claim that the “lockouts” have caused drinking-related problems to spill over into urban areas that are less equipped to cope with them.

Crime is down

However, in late 2016, the Callinan Review referenced compelling evidence in support of the current policy. According to the latest research, recorded rates of crime are down by around 49% in the designated Kings Cross precinct and 13% in Sydney’s CBD. In contrast, what little research has been produced by opponents of strict nightlife regulation has been criticised as unreliable, inaccurate and poorly deployed.  
The pattern of assaults has shifted since the lockout laws began. BOCSAR, Author provided
The Callinan Review noted the lack of verifiable claims about the negative impacts of the policy in submissions from the main opponents of the lockout laws. This has led to a great deal of assumption in the final report about where, for example, revellers, jobs, entertainment and revenue might have been displaced to, or how the policy changes affected them. In many respects, the passing over of claims made by anti-lockout groups is rather unfair. These groups are not official state bodies with the capacity to produce the type of data or evidence on which the policy has been justified and defended. As such, their “unscientific” observations and experiences have been largely dismissed. To critically balance and juxtapose opposing claims, more impact data and research are needed.

We must take a city-wide perspective

If the lockout policy is judged on the original goal of decreasing crime in designated “hotspots”, then it appears to have been a success. However, from a city-wide perspective there are other issues to consider. Not the least of these is the effects in other nightlife sites across Sydney. Despite initially finding no displacement of violence to nearby nightlife sites, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has just released findings showing significant displacement in rates of recorded non-domestic-related violence in destinations outside the lockout zone. Reported crime rates in Newtown, one of the displacement sites listed in the BOCSAR study (along with Bondi and Double Bay), increased by 17% in the 32 months following the lockouts. These new findings appear to vindicate some local complaints about increased night violence – including attacks targeting LGBTI victims – that has led to much resident irritation and even political protest in recent years.

Adjusting our nightlife habits

So, how can we better judge the veracity of these claims about the displacement of nuisance and violence? Mapping patronage trends is a key means of understanding how and why rates of assault have now increased despite initially showing little to no change. To this end, Kevin McIsaac and I, with data from Transport for NSW, have set out to ascertain if and how nightlife participation in Sydney has been influenced by the lockouts. Our analysis focused on night-time aggregated train validation data (turnstile counts) from January 2013 to July 2016 for stations servicing the designated nightlife precincts (Kings Cross, Town Hall) and precincts outside the lock-out zone (Newtown, Parramatta). Using Bayesian Change Point (BCP) detection we found the following:
  • no evidence of changes to Kings Cross or Parramatta exit traffic from the introduction of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of strong growth in the Parramatta Friday-night exit traffic by about 200% since January 2013, which is independent of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of an increase of about 300% in the Newtown Friday-night exit traffic as a result of the lock-out laws; and
  • in all stations, the BCP algorithm detected a change when OPAL card usage exceeded magnetic ticket usage. This suggests the jumps seen in the graphs below are due to the higher exit reporting from OPAL. The switch from flat to slow growth in trend is probably an artefact of the relative increase in OPAL usage.
Kings Cross change point Friday night.
Kings Cross change point Saturday night.
Newtown change point Friday night.
Newtown change point Saturday night.
Parramatta change point Friday night.
Parramatta change point Saturday night.
  These findings provide new insights into the way people have adjusted their nightlife habits. The most interesting finding is the dramatic increase in access to Newtown nightlife. Exits in Newtown have increased 300% since the lock-outs were introduced in 2014. As can be seen from the graph, the rate of increase has been steady over the study period. This raises questions about whether there is a threshold at which patron density becomes an issue that potentially results in increased nuisance and violence.

Big data’s capacity to help

While this research is still in its early phases, the transport data tell one small, yet significant, part of the story. However, to draw definite conclusions, there is far more that needs to be considered. Many nightlife patrons travel into the city by different means, or don’t travel at all (those who live in and around the city). We need alternative data to try to identify patterns concerning these groups. Several different organisations have data that could help paint a more complete picture, including telcos, Google, Taxis NSW and Uber. While these organisations should be protective of their data, the value of anonymous aggregate location data is how it can inform and advance public policy through ethical research. This information is key to breaking down access barriers. Without access to these anonymous aggregations of privately controlled data, the capacity of research is limited. As such, there is a need for greater communication, collaboration and co-operation between producers of big data, the government and researchers into social impact. By building stronger evidence for all manner of policies, such partnerships have an amazing potential to contribute to the public good. [post_title] => Public transport data begins to reveal true impact of Sydney's lockout laws [post_excerpt] => Newtown's 300% nightlife jump. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26882 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:16:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:16:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27192 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-23 12:20:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-23 02:20:08 [post_content] =>   The federal government’s troubled myGov website has had a digital makeover to make it more intuitive to navigate, nicer to look at and easier to access using mobile phones or tablets. The overhaul was made more pressing by the large jump in traffic to the government services portal over the last two years. The federal government said that myGov had 10 million users and dealt with more than 242,000 logins every day: twice the number of logins from just two years’ ago. It is a pivotal website that millions of Australian must interact with daily, dealing as it does with a huge range of services. MyGov was launched in 2013 to provide a single access point for ten different agencies providing services including Medicare, tax, Centrelink, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Health Record. The government has recognised that any failure of myGov or rising customer frustration with the system can be a very public and vocal affair. Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said in March this year: “The public will ultimately judge us when they go on to the myGov website, when they pay their tax or ask for a refund, when they come through immigration, when they are engaging with the industry portfolio as a small business, they will judge us on how that goes. “They’ll accept that there are speed humps along the way. But they will be unforgiving if that experience doesn’t continually improve.” The changes were in response to ‘hundreds of hours of user research’ which revealed common complaints about the website, including the difficult language used, confusing instructions and dumping large swathes of information on users.   People also complained about how often they were locked out of their accounts and the difficulty in getting these unlocked. The joint statement by Mr Taylor and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge about the myGov revamp said this problem had been addressed to make signing in easier and to allow users to unlock their own accounts once they had been suspended.  They claimed the changes had resulted in incorrect logins being reduced by 37 per cent. Mr Taylor said: “We listened and we got it. The new look myGov also demonstrates how the DTA can partner with other agencies and departments to transfer skills and transform delivery.” The sign-in process had already been tinkered with over the past year to show users passwords as they typed them (to cut down on login failures and account suspensions) and allowing people to use email or mobile numbers instead of just alphanumeric usernames. Mr Tudge said the government had incorporated user feedback and collaborated with other departments to fast-racked changes. “Our investment in myGov is transforming the way people do business with government - making life easier for 10 million Australians,” Mr Tudge said. “In response to user feedback, we’ve also made it easier for users to find and access the services they need.” The rollout, which occurred over the weekend, was a joint project between the Department of Human Services and the Digital Transformation Agency and the Australian Tax Office. The government said the Discovery and Alpha phases were completed by the Digital Transformation Agency while the prototype stage and the beta product were a partnership between the ATO and DHS. [post_title] => MyGov: “we listened and we got it” says minister after digital makeover [post_excerpt] => Users double over two years. 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