Vision for
our Digital Foundations

Our vision is to have a broad foundation of digital computing capability and practice that allows the ACT to add value in an agile and effective way. To have platforms and services that are cost-effective and enabling. Our data is productive. Our focus is creating value and delivering service.

We often take foundations for granted. We almost casually depend on them to support our weight as we build new and brighter structures upon them.

There are many cultural parables on the need to choose and nurture our foundations. And so it is for Digital. We cannot execute our vision for customer service and economic growth without a foundational platform that lifts the focus of our activities above the day-to-day operations and allows us to add value higher up the technology chain in the domain of the customer interaction.

Digital foundations are diverse. From utility computing platforms to data security practice, solid foundations allow us to focus our vision above the mundane and operational to the strategic and value creating.

Principle: Cloud is our Service Platform

As our first preference, we will buy software, services and infrastructure from the Cloud. We will migrate our current assets and services into the Cloud at the highest practical value point to optimise services and gain financial benefits.

Technology services continue to be commoditised. Services that were once unique, high value and innovative have become ubiquitous, inexpensive and ordinary. Cloud is a fine example of where massive scale and resource sharing has driven a radical price point shift. That point is an order of magnitude lower than that which could be achieved through on-premise infrastructure within the ACT. In addition, the leverage of scarce skills in security and service management means that Cloud is no longer “the risky option”. The leading providers now offer capabilities that are more favourable from a security perspective than on-premise within the Territory.

Further to this, we can obtain greater cost efficiencies and agility by purchasing as high as possible in the technology value chain.

Utilising services high up the technology stack enables us to leverage the scale of cloud providers and offset the scale limitations we incur from having a smaller population base.

For the services we provide, and for the data over which we have stewardship, there is no intrinsic barrier to the use of cloud. There is simply the question of design for security and procurement for outcomes and performance.

As Vivek Kundra, the former Federal CIO for the United States Government noted back in 2010—“There was a time when every household, town, farm or village had its own water well.  Today, shared public utilities give us access to clean water by simply turning on the tap; cloud computing works in a similar fashion. Just like water from the tap in your kitchen, cloud computing services can be turned on or off quickly as needed. Like at the water company, there is a team of dedicated professionals making sure the service provided is safe, secure and available on a 24/7 basis. When the tap isn’t on, not only are you saving water, but you aren’t paying for resources you don’t currently need.”

We will therefore seek to adopt:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) rather than developing bespoke applications;
  • Office Productivity as a Service (OPaaS) rather than individual Office packages;
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) rather than creating technology platforms from individual components; and
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) rather than procuring and maintaining our own servers and storage.

We will build on these global Cloud service platforms—adding value and functionality to them in partnership with our local providers.

Principle: Common Capabilities—Common Standards

We will create a set of “Common Capabilities”—technology and service capabilities that reflect the aggregated needs of directorates. We will support these capabilities with a commitment to common and recognised standards.

The economics and benefits of scale and standardisation are simple. By adopting a common technology platform across government we procure it just once, we use more of it and improve unit pricing, we become expert with it and we can create value on it—value that is accessible to all.

