Revealed: The public service innovators

NeoFace Reveal face recognition technology.


Digital government, honey bees and face recognition crime-fighting technology were among the winning projects from public sector innovators celebrated at the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) national iAwards in Melbourne last week.

This year, more than a third of the award entries came from the public sector, representing some exciting new approaches to a range of social problems.

More than 600 entries across five award categories: Business Services; Community Services; Consumer, Industrial and Primary Services, and Public Sector and Government as well as Student Categories and Cross Categories.

Full list of winners here.


Government winners included:

  1.  Northern Territory Police and tech company NEC won a National iAward for NeoFace Reveal, Australia’s first facial recognition system, which matches potentially dangerous people in under 10 seconds, a process that could previously take up to eight days.

NeoFace Reveal can help identify people from video footage or stills from CCTV cameras, drones, mobile phones and body-worn cameras and compare it to existing images in police databases. It has also been used to identify victims of crime, such as an unconscious man admitted to hospital after being assaulted, as well as suspects and perpetrators.

  1. NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation won the NSW Public Sector and Government category for OneGov Digital Gateway, Australia’s only aggregated platform of digital services.

OneGov’s software solutions are used by 30 NSW Departments and Agencies for approximately 9 million licences, including owner builder permits, liquor and gaming licenses, electoral enrolment and recreational fishing. OneGov replaced 49 government bespoke legacy systems.

  1. CSIRO for its Global Initiative for Honey Bee Health

The initiative is an international collaborative effort involving researchers, beekeepers, farmers, industry, and technology companies to research what is harming bees, to better understand and address bee colony collapse and find solutions that will help secure crop pollination.

  1. University of Tasmania in conjunction with Tourism Industry Council Tasmania and other tourism groups won for their Sense-T Tourism Tracking Project, tracking Tasmanian tourism.

The international multi-disciplinary research team tracked where groups of visitors went, how they moved around, and what influenced their decisions tracking different travel patterns according to age, home country, length of stay and reason for travel using a smartphone app. The detailed data could even detect how long someone stands at a lookout, walks through a national park or browses an art gallery.

CEO of CSIRO’s Data61, Adrian Turner said the calibre of iAwards finalists reflectedan accelerating innovation ecosystem” where research, government, industry and startups collaborated and inspired each other “to be creative, bold and to move faster.”

“Innovation happens when people share ideas, data and expertise and then focus relentlessly on having economic, societal or environmental impact with these insights,” Turner said. “To compete on a global scale, we need to invest in growing our innovation capability by nurturing stronger collaboration networks and encouraging local talent to be ambitious in creating impactful work that has the potential to change the world we live in.”

Senior Vice President and Global General Manager, SAP Global Public Services Isabella Groegor-Cechowicz said Australia continued to punch far above its weight in public sector innovation.

“Public institutions everywhere are looking for innovative ways to provide a new level of services, become data driven and enable the government workforce by converting to digital tools,” Groegor-Cechowicz said. “These tools are connecting government departments to each other, to businesses, and to citizens.”
AIIA CEO Rob Fitzpatrick said entry numbers had doubled since last year’s awards and entries had come from all sectors of the economy including public, private, not-for-profit and students.

“This is true testament to the broadening scope of Australian innovation, which provides solutions to social problems; problems that matter,” he said.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) is Australia’s peak representative body and advocacy group for those in the digital ecosystem.

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