Enhancing digital productivity: significant activities and achievements
Significant activities and achievements in 2014–15
Establish the Digital Transformation Officer
- Policy advice on maximising the productivity benefits across the economy arising from use and application of digital services and technology.
- Timely, effective and evidence-based policy advice on e-government capabilities and readiness.
During 2014–15, we provided support and strategic policy advice on e-government, which contributed to the Government’s decision to invest $254.7 million over four years in a new Digital Transformation Office ( DTO Digital Transformation Office )—an Executive Agency Agencies are Departments of State, Departments of Parliament and ’prescribed agencies’ for the purposes of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. Where the term is used generally in this document, it is meant to refer to departments, agencies, authorities and non—commercial companies within the Communications portfolio—to implement its Digital Transformation Agenda.
The DTO will deliver a streamlined user experience for individuals and businesses transacting with government by reducing red tape and increasing the efficiency of government service delivery. The Agenda is designed to transform the design and delivery of government services so they are easy to find, simple to use and convenient to access in a safe and secure way.
The DTO will play a strong, central role in implementing the Agenda.
Research advice on digital productivity
- Quality and contribution of research produced by the Department to identify, assess and explain developments in technologies and communications networks and services.
Measuring digital productivity
The Bureau of Communications Research The Department’s independent economic and statistical research unit identifies, assesses and explains developments in technologies and communications networks and services, and provides that research advice to the Government. A key project is working to improve how the impact of digitisation on productivity growth in the Australian economy is measured and understood.
Through more thorough data analysis and qualitative and econometric research, this project supports the Department’s goal of enhancing digital productivity by creating a more comprehensive evidence base for better-quality policy advice, and improved understanding of the role of digitisation in national productivity. This project will report by the end of 2015.
Improving future planning and priority setting
The Bureau of Communications Research is developing an internal strategic issues framework to improve our understanding of emerging issues and trends in the sector. The framework is both an interactive model and ongoing information gathering and analysis tool that will inform future policy development, strategic planning and research priorities, as well as engage stakeholders in the sector on future developments. It will significantly enhance our ability to identify, assess and explain developments in the sector and improve the quality of advice we provide to government.
Availability of communications data and statistics
The Bureau of Communications Research has implemented an Analyst Workbench—a big data platform hosted in the cloud that captures and makes readily available key data from across the communications sector. The Analyst Workbench has integrated tools for statistical and analytical analysis to be performed on the data to inform decision making for policy development. The unit continues to work with other areas of government to improve the quality and availability of data and statistical information for the communications sector. Current projects include:
- A joint review with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to evaluate the usefulness of ICT statistics available to policymakers and investigate ways of improving the relevance, currency and accuracy of data. This review is expected to report in late August 2015.
- A review of portfolio data collection and reporting arrangements on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA Australian Communications and Media Authority ) and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ( ACCC Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ) to ensure their efficiency and ongoing relevance, as part of the Government’s 2015 Reducing Red Tape programme.
- Progress on the increased number of government data sets accessible online.
In collaboration with the Department of Finance, we have increased the number and quality of public sector datasets available through the open data network. We have worked with partner agencies across all levels of government to create a seamless open data network that allows people to ‘mashup’ datasets: that is provide access to people to re-usable public data, and see what new services or opportunities they can create from them.
With our partner agencies, we released over 2,200 spatially-referenced datasets on the NationalMap, a platform that allows users to mashup or download open government datasets.
In 2014–15, we continued to implement our strategy of identifying and releasing datasets of high value to the economy. We released datasets relating to mobile phone black spots and nationwide water observations from space, as well as 22 new datasets from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In collaboration with New York University, we have delivered the Open Data 500 Study. This is the first of a series of engagements with Australian companies and non-government organisations (NGOs) that use open government data to generate new business, develop new products and services, improve business operations or create social value. By taking part in the study, the Australian Government will gain valuable information about how the private sector uses open data and give Australian organisations an opportunity to request particular public sector datasets that would be of value to their business if made open.
Economics of open data
The Bureau’s Open Data Project critically reviews the economic theories, methodologies, assumptions and quantitative estimates of the economic benefits of open government data. The assessment complements the work being done as part of the Open Data 500 Study and will help develop and improve policies and guidelines on open government data.
National ICT Australia Limited (NICTA)
- NICTA National Information Communications Technology Australia ’s contribution to the commercialisation of ICT and online innovation and the development of ICT and online research and commercialisation skills.
