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Government Innovation

In the move towards the fully connected digital era, the expectation of greater data and information transparency as well as the contestability of advice are just some of the challenges facing government organisations and the public sector.


2 min

Social privacy in a public world



Social privacy in a public world

In an increasingly public world, privacy remains essential, says renowned US cryptographer Bruce Schneier.

Privacy is absolutely essential to the human experience, says American cryptographer and computer security expert Bruce Schneier. This is why, despite the rise of social media and the culture of sharing, privacy issues are not going away.

“We share more with third parties than we ever have – but that doesn’t mean we don’t value privacy, or that privacy isn’t a social good,” Schneier says.

“The issue with information sharing is that everyone wants to obtain information, but no one wants to give information away because it can be socially or professionally embarrassing. It can also expose liabilities that bad actors can make use of, which is why the concept of corporations admitting to and disclosing security breaches is a good idea.

“Some of it is destigmatising security breaches, and some of it is building those trusted communities so the bad guys are not listening in as well,” he says.

Although there are few laws around breach disclosure at present, a lot of sharing is already happening behind closed doors and within limited communities, says Schneier.

“Our society stagnates if there is no room for experimentation about privacy and disclosure, and if enforcement is perfect.”


Expert Tips

We share more with third parties than we ever have. That doesn’t mean we don’t value privacy, doesn’t mean that privacy isn’t a social good. But it really is deciding what and how we present ourselves in public and semi-public.

We are all very adept at social privacy. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary training in how to deal with personal privacy in social situations. You can walk into a room with people you know, people you don’t know and instantly you can intuit, you know, what you should share, what you shouldn’t, how you should act, and it’s different if you walk into a room with your family and your friends or your co-workers or some social group. We know how to do this.

The problem with information sharing is everyone wants information, no one wants to give information. And we don’t want to give it because it’s, you know, it’s embarrassing to our company, it could potentially expose liabilities.

On a very basic level, disclosing security breaches is a good idea. I think it really helps us to know about each other and how we’re doing in attacks. We have to figure how to launder it properly.

Some of it is destigmatising it and some of it is going to be building those trusted communities so the bad guys are not listening in as well. Our society stagnates if there is no space to experiment, if enforcement is perfect.

And there are lots of those sorts of arguments for privacy. This is why I don’t think privacy is dead or ever will be. It is too essential to the human experience.

Telstra understands that cyber security is complex and there is not a single solution that will combat all security challenges – talk to your AE today about how Telstra could boost and protect your business.

3 min

Breaking new ground: Innovation in the mining sector



Breaking new ground: Innovation in the mining sector

How companies respond to the pain points of technology is critical to success in today’s mining sector says Dr. Jeannette McGill, Telstra’s Head of Mining Services.

Having witnessed 20 years of cultural and technological evolution in the resources industry, Dr. Jeannette McGill, head of Telstra Mining Services, is no stranger to disruption in the mining sector.

It’s the way companies respond to the pain points of disruptive technology in mining that will make or break their business, says Dr. McGill, who also serves as non-executive director at the Council for Geoscience.

IN:SIGHT sat down with Dr. McGill to discuss the forces of technological disruption and the need for long-term, cyclical planning in this unique and vital industry.

IN:SIGHT: How does the cyclical, boom-bust nature of mining play into technological innovation and adoption?

Dr. Jeannette McGill: The mining sector is fairly unique if you compare it with straight manufacturing, beverages, transport and logistics. It’s probably one of the more conservative industrial sectors out there. Because it’s conservative, it tends to be fairly slow to adapt to change, fairly slow to adopt new technologies. There are some very real reasons the sector is like this, primarily because it takes between two to five years to construct a mine. Mining has such long lead times and the amount of financial capital required to build a mine is substantial. So the risk is quite high.

Mining is cyclical, so you have these cycles where prices are good, then they drop off and demand decreases, so it’s a natural, fundamental economic cycle. In a capital-intensive environment with these long lead times, it’s right that you tend to be a bit conservative and don’t want to adopt technologies that are OK today, but halfway through developing the mine, they’re not going to be relevant anymore. This is why the mining sector is a bit slow taking up technology.

IN:SIGHT: The mining industry has traditionally made a big contribution to the Australian economy. What skills and technology settings are necessary for the industry to succeed today?

