Digitising government service delivery

Providing seamless digital government services within Australia's federal structure will require the support of coordinated national information infrastructure.

Whether we are shopping, banking or making travel plans, Australians expect fast, easy and personalised access to online services. This has put the pressure on governments to live up to the same standards, especially as citizens have no choice but to engage with government for the public services they receive. Around the country, the public sector is working hard to apply digital strategies to transform public service delivery.

The goal of providing seamless service delivery to citizens has seen a focus on joining up services across departments and agencies and there are great examples such as Service NSW. However, as governments continue down the digital road, it becomes clear that whole-of-government approach won’t go far enough in delivering the vision of seamless citizen experience. Given Australia’s federal structure, providing true seamless service requires coordinating services across multiple tiers of government and between the various jurisdictions because service delivery responsibilities are shared. 

The digital world is also generating rivers of data, offering incredible opportunities to inform and reshape government service delivery. The power of quality data combined with strong analytic techniques has long been understood to drive successful evidence-based policy-making. The quantity of data able available to government will only grow as the Internet of Things gathers pace with an ever-increasing array of interconnected sensors in operation.

The term ‘big data’, as noted by many, is about trying to describe how the size (velocity, variety and volume) of the data becomes part of the problem of using the data. But on top of this, much of this raw data being generated by internet connected devices is messy, random and incomplete: making it difficult to rely on to support the effective and agile decision-making needed to promote growth, productivity and social opportunity.

All of this makes the digital government challenge incredibly complex. Governments will need to collaborate and cooperate on issues and approaches in order to generate better service outcomes for individuals, business and the community. Discussions are underway around common platforms and systems. But given the value of information, common national datasets must also be part of the unified approach to underpin it. And in particular, geospatial datasets. Why?

“Geographic information about people and the planet makes the invisible visible…it helps us make sense of big complex sets of data…it helps us to make better decisions and make better use of our resources. By collecting geographic information, we can: identify patterns in human and natural processes; predict the outcomes; and take preventive measures where and when needed.” United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management

A nationally consistent geospatial or geographic base where there is a high degree of confidence in the accuracy and quality of information offers the foundation for finding insights within masses of data as well as for promoting cooperation, collaboration and innovation. By recognising location data as fundamental information infrastructure for an innovative nation, the benefits that will flow to government, our economy and the community are enormous.

Dan Paull ipad
Dan Paull
Chief Executive Officer
PSMA Australia

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