NICTA has been operating since 2002 and has become the largest and most successful dedicated ICT research organisation in Australia. In 2014–15, it received total funding of $42.8 million under the ICT Centre of Excellence Programme—$21.4 million from our Department and $21.4 million from the Australian Research Council. In 2014, it generated $18.4 million in commercial revenue.
At 31 December 2014, NICTA had 328 research and technical staff, as well as 117 professional and administration staff. NICTA produced around a quarter of Australia’s ICT PhDs with its 22 partner universities across Australia—294 PhD candidates were sponsored by the ICT Centre of Excellence. It created 109 Australian jobs in 2014, spinning off two new companies and working with major companies to improve their productivity and competitiveness.
NICTA’s innovations in computer vision in 2014 included the completion of orientation and mobility trials of two retinal implant patients using a NICTA algorithm suite. This is the most sophisticated result ever reported as being trialled with patients. Another key achievement in computer vision included the development of Deep Track, a tracking algorithm that intelligently locates and keeps track of objects.
Significant contributions in privacy research activities put NICTA at the centre of the world stage during 2014. This included Online Privacy modelling, threats identification and privacy-enhancing technologies, as well as work in measurement and characterisation of large-scale content delivery networks and online social networks.
In optimisation, NICTA has solved a problem that has been open to the artificial intelligence research community for over five years: the complexity of seeding a knockout tournament so that a given team wins.
Two world-first technology start-ups were successfully launched and subsequently acquired by large companies in 2014. Yuruware developed technology that allows businesses to protect systems in Clouds and Ambiata created a unique platform that allows data analytics based on machine learning algorithms.
In November 2014, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited NICTA Australian Technology Park in Sydney as part of her G20 mission to Australia. Chancellor Merkel toured the Future Logistics Living Lab and the Digital Productivity Showcase, which focuses on developing secure and reliable software systems.
The Australian Government announced in the 2014–15 Budget it would maintain $84.9 million in funding for NICTA until 30 June 2016.
The Government is working with NICTA to help identify strategies to secure its ongoing operational viability beyond 30 June 2016 when Commonwealth funding will cease. This includes the possibility of a merger between NICTA and CSIRO to create an Australian ICT research powerhouse.
The Department of Communications is providing $6 million over four years (2013–14 to 2016–17) to NICTA to deliver the Digital Careers programme, with the support of a consortium of relevant industry associations, state and territory governments, research organisations and education providers.
The programme aims to address Australia’s ICT skills shortage and contribute to building a robust and sustainable ICT capability for Australia’s digital economy. It supports a national package of education and careers projects aimed at inspiring students from year five to year ten to study ICT in schools and then continue this interest in years 11 and 12, at university, and into the jobs of the future.
In 2014, the Digital Careers team attended a total of 40 careers fairs, reaching over 200,000 students, parents and teachers. In partnership with the Australian Computing Society Foundation, Digital Careers has developed the ACS Career Wheel, which illustrates the diverse range of technology careers available to ICT professionals.
As part of its business development strategy, the Digital Careers team has engaged with over 90 organisations including tertiary institutions, industry, professional associations, research organisations and state governments. Most of these organisations, for example the Australian Computer Society, the Australian Information Industry Association, Google and IBM support the programme by providing in-kind or cash contributions.
- Take-up of, and feedback on, initiatives and projects to maximise productivity benefits from digital services and technologies, including Digital Hubs Operating in 40 communities since 2012, this Programme had provided a place where people could go to get help to improve their digital literacy skills by attending free group training, or seeking one-on-one assistance. It ended on 30 June 2015 , Digital Enterprises, Digital Business, Digital Business Kits and Digital Local Government.
We manage the digitalbusiness.gov.au website, which provides up-to-date practical guidance for Australian small-to-medium businesses ( SMEs small-to-medium businesses ), not-for-profit ( NFP Not for profit ) organisations and community groups about how to establish or enhance their online presence. The site is specifically designed for people who are ready to get the most benefit out of the internet for their organisations.
The content on the website covers a broad range of topics including: the benefits of getting online, establishing an online presence, improving productivity with online tools, engaging in e-commerce, e-marketing and social media, online security and legal issues. The content provided uses easy to understand language and aims to increase the digital literacy skills of our audience.
The website also provides practical information including how-to guides, blog posts on latest trends, and video case studies showcasing real world success stories. These case studies provide practical examples of local businesses that are engaging online and achieving success.
The following case studies show the key points in a business cycle where SMEs and NFPs are likely to adopt digital change. The videos aim to inspire other entrepreneurs to take that next step and embed digital into their business.
