GovTech Weekly News Wrap – 25 August, 2020

Weekly news wrap of government technology

The Federal Court hands out massive fine to online health ‘marketplace’ for illicit data sharing; ACSC warns of spike in phone and remote access scams during lockdown, with scammers appearing to impersonate government officials.

Tracking the week that was in digital innovations and developments across Australia and New Zealand’s public sectors.

  • The ACSC and ACCC have warned of a recent spike in phone and remote access scams. Scammers are believed to be targeting vulnerable individuals based in locked-down areas, impersonating government agency representatives and telecommunications companies. Cybercriminals appear to be using personal details gained through remote access applications, such as Team Viewer or Zoho Assist, to access people’s devices, from where they can easily breach bank and other online accounts.


  • Australia’s Digital Health Agency will roll out electronic prescriptions across Greater Melbourne area to support residents during the Covid-19 crisis, expanding beyond the initial ‘communities of interest’. The DHA said the system will allow for safer and more convenient dispensing of medication for Melbourne residents during lockdown.


  • The Federal Court has ordered HealthEngine, self-described as Australia’s largest online health marketplace, to pay $2.9 million in penalties for sharing, without consent, patient personal information to private health insurance brokers and publishing misleading patient reviews and ratings. Between April 2014 and June 2018 the company gave non-clinical personal information, such as names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, of more than 135,000 patients to third party private health insurance brokers without adequately disclosing this to consumers.


  • The National Archives of Australia has enlisted Preservica in a three-year deal to build a specialist digital preservation system. The system will support the archiving of digital and physical records from Australian Government agencies.



  • The Department of Home Affairs has gone live with an early phase of its new real-time intelligence system (NCIS), a replacement for the legacy Australian criminal intelligence database (ACID). The NCIS earlier this year was reportedly moved from in-house infrastructure to Microsoft’s protected-level Azure public cloud environment.


  • WA Police has put forward a proposal to use video analytics software on footage captured by front-line officers to find and track persons or objects of interest. The Force has issued an expression of interest for a video analytics solution to be used together with its newly implemented AXON digital evidence management system (DEMS).


  • The eSafety Commission has launched a new course, Introduction to buying and selling online, to assist seniors with accessing goods and services online. The initiative follows research by the Commission which found just seven per cent of Australians aged between 50 to 65 years bought groceries or shopped online during Covid-19 restrictions earlier this year.


  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing a $2.17 million funding boost to the Alice Springs Future Grid project, bringing the total cost of the project to over $9 million. The Future Grid project aims to strengthen renewable energy sources around Alice Springs and surrounds.


  • Western Australia’s North Metro Health Service (NHMS) recently enlisted Microsoft to build a patient data collection platform to support the Health Service during the Covid-19 surge.


  • The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has announced it will push ahead with its Digital Summit and Australian Government Digital Awards this year. Summit 2020 will be held virtually across four days from 10-19 November.



  • The ACT Government is extending its free Wi-Fi network across Canberra and increasing the daily download limit from 250MB to 1GB per person. The extension of the network is said to “cover every Canberra town centre”.


  • The CSIRO has announced the launch of a new ‘Team Australia’ initiative to bolster Australia’s long-term Covid-19 recovery. The large scale, major scientific and collaborative research initiatives “will be aimed at solving some of Australia’s greatest challenges… [leading to] new jobs and economic growth”, the research agency said.


  • An automated building audit support tool developed by the ACT Government and Esri Australia has won Esri’s top Special Achievement in GIS Award. The tool helps inspectors and regulatory officers speed up the building audit and inspection process. The winning entry beat out 400,000 other organisations globally.


  • The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and NCI Australia will join a Covid-19 consortium led by the White House. The Consortium, to be funded by the Australian Government, will bring together government, industry, and academic leaders to find ways of leveraging supercomputing power to guide Covid-19-related research.


  • Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews met virtually with White House officials to discuss further cooperation in science and technology initiatives between the US and the Australian governments. Andrews voiced hope that further collaboration in AI, quantum computing, oceans exploration and mapping, and research integrity could support post-Covid-19 recovery.


  • Australian energy provider AGL is set to install a “big battery” on Torrens Island in South Australia. The SA Government welcomed the move to help lower energy costs and emissions. Older generators on Torrens Island are expected to be retired over the coming years; the new battery is hoped to meet peak demand and fill in the gaps between wind and solar generation.



  • The Australian Space Agency has announced it has funded 10 Australian projects directly supporting Australia’s international space industry. Among the successful grant applicants include Human Aerospace, which is working to develop a next generation of spacesuits. RMIT University and Cape Bionics have also been awarded grants.