Congratulations to the iTnews Benchmark Awards 2020 winners.
With the arrival of digital driver’s licences last year, NSW citizens took another step toward ditching their wallets.
But for public transport users yet to make the jump to contactless payments via digital wallets, the physical Opal smartcard is still standing in the way.
That could soon change, with Transport for NSW planning to trial a virtual equivalent of the Opal card backed by a new account-based digital ticketing and payments platform, dubbed Opal Connect.
Launched last October, the Opal Connect platform provides a new way for customers to keep track of all their public transport payments, whether this is via Opal card or credit or debit cards.
In the rough and tumble that is daily life in Australia’s retail banking and financial services sector, the performance of institutions in the eyes of customers and shareholders alike is today, more than ever, linked to solid technology strategy and execution.
Core systems renewals, better customer software, apps and bots are now all the currency of progress for commercial banks, yet few Australians realise that one of the biggest transactional players in the ecosystem is actually the government, namely the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).
Ask almost any Australian what the letters ‘RBA’ mean to them and the chances are your answer will be ‘interest rates’ – it is after all a central bank.
But what most Australians don’t immediately realise is that much of the digital progress made by the sector here over the last decade has been spurred on by the RBA, ranging from better online resilience to making real-time payments a reality.
Westpac’s internal technology shop has always been in it for the long haul.
Come the rain, shine and the occasional hail of management changes, Australia’s oldest bank has not wavered from materially improving customer service.
Not just online and in branches but for the technology its staff use day to day to make things happen.
As a multi-brand bank, a core challenge of Westpac has been standardising and unifying systems that have served their time well, but need to move with the times.
When former Communication Minister and later Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull established the Digital Transformation Agency’s upstart predecessor five years ago, solving Australia's digital identity problem was front and centre.
“One of the Digital Transformation Office’s first tasks will be to ensure people no longer have to complete separate log on processes for each government service,” he said in January 2015.
“Instead, people should have a ‘digital identity’, which they can use to log in to each of their services across the government.”
A year earlier, the government’s landmark financial system inquiry led by David Murray had declared Australia’s identity environment fragmented and uncoordinated.
The report recommended that a national federated digital identity, supported by a trusted digital identity framework, be developed to let citizens easily and securely access digital services.
When Michelle Dobson worked as a bank teller, she found herself serving the victim of a break-in whose bank cards and ID documents had been stolen from her home in a brazen overnight heist.
Now head of technology at ANZ Banking Group's cloud business office, Dobson still recalls that experience of helping a customer at a moment of crisis and being able to offer comfort and make a difference.
Dobson became a teller after initially studying nursing, deciding it was not for her, before finding herself as a manager of a Strathfield Car Radios store. Still in her early twenties, progression deeper into management was blocked by her youth and lack of qualifications.
So Dobson returned to University to study business and information systems, and applied for part-time work as a bank teller.
Faced with a 17 percent ‘no show’ rate for legal advice appointments last year, the Legal Services Commission of South Australia built a secure file transfer portal to help its client’s access legal aid.
The portal, dubbed PhotoLegal, has been developed to allow SA residents to confidentially share information with the commission’s legal advisers without needing to attend appointments in person.
It also eliminates the risk of sending copies of sensitive documents using non-secure methods such as email.
Using end-to-end encryption, the portal can be used to upload and transmit images, PDF files and Word documents from any device.
GrainCorp is reducing the risk for Australian growers being left out-of-pocket when brokering the sale of their grain by introducing a Secured Payment process to its CropConnect digital marketplace.
The Secured Payments option was launched in May last year for farmers warehousing grain at GrainCorp sites.
Before it existed, grain suppliers and buyers congregated via CropConnect but it was simply a “match-making service” connecting the two parties.
The actual transaction needed to be settled outside of the platform, saddling growers with risk if and when a buyer didn’t pay within the advertised terms.
International students have long been big business for Australian universities, but checking their eligibility, qualifications and English language proficiency is a complex and time consuming task.
The University of Adelaide decided to automate much of the process with a chatbot that pops up automatically on the international students’ page on its website.
The bot offers a series of simple questions tailored to each student’s home country to pre-assess suitability for entry, powered by data on each country’s academic qualifications system and language analysis to gauge English language skills.
Aside from offering more assistance to international students than has ever been available, the chatbot has lowered the university’s cost to serve each potential student, increased the volume of pre-qualified leads and delivered a scalable solution to augment the Prospect Management team’s limited resources.