Dr. Jeannette McGill: As mining transitions into a far more technology-intensive environment, it will upskill and deploy more upscale skillsets. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are critical foundations of mining.

The question often asked of mining is around people in remote locations around the world who are impacted by mining but who don’t necessarily have access to STEM equivalent courses and schools and education opportunities. How do they survive in the mining sector?

Mining has been a very difficult sector to employ people into, but I think we can make use of a far broader skills base – people who wouldn’t necessarily see how their skills can be applied in the mining sector – so there’s an opportunity for growth and change along those lines. It won’t stop being a technical area, the issue is being able to tap into growth skillsets.

For instance, mechatronics – he convergence of mechanical and electronic engineering – is a subject that was never offered at universities globally, and now it’s one of the biggest areas of employment. This is what’s exciting about the provision of STEM skills: driving change, driving research, driving new opportunities.

IN:SIGHT: Communications technologies have underpinned some key growth sectors of the past decade. How are they impacting the mining industry?

Dr. Jeannette McGill: Mines are very dynamic, so things keep moving. The biggest driver for mining at the moment is, in fact, safety. Every single mining company has a safety imperative in their values as well as in every one of their presentations. It’s called zero harm. A lot of this comes down to communication and enabling work teams to understand where they are, what is happening, and taking advantage of the visibility that good communications enable.

Mines will become more efficient and drive the sector forward, particularly in Australia, where mining is so much a part of the gross domestic product and the country’s fabric.

IN:SIGHT: What technologies will be the game changers for mining over the next 10 years?

Dr. Jeannette McGill: Critical game-changing technologies are going to emerge across the mining sector, creating both solutions and new pain points. Mining companies tend to be quite siloed, so there’s always been the mining department and the processing department and the supply-chain department. With the integrating capabilities that come from information technology, as well as the operating technologies, these two paths are converging. The companies that find success will be the ones that can use these pain points to their advantage.

The reality is that sometimes mines have adopted technology for technology’s sake, but I very much view technology as part of a triangle – a critical triangle where all three angles need to be considered together. Technology is one point of the triangle, another is people and the third is process. When you’re adopting and adapting technologies, it’s about understanding the impact they’re having on process.

“Critical game-changing technologies are going to emerge across the mining sector, creating both solutions and new pain points… The companies that find success will be the ones that can use these pain points to their advantage.”

-Dr. Jeannette McGill, Head of Telstra Mining Services, Non-Executive Director at the Council for Geoscience


Telstra’s powerful ICT resources can help mining companies navigate challenges, enhance productivity, automate processes, streamline operations and achieve greater visibility, control and collaboration.

4 min

Leading from the front: Why government must take the IT transformation lead



Leading from the front: Why government must take the IT transformation lead

As the demands of an interconnected, disrupted future increase, the onus is on governments to keep up with their constituents.

A political moderate recognised for keeping a level head as European nations faced a swathe of economic and political upheavals, former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt believes governments need to embrace openness in order to win back the trust of constituents.

“Throughout the world there is much criticism of political leadership for not being honest and open with their people,” Reinfeldt says. “Government authorities feel that distrust. The best way to restore trust is being more transparent, and technology provides that opportunity.”

Reinfeldt, who was PM from 2006 to 2014, notes that the digital revolution is delivering unparalleled access to information and services, yet a failure to embrace the opportunity for openness and transparency has resulted in unprecedented levels of mistrust.

“It’s for governments to decide ‘we want to be part of this increased openness’ and if that is the path they take, governments can play a leading role in making digitalisation happen in their communities.”

He warns that public administrators who fail to grasp people’s expectations that government services be as accessible as online banking or retail will only entrench that distrust, Reinfeldt warns.

“The challenge for public administration is to understand that in our day and age, information is global and it’s coming to everyone in a way which we have not seen before,” Reinfeldt says. “There is a call from the people for more open data from government.”

Three crucial components

San Francisco global innovation expert Chris Vein says the role of technology in government is both a leadership challenge and responsibility. As a former chief innovation officer at World Bank and former deputy chief technology officer for US Government Innovation, Vein has spent a significant part of his career observing and analysing an increasingly complex political environment.

“The range and complexity of products and services in government is unlike any sector in the world,” says Vein. “As expectations of government services grow – as the need to do it more cheaply, better and faster grows – it will create a whole different set of products and services that can be enabled by technology.”

