Australian Immunisation Register to get a post-Covid revamp; calls for Australia to appoint a Chief Technologist; Federal Government urged to fine-tune overseas data-sharing Bill; and a rundown of key tech investment initiatives in Budget 2021.
– Services Australia has enlisted IBM to help overhaul the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) – a national register recording Australians’ vaccination history. The $19 million deal, which utilises IBM Hybrid Cloud, is expected to deliver greater “elasticity and dynamic scaling” to the AIR, providing greater support for seasonal flu and Covid demand fluctuations, as well as a new API function for healthcare providers to more easily register vaccination details within the system.
Covid-19 will be a key area of focus for the upgrade, with the system expected to “track every dose, the details of the vial, and batch numbers”, Services Australia said. The current AIR platform, up to this point primarily used as a childhood immunisation register, only provides details of persons vaccinated and the time of vaccination. The AIR handles at present around 2 million records each year; this is anticipated to jump more than 30-fold once Covid-19 vaccine records are reported into the system.
– Spending on information security and risk management technology and services by Australian organisations is set to fall well short of the global average of 12.4 per cent this year, growing by 7.3 per cent year-on-year locally, or $5.1 billion, Gartner’s latest report has revealed.
While, locally, cloud security represents the smallest proportion of spending at just $20 million, its growth rate tops all other spend categories, exceeding 33 per cent this year. The use of cloud access security brokers (CASB) are also expected to see significant growth this year, owing to organisations’ increasing reliance on non-PC devices within the enterprise network.
– The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), while largely supportive, has recommended 23 changes to the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020.
Among the requested changes include additional privacy safeguards, greater scrutiny on international agreements, specified criteria for “like-minded countries”, and stronger oversight around the new framework.
– The Federal Government has been urged to appoint a Chief Technologist to accelerate its digital agenda and provide leadership and guidance in the face of “ministerial musical chairs”, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) has argued.
The appointment would be a decisive step forward for Australia in reaching its goal to become a “leading digital nation” by 2030, CEDA chief executive Melinda Cilento said.
– Services Australia reported a total of five eligible data breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) since the start of FY2019. All reported breaches involved human error. More than 200 people were reportedly impacted by the breaches.
– The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has put out a call to its Partners to help pilot its Critical Infrastructure Uplift Program (CI-UP), aimed to raise the security posture of critical infrastructure organisations. The pilot will assess cybersecurity maturity, provide vulnerability and risk mitigation recommendations, and assist partners in implementing recommended risk mitigation strategies.
Critical infrastructure entities that are ACSC Partners can register their interest to participate in the pilot through the ACSC Partner Hub.
– NSW’s crime corruption commission has warned Service NSW it must improve its access management procedures after an investigation revealed a member of staff misused the state’s driver and vehicle registration system. The ICAC investigation found that a customer service officer had agreed, for financial benefit, to alter records in Service NSW’s driver and vehicle IT system (DRIVES) restricted database.
– The CSIRO has released an enquiry through AusTender to review the prospect of implementing a Procurement and Payment Transformation Project (PPTP). In a effort to overhaul longstanding manual and paper-based processes, the system would seek to provide e-invoicing, payment data and procurement improvements.
The solution would serve to streamline existing financial, procurement and payment procurement processes, establishing an “integrated automated systems [to] enable business units to obtain savings and efficiencies as well as assist staff to access procurement and payment processes that are of a user-centric design”, the chief research agency said.
– The NSW Government, partnering with Liverpool City council, is set to trial a new digital ‘smart kerb’ system that shows street parking availability in real-time.
Digital and Customer Service minister Victor Dominello said the technology will free up and optimise parking in suburban business districts, ensuring “drivers and small business are getting an equal share”. Data will also be captured from the new system, which could augur the introduction of a follow-up live ‘parking app’ to track available parking spots across the council. The trial will last 12 months.
The state government has also announced the release of a ‘park now, pay later’ feature as part of the NSW Government’s Park’nPay app.
– DCI Data Centers, a key supplier to government, has announced plans to build a new, $70 million energy-efficient data centre in Adelaide. Dubbed the SA’s “most energy-efficient secure data centre facility”, DCI said the new facility is in response to the growing needs of local business and government for “data centre capacity and secure cloud edge services”. The centre is expected to be up and running by mid-2022.
