FST Government NSW Conference: Big data fuels engine of government


As a “silo-buster,” big data is opening up government and lays the groundwork for transparency, says Minister for Innovation, Victor Dominello, a keynote speaker at the FST Government NSW Conference held 18th May in Sydney.

NSW’s Minister for Innovation, Victor Dominello, has foreshadowed an expanded use of big data and analytics to make government more transparent, accountable and digitally-savvy.

During a keynote address at the FST Government NSW conference held 18th May in Sydney, he said the machinery of government is massive, and sometimes moves slowly. Opening up government through the expanded use of data will deliver best-practice services. “Big data is the silo-buster, together with supporting legislation,” he said.

The NSW government’s push for open data and digital government coincides with the creation of a GCIO being led by a Macquarie Bank executive, Damon Rees.

“Big data is not about dumping for dumping’s sake,” Dominello said. “We want direct, real-time and fast access to data for informed decision-making. The goal is ensuring government works smarter, faster, and more efficiently.”

He noted that NSW cannot keep the silos going, and still deliver on the promise of smart and open government. “One of our initiatives is the Data Analytics Centre. This is a world best-practice and marks a cultural shift. We need to get all the jigsaw pieces together to create digital government.”

NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, noted that open data and digital government goes hand in hand with e-health. The state’s e-health strategy offers a comprehensive blueprint for digitisation and online services. “The greatest challenge is to gain buy-in from clinicians, and getting doctors away from writing notes. We need to convince doctors about the value of electronic records.”

She added that “paper-light hospitals” are the wave of the future. This involves digitising records around patient care, the management of medication, and building the foundations for readily-available, and highly-secure access to data.

The challenge for government in the digital space is helping citizens navigate their way through a maze of channels and fragmented services, according to Michael Pratt, Customer Service Commissioner, Department of Premier and Cabinet.

“We’re still guilty of fragmentation and need to streamline our distribution footprint. Consumers want simple, fast and easy access to services.” The single consumer interface, and “one click and I’m done” approach will drive the principles of design. This supports a single interface and “tell us once” access arrangements.

While NSW seeks fully-integrated digital government, consumers and business face ongoing challenges, noted Pratt. Among these, it takes 12 to 18 months to start a café, while businesses struggle with the cash flow.

Navigating the maze-way has involved 13 agencies, 30+ phones, and 75 regulatory requirements – making it hard for businesses to get going. “Agencies and clusters have got to recognise the need to change, and deliver a fully-integrated experience for customer,” added Pratt.