$1B cash splash for NSW’s IT – Budget 2017-18 brief

The New South Wales Government has earmarked $1 billion in spending for digital initiatives, with healthcare, emergency services and government administration technologies set to receive significant funding boosts, the 2017-18 Budget reveals.

We review some of the key digital beneficiaries of the NSW Government’s $72.7 billion spending program.

Government Admin – iVote to be rebuilt

Hinting at a possible expansion of the state’s digital voting facilities, the NSW Electoral Commission will receive nearly $23 million over four years to enhance and secure their online systems, including “an end-to-end solution for the disclosure of political donations, expenditure and the lodgment of public funding claims.”

Of this, more than $5 million will be allocated to an overhaul of the state’s iVote online voting system – ample time for the next election in 2019. iVote proved a resounding hit during the last election, receiving a 96 per cent satisfaction rating from voters.

Regional centres will also receive a much-needed infrastructure boost, with $20 million to be spent on upgrading 24 former motor registries in regional areas into ‘Service NSW’ centres.

Digital driver’s licences are set to become reality, with $8.4 million to be invested for their development and future rollout.

Treasury will also pursue a modernisation drive, directing $9.9 million to create the Financial Management Transformation (FMT) program. Notably, the 2017 budget was the first to be delivered on the department’s Oracle-based ‘Prime’ financial management and reporting system.

GovConnectNSW – a centralised IT support service for government departments – will receive $8.9 million to continue its delivery of payroll, accounting, HR and ICT services to NSW agencies. The cash boost comes after a series of mishaps on the platform, following the controversial outsourcing of the inter-departmental service to Unisys and Infosys.

Healthcare – A cash booster

Digital health infrastructure has received a sizable cash injection, with more than $520 million directed to digitisation and e-health programs. This includes $236.2 million for an integrated digital patient records initiative, to improve the storage and retrieval of medical data across the state. NSW Ambulance will also be linked to the system, giving real-time access to digital records.

Another $286.3 million will be spent over nine years in a Whole of System Digital Platform to "enhance the digital infrastructure that supports clinical and other health-related systems across the state," improving networking and connectivity within the medical services. Of this, $16.4 million will be allocated within 2017-18 budget year.

Emergency Services – Robocops

A whopping $178 million (to be spent over two years) has been allocated to building a state-wide radio network, consolidating 70 disparate emergency services communication networks into a single network.

NSW Police has received $51 million for the ‘Policing For Tomorrow Technology Fund’ (more than half the allocated four-year budget for the program). The ‘Fund’ promises “state-of-the-art technology” for the police service, including body worn video cameras, mobile fingerprint scanners, portable narcotic analysers, and tablets.

Education – Regional schools to go wireless

NSW schools will receive an extra $1 billion for infrastructure and equipment (50 per cent higher than estimated in last years’ budget), bringing the total capital spend to $2.6 billion over four years.

This includes $46 million over four years to boost wireless access and internet capacity across 900 regional schools.

Utilities – Water, water everywhere

Sydney Water will receive $156 million to upgrade its customer experience programs (CxP), with an overhaul of its billing platforms and customer management system, expected to deliver “customer service enhancements and more efficient processes.”

A further $85.7 million will go towards "modernising Sydney Water’s unified Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform to support agility and efficiency initiatives.

Environment – Richer biodiversity

$18 million for digital and IT platforms to underpin biodiversity reforms, supporting integrated ICT systems across the Office of Environment and Heritage and Local Land Services.

Local government – ePlanning platform gets boost

A push to replace local government’s antiquated paper processes, with an $11.8 million boost for the ePlanning platform – a cloud-based development application (DA) assessment platform for regional councils and small metropolitan councils.

Small Business – Online support for start-ups

$9.4 million earmarked for an online portal and red tape reduction to assist local start-ups.

Land and Property – Paperless transition

The NSW land title and registry system will receive a portion of $8 million to transition to a paperless conveyancing system.