Lark online retail store specialises in designer homeware and giftware. Lark founders, Alison Jones and Paul Mathews moved from the United Kingdom to Daylesford in Victoria to give their small family an Australian country lifestyle. The possibility of finding corporate jobs in a small town was limited, so they decided to start their own business using their marketing skills and passion for great design.
Otway Artisan Gluten Free Bakery explored options to expand its small business by creating an online presence. Owner and baker Justin Garner embarked on the project with a vision that the new website would be the shopfront of the small bakery and that customers would buy and pay for the product through the site, allowing him to focus on his passion, baking bread.
The Digital Business website has seen steady year-on-year user growth. The focus in 2014–15 included promotional activities to help increase awareness of the website and increase stakeholder engagement. As a result, audience engagement with digitalbusiness.gov.au has continued to grow. The average visits increased by 39 per cent on the previous financial year. These visits resulted in more than 327,317 page views over the year, an increase of 19.63 per cent on the previous year.
Digital Business Kits Programme
Nine industry peak bodies were funded to develop online Digital Business Kits. These provide tailored and industry-specific information resources to help SMEs and NFPs use digital platforms to transition their businesses into the digital age and realise the benefits of high-speed broadband. The industry sectors and peak bodies funded to develop and implement the kits were:
- Manufacturing—Australian Industry Group
- Retail—National Retailers’ Association
- Healthcare services—The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
- Hospitality—Restaurant and Catering Australia
- Construction—Master Electricians Association
- Professional services—Australian Services Roundtable
- Early childhood education and care—Early Childhood Australia/li>
- Community and social services—Australian Council of Social Services
- Arts, recreation and education services—Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
Each kit is hosted on the relevant industry website and contains a series of modules on various subjects. These modules take many forms including video case studies, step-by-step tutorials, interactive webinars, blogs and printed resource materials. Each of the nine kits went live during 2014. Since then the kits have reported a significant increase in unique users to their websites.
The Digital Hubs Programme ended on 30 June 2015. Operating in 40 communities since 2012, it had provided a place where people could go to get help to improve their digital literacy skills by attending free group training, or seeking one-on-one assistance.
Qualified trainers worked in the Digital Hubs to provide practical advice and demonstrate new technology enhanced by high-speed broadband, for people of all skill levels and experience. Participants provided very positive feedback through an online evaluation form. Over 93 per cent told us they were satisfied with the standard of training and that the content was useful.
In total, the Programme delivered over 73,000 group and individual training sessions to almost 140,000 participants from Digital Hubs located typically in public libraries, community centres and educational institutions. Even after the Programme ended, Digital Hubs will have a lasting impact as nearly 30 of the funded service providers have incorporated the Digital Hub into the core business of their organisation or have engaged enthusiastic volunteers to continue this work.
Digital Local Government
The Digital Local Government Programme ended on 30 June 2015. Grant funding was provided to 47 local councils to develop and deliver online services to homes and businesses. Councils have been busy implementing technology that has seen improved delivery of health services, disaster management, 3D modelling and mapping, development applications, and high-definition videoconferencing.
Feedback from users of these improved services has been very positive:
‘Thanks to the staff trainer, I even managed to change the “presenter” so another person could share the document! We all thought it was FAB, especially since it saved 4 hours of travel time. Thanks so much for your help and patience.’
‘I just wanted to say how excellent Blue Jeans is—the clarity of vision and audio is far superior to any Skype sessions that I have experienced to date. It seemed very reliable and I think it will give me and others far more confidence to think seriously about holding electronic meetings in the future. Congrats to the IT team for introducing this and thanks again for assisting with the set-up of the system.’
The Digital Enterprise Programme A Government funded programme to provide free group training and face-to-face support to help small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organisations improve the way they do business and deliver services online will enter its fifth and final year in 2015–16. Through a combination of over 13,000 group training sessions and dedicated mentoring sessions carried out in an organisation’s place of business, nearly 42,000 participants have been helped to increase their digital knowledge and skills. This has translated into organisational improvements, behavioural change and an increased understanding of the economic benefits of doing more online.
Small businesses have been learning to improve their online presence and competitiveness, offer new products and services, expand their market and increase the ways they communicate with customers and suppliers. The Programme is also helping not-for-profit organisations deliver services online, carry out online fundraising and awareness activities, and achieve administrative efficiencies using online tools.
The Programme is making a difference with over 96 per cent of participants finding the training useful and easy to understand, and over 87 per cent intending to improve their online presence and activity.
Watch the Melville Digital Enterprise Programme video to see how the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce helped organisations in the community increase their online skills and capability, and improve their businesses.
 NICTA reports on a calendar-year basis, so performance against KPIs reflects results for the 2014 calendar year.Skip to next content block