The three essential components of achieving digital transformation within the public sector, according to Vein, are leadership, culture and implementation.

“The challenge for any leader is to create a vision and to persuade us to follow that vision,” Vein says. “To care enough to work toward that vision; to create a culture where everybody’s working together and co-creating solutions; and lastly to implement change in ways that take advantage of technology but are not driven by technology.”


“The range and complexity of products and services in government is unlike any sector in the world. As expectations of government services grow – as the need to do it more cheaply, better and faster grows – it will create a whole different set of products and services that can be enabled by technology.”

-Chris Vein, former chief innovation officer, World Bank


State government steps up

While the response is far from homogenous, there are indications that some governmental organisations recognise the impact technology is having and its close connection with service delivers.

Armed with a mandate for change and a budget for capital works of $41.5 billion over the next four years, Tim Reardon, secretary, Transport for NSW, has an intimate understanding of these challenges. When Reardon was appointed last year, Premier Mike Baird announced: “A priority of this government is to embrace innovation and new technology to drive excellence in customer service.”

Noting that NSW’s population is projected to grow from 7.5 million to 9.5 million over the next 15 years, Reardon says the “Holy Grail in transport” is a fully integrated system. Technology, he says, provides the opportunity to create “the next generation of transport”.

“We need to embrace disruption [such as ride-sharing services and driverless cars] which will continue to occur,” Reardon says. “You will never be able to predict them all. Our job is to provide safe, reliable services that give great customer satisfaction.”

Reardon says customers need “much more empowerment” about how they use transport services. Existing services such as the Opal public transport smartcard, digital driver’s licensing and information apps are “just the tip of the iceberg”, he says.

“We will never look the same again after the next few years,” Reardon says. “As we improve things, customers’ expectations will increase so we need to move with them. Every opportunity we get to improve our service delivery and connect communities we will take because their expectations heighten ours.

City council leads the way

In addition to this there are also interesting trends in this direction emerging from local governments around Australia.

The City of Joondalup in Perth has an economic development plan that positions the city as a “knowledge economy” in a bid to attract technology companies to “add to the social and economic vibrancy of the city”. The city has also developed a digital strategy that informs its own use of technology.

Jamie Parry, director, governance and strategy, says the City is keen to exploit the benefits of the internet of things.

“IOT is becoming more prevalent in our decision making in everything that we do – digital first is becoming more of a way of thinking for all of our decision making and IOT is an important part of that,” Parry says.

“We are renowned for our liveability and community wellbeing in Joondalup. If there are IOT applications that can help us improve that wellbeing within the community, then we certainly want to take advantage of them.”

Moreover, according to Oliver Blain, the head of NSW Government at Telstra, these sorts of projects are only set to increase as government around the country steps out of the technological shadow once cast by the corporate sector.

“Government, for a while there, lagged behind enterprise and missed some of the digital advances we saw in private enterprise,” Blain says. “They’ve realised they underinvested and they’re actually going beyond where enterprise is and really taking advantage of technology to change the way they provide services.”


In summary

  • Government were lagging behind the private sector in digital integration, but now they’re starting to overtake the private sector in key areas
  • In the era of Wikileaks, inadequate data transparency will only lead to public distrust
  • Governments must be agile not only to embrace disruptors, but to integrate their strategies into systems and law
  • While automation will lower labour costs in key sectors, governments need to become good at anticipating the need for more services in our connected future

Digital technology and cloud computing means government agencies have an unprecedented opportunity to create citizen-based online services. Learn more

2 min

Technology takes NSW transport to the next level



Technology takes NSW transport to the next level

The future of public transport innovation is integration says Tim Reardon, secretary, Transport for NSW.

Transport NSW provides services to 7.5 million people every day and, with the state’s population expected to expand by 2 million people over the next decade, the need for integration and better customer service has never been more apparent.

Transport NSW is designing a digital “roadmap” of how it will serve these people, with the aim of maximising the efficiency with which people can move about on their daily business. This goes for everything from motorways, digital licensing, electronic ticketing, trains, ferries and disruptors such as ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft.

“We are about personalising the transport experience,” says Tim Reardon, secretary,

Transport for NSW, who is steering a four-year, $41 billion transformation of the transportation industry.