In February this year, DCI secured approval to build a $400 million facility with Tier III resilience in Sydney, specifically designed for public and private hyperscale cloud, content, and managed services providers.
Budget 2021-21 Wrap
As has become the wont of Australian governments of recent years, announcements for many of Budget 2021’s big-ticket digital initiatives had already been released prior to Budget night.
Among these included the Digital Economy Strategy, which served as the focal point of the Government’s tech investments for the 2021 Budget.
The $1.2 billion digital economy plan encompasses numerous technology and digital programs already underway. However, still emerging from the Covid crisis, the Government unsurprisingly showed a noticeable bent towards healthtech investments.
Among these include a nearly half a billion dollar allocation ($422 million) over two years for the My Health Record, Australia’s national digital health records system, as well funding for the Australian Digital Health
Agency (ADHA), which also includes the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Digital Health, supporting greater Commonwealth and state government collaboration on a digital health capability.
The Government has also pledged $111.2 million over four years to increase Australians’ access “to high quality digital mental health services”.
More than $200 million will be invested in telehealth, upping an initial promise of $114 million to extend tele services introduced in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak until the end of the year.
Another $200.1 million over two years has been earmarked to” develop and transition government services” to the centralised myGov platform.
The Government also appears to have taken a keen interest in Artificial Intelligence technologies, allocating $53.8 million over four years to create a National AI Centre as well as four AI and Digital Capability Centres to provide support to SMEs in adopting AI.
Another $33.7 million over four years will be offered as grants to businesses to collaborate with Government in developing AI-based solutions “to solve national challenges”, while another $24.7 million over six years will go towards the establishment of the Next Generation AI Graduates Program, offering scholarships to AI specialists.
The Government will also look to expand the Consumer Data Right beyond banking, earmarking $111.3 million over the next two years to bring the energy and telecommunications sectors into the consumer data-sharing scheme.
The Australian National Audit Office will also receive $61.5 million over four years to address issues around new financial data and records management arrangements and audit controls associated with Covid-19, as well as support for increased cybersecurity requirements.
Among the other data-focused initiatives include a $40.2 million investment over four years to build a three-dimensional Digital Atlas of Australia’s geography, “to support business investment, environmental management and natural disaster responses”.
Another $16.5 million over four years will go towards identifying data assets and developing a searchable catalogue for Government data.
Australia’s cyber and digital talent shortfall was also addressed in the latest Budget, with $43.8 million allocated over three years to expand the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund.
A further $22.6 million will fund more than 23o scholarships in emerging technologies as part of the Government’s Next Generation Emerging Technologies Graduates Program, while $10.7 million will support up to four industry-led Digital Skills Cadetship pilots, creating new career pathways for Australians with high-level digital skills.
The Department of Home Affairs will receive $42 million to help secure its critical infrastructure assets, boosting its defence against major cyber-attacks.
Announced outside of the Digital Economy Strategy, The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is set for a major overhaul of its IT system as well as the creation of a new data-sharing analytics solution. The Government allocate $40.7 million to the DVA to develop a fully integrated Data Sharing Analytics Solution that will provide the agency and the defence department with “improved data to better identify and prevent long-term illness and injury [of veterans] through longitudinal data analysis”.
Another $21.4 million over four years will go towards uplifting the DVA’s data and analytical capability, supporting real-time monitoring and response to veterans’ health and wellbeing.
Australia’s front-line biosecurity teams will also get a boost, with $31.2 million over four years allocated to “deliver digital capability” for biosecurity screening of incoming international mail. Another $28.7 million over four years will support the upgrade of Australia’s Maritime Arrivals and Reporting System, while $19.5 million will support a trial of pre-border biosecurity screening technology to screen travellers and air cargo.
An undisclosed sum will be allocated to the progressive rollout of the Government’s shared enterprise resource planning platform, GovERP, which manages accounts and resources for the Australian Public Service.
The popular Regional Connectivity Program has been provided upwards of $80 million over two years to support the delivery of “reliable, affordable and innovative digital services and technologies” across regional and remote Australia.