Queensland’s 77 local councils combined spend $250 million on energy every year, but until now have had little insight into what they could be doing to reduce their costs or how they compare to other councils.
After a survey of members highlighted a growing desire for stronger data and analytics capability, the Local Government Association Queensland has been working to develop a tool to delve into councils’ energy spend.
Analytics and Special Projects principal at LGAQ, Brodie Ruttan, told iTnews the Energy Detective leverages existing data tools including AWS, Snowflake, Alteryx and Tableau, with council assets benchmarked by kilowatt consumption per square metre per day.
He said the association was able to secure buy-in from councils, who are understandably wary about sharing data, because it was never envisioned as an ‘open data’ project for the whole world to see.
NAB is using DXC Technology’s Dandelion program to train people on the autism spectrum for cybersecurity careers.
Dandelion is DXC Technology’s flagship social impact program, resulting in the employment of 100-plus people on the autism spectrum directly.
In addition, the program has seen over 20 people employed as technical and support leads at other organisations, including ‘Big 4’ banks NAB and ANZ, as well as the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Social Services (DSS).
NAB has its own Neurodiversity at Work program, which it has worked closely with DXC to create and run.
Aged services provider Feros Care has introduced the Google Assistant to its in-home care clients to increase their access to information and services and reduce their reliance on the call centre.
Using Google Actions and the DialogFlow natural language processor along with custom APIs, Feros Care was able to create a voice activated system that connected with its MyFeros portal, used for everything from checking appointments to requesting assistance.
Every Feros interaction with clients is captured on the portal, including medical interventions and advice, all of which helps seniors self-manage their experience to retain independence.
Even though the system was designed to be as user-friendly as possible, some seniors still struggled with the interface, especially if they had mobility issues.
SA Water has refreshed critical control systems attached to drinking water and sewerage infrastructure that services 1.7 million people.
The utility sought to improve resilience and lower the risk of service interruptions through an upgrade and centralisation of the critical Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) environment that supports its distributed operations.
The new system allows SA Water to “monitor, control, upgrade and support our critical infrastructure on demand, with minimal service interruptions, and in any situation, from isolated issues to a state-wide power interruption or targeted cyber attack.”
It also makes use of a new type of programmable logic controller (PLC) designed specifically for water treatment plants.
Autonomous vehicles have long been touted as an opportunity to increase mobility and accessibility among the elderly, but so far IRT Group is the only aged care provider to make it a reality.
The project kicked off at its Kangara Waters lifestyle village in Canberra where IRT essentially had to build everything - including the government approval processes - from scratch.
Executive general manager of IT, John Vohradsky, said the opportunity to deploy a driverless shuttle was identified through the organisation’s “push-pull” IT strategy of meeting the pull of IRT’s needs across its business streams while continuously identifying opportunities to push new technologies.
“We were looking to push the new driverless technology to see how we could meet three main challenges pulling on the organisation, like the isolation the elderly can feel when their family and friends move away or people they know pass away,” he told iTnews.
The future of Australia’s energy mix has spawned innumerable heated arguments over how to balance secure electricity supply with economic and environmental needs, prompting energy consultants ITP to launch an open source modelling tool to settle arguments and provide clarity.
Inspired by similar open source models in Europe and North America, ITP launched the openCEM model as a free, transparent tool to cut through the complexity of Australia’s energy mix and how it can securely transition away from carbon.
“ITP felt, as many have felt, that public discussions around renewables were fraught with many assumptions and made with few facts and little expertise,” ITP strategy group manager Oliver Woldring said.
Woldring told iTnews that existing models privately held by companies weren’t freely available and the data and methodology underpinning them can be opaque - making it harder to answer the question about how we move from today’s energy grid to tomorrow’s.
WaterNSW has created a sophisticated data integration and analytics solution to safeguard the state’s dams and the people and buildings near them.
The solution, DamGuard, has enabled WaterNSW to make better use of "massive" data sets generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) and other data sources to improve dam safety.
Utilities are swamped by data. For example, WaterNSW uses data about everything from leakage and movement to pressure, seismic activity, weather and other factors, some of which is recorded using telemetry.
Multiple external organisations collect the data, and in the past they didn’t store it in the same system. Another problem was that some data needed for safety analysis was recorded on paper during manual inspections.