“The Holy Grail is integration,” he adds. “To achieve that level of integration you need good governance, you need good co-ordination. Most people would see that as a challenge, but we see it as an opportunity.”

“The Holy Grail is integration – to achieve that level of integration you need good governance, you need good co-ordination. Most people would see that as a challenge, but we see it as an opportunity.”

-Tim Reardon, secretary, Transport for NSW


Expert Tips

We’re designing a digital roadmap to better connect communities and how we actually plan the next generation of the transport system, not just with a traditional transport modelling approach but with big data and data analytics.

The individual customer needs much more empowerment about how they use the transport service that we provide. We have a service delivery opportunity and the challenge of seven-and-a-half-million people, most of whom are a customer of ours almost every day.

We are personalising their transport experience. The bus is still the same, the train is still the same, we make it clean, safe, and reliable, but their ability to use it when they want, where they want and we’re linking that with new technologies in disruption with things like Rideshare.

This is about three Cs: one, customers and putting the customer at the centre of everything we do; two, it’s about having a conversation and we want to have the conversation about the merger of technology and transport in NSW; and three, and most importantly, it will be about the culture of the agency itself and how we go about our business.

The Holy Grail is integration – to achieve that level of integration you need good governance, you need good coordination and all those types of things. Whether that’s the Opal card, digital driver’s licensing, major customer information through apps and, you know, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

In NSW over the next 15 years we’ll have 2 million more people within the state. That is an opportunity – in areas we haven’t even thought of where we can either get better service delivery, more connected communities, or better customer satisfaction.

Most people see it as a challenge, we see it as an opportunity.

Looking for smart new ways to boost productivity in an era of unpredictable fuel costs, ever-stricter compliance requirements and the strong Australian dollar? Ask your AE how.


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2 min

Connected world: Five ways digital government is transforming public engagement



Connected world: Five ways digital government is transforming public engagement

From Singapore to Estonia, technology is spurring public good, smart service and social inclusion.

Governments around the globe are wrestling with how to transform the delivery of services to citizens in the digital age.

For the national general manager of government at Telstra, Dr Jack R Dan, the future of public service delivery is all about personalisation, underpinned by data-driven policy development. “Data enables the government to be a platform for everyone to build services in response to identified needs,” says Dr Dan.

Here are five places where the public sector is delivering smarter services, innovation and greater social inclusion:

Small e for Estonia

Estonia delivers world-class citizen engagement through its e-Estonia project, which has digitalised every facet of government service, from healthcare monitoring to business registration. Given Estonia has pioneered e-Residency and Data Embassies, it’s no wonder they are often regarded as the leaders in this space. “This is a country that is embracing digital innovation in a very substantial way, not only in response to public demand, but also in a visionary, future-driven way,” Dr Dan says.

“Data enables the government to become a platform for everyone to build services in response to identified needs.”

-Dr Jack R Dan, national general manager, government, Telstra

Bridge beyond the Hudson

Another digital frontrunner, New York City, offers the NYC DataBridge: a city-wide data-sharing platform that handles feeds from a host of agencies and external organisations. Readily available data and new cross-agency comparisons will spur a deeper performance-management culture, promoting improvement, according to Accenture’s Digital at Depth report.

Super-smart S’pore

Singapore aspires to become the world’s first smart-service nation, enabled by its ubiquitous platform that all public agencies can access, enabling extensive data sharing. Services such as Social Service Net offer tailoring of government services, and a digital vault of citizens’ personal data makes the interaction with services easier and much more effective.

A vote for digital

Technology is also transforming the democratic process, and social inclusion rates with it, as countries such as Brazil and Estonia embrace online voting systems. “Technology gives people a voice,” says Dr Dan. “It enables people to engage across a range of processes, from e-voting to more direct consultation and deliberation processes that would otherwise be very difficult to conduct.”

Clear Accountability

As part of its quest to make government more transparent to the people it serves, Belgium has launched MyFile, a secure portal that enables citizens to access their information and, importantly, to see who else accessed their information and for what purpose. This strategy allows the government to provide the right services for the public, while improving the trust and accountability for its actions.

According to Dr Dan, transparency initiatives such as this “provide the necessary assurances of the role and integrity and performance of public institutions, while the open data enables the government to become a platform for everyone to build services in response to identified needs”.


Ask your Account Executive how Telstra can help you transform into an effective digital government organisation.