NSW charts three-step path to digital dominance

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NSW charts three-step path to digital dominance
The upcoming NSW Pulse service

New strategy released.

The NSW government has unveiled a three-step digital transformation strategy that will require departments to report on their progress every six months.

The strategy details the government's targets in the areas of customer experience, data, and digital culture, as part of its long-stated pursuit to have 70 percent of government transactions on digital channels by 2019.

It is a continuation of the state's drive towards becoming a digital government.

Since its one-stop services shop ServiceNSW debuted in 2013, the agency has grown to offer 970 different types of government transactions online, and now counts 1.5 million registered users.

The state government wants to create a "data-informed and agile public service" that provides "easy to use" services, underpinned by four work areas: technology, cyber security, legislation, and delivery.

Standards will be set for each component within the three parent priorities, which span artificial intelligence, co-design, and identity management in the 'customer experience' segment; predictive self-learning tools and quality benchmarks in the 'data' priority; and cognitive/ machine learning, bots, automation, and simplification within the 'digital on the inside' component.

Finance Minister Victor Dominello also today said the government would amend legislation that had previously prohibited digital services from being implemented through a 'digital government' bill.

Departmental secretaries will be required to report on their performance against the priority areas outlined in the strategy every six months to government chief information and digital officer Damon Rees.

"We are only part of the way along our transformation journey towards a truly digital government. The digital transformation will require a mindset shift and cultural change in the public sector to provide customer-centric services in the digital economy," the strategy states.

Dominello wouldn't say whether any new funding would be attached to the strategy in next month's state budget, but indicated it was a "very good budget" for the digital efforts.

He detailed three examples of new digital services to be released by the state government.

The NSW Trends service will be a 'one-stop shop' for real-time public health data, like wait times for emergency departments within hospitals.

NSW Live will let anyone see "exactly what is going on across NSW on a map in real-time", offering data on things like current fires and hospital wait times, as well as the locations of fire trucks. The public will be asked to contribute data to the platform, Dominello said.

Meanwhile, the dMarketplace will be a "TripAdvisor for data", according to the minister. It will be an "interactive marketplace for data sharing" and make it easier to discover and access data from the likes of NSW Health and Transport NSW. Data will also be rateable for quality.

The state government also plans to launch a 'NSW Pulse' website which visualises how many smart meters have been deployed per region, which Dominello said would help support better regulation and focus on areas of need. The NSW government last year opened a voluntary rollout of smart meters.

'Underpinned by trust'

The state government was keen to emphasise the work it is doing in the area of cyber security to ensure its digital ambitions are equally considerate of user security and privacy.

It recently appointed Maria Milosavljevic as its first state CISO to drive a "step change" in cyber security capability across the NSW public sector.

Its new digital strategy details plans to penetration test the public sector for areas of vulnerability, alongside "annual cyber event simulations" to test agencies' ability to respond and recover from attack.

The public service will be required to meet sector-wide "non-negotiable minimum security standards". Collaboration within a "federation framework" will also be encouraged, and agencies will need to implement "strong and agile" response teams to ensure timely response to security incidents.

"Effective cyber security, robust risk controls and strong information management are central to maintaining the confidence and trust of our customers," the strategy states.

"From individual transactions to critical information sharing across agencies, a strong framework for managing information security and cyber risks is a pre-requisite for any modern digital government."

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