Govtech News Wrap – 3 June, 2021

Weekly news wrap of government technology

The Reserve Bank goes to market for a new identity and access management solution; Tasmania picks Oracle for vaccine rollout platform; and Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner cites current procurement processes as key barrier to fair adoption of emerging tech in government.

  •  NSW Police is set to become one of Australia’s first customers of the SpaceX-built satellite internet constellation program Starlink. The service currently offers speeds between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps (faster than many existing satellite internet offerings), with a beta version made available to parts of southern NSW and central Victoria in April.


  • The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is looking to update its identity and access management (IDAM) capabilities, introducing more automated controls to its existing platform that it says would help to “future-proof” the central bank’s processes. The RBA notes that it relies currently on a heavy mix of manual and automated processed to enforce bank controls. It added that a new IDAM environment would help reduce the risk of unauthorised data access and support staff with the delivery of normal operational activities.


  • Across the ditch, The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it was hacked after Accellion, a secure file sharing and collaboration platform provider used by the central bank, failed to send notification that its File Transfer Appliance (FTA) contained an actively exploited vulnerability with patches available. In a follow-up audit, KPMG said that the email tool used by Accellion “failed to send … notifications and consequently the bank was not notified until January 6 2021”.


  • Australia’s forthcoming digital identity system could be extended to help protect minors from accessing explicit content, with the Federal Government agreeing in principle to the use of the digital ID system to verify age when accessing online wagering and pornography. The call was made in response to a report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs tabled in February 2020 which recommended the extension of the digital ID system.


  • Outgoing Australian Human Rights Commissioner (AHRC) Ed Santow has challenged the government’s existing procurement processes, considering it a key vulnerability in the fair development and use of emerging technologies. As part of its latest report, the AHRC made nearly 40 recommendations for the Government to encourage technology adoption that is fair and protects human rights, with a number of recommendations centred on the procurement process itself. Speaking with InnovationAus, Santow said: “The Government needs to be able to ask the right questions in the procurement process. That is a point of real vulnerability. If you don’t get that right you can end up with an AI system that causes real harm.” The AHRC has also called for stronger laws around the use of facial recognition and other biometric technologies, recommending a ban on its use in “high-risk” areas, as well as urging for the creation of an AI Safety Commissioner.


  • The NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has released a new data dashboard to track, in real-time, groundwater extractions and measure potential problems accessing groundwater. The dashboard displays data for each groundwater source, including the volume remaining before extraction limits are reached.


  • The Tasmanian Government will deploy Oracle’s cloud-based digital health platform, streamlining Covid-19 vaccine registration for the state’s more than 500,000 residents.


  • Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) and Flinders University have established a Centre of Expertise for Electronic Warefare to nurture cyber defence talent and address a “looming shortfall in electronic warfare skills”. Leading the new Centre, DSTG defence scientist Professor Sam Drake has been appointed inaugural Flinders University Chair of Electromagnetic Systems and Security.


  • IP Australia, the agency overseeing intellectual property rights in Australia, has released the latest version of its IPGOD, or Intellectual Property Government Open Data, via IPGOD2021 is a publicly available dataset that includes more than 110 years of information on IP rights applications administered by the agency.


  • The Queensland Government will invest $200,000 into a digital herd monitoring trial that equips cows with “smart collars” that monitor health. Funding for the project is being provided through the Government’s Digital Transformation in Agribusiness Initiative, established last year to assist the state’s Covid-19 recovery.


  • The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has put out a request for tender from independent third-party benchmarking service providers to conduct routine telecommunications price benchmarking of carriage services (Data, Internet and Voice), as well as complementary capabilities to conduct benchmarking of other commodity-based ICT services supplied under the whole-of-government panels, including mobile services and desktop services.


  • The New Zealand Government has signed a three-year renewal for the second term of its Microsoft Cloud, Software and Services Agreement (MCSSA). The MCSSA was first signed in 2018 for two three year terms. The renewal provides eligible government organisations continued access to volume discounts and preferential terms for Microsoft cloud software and services.


  • Queensland’s Office of the Information Commissioner has published updated guidance on the sharing of personal information between agencies. The guidelines provide requirements necessary for agencies to share personal information with one another or health agencies, as well as steps to mitigate privacy risks associated with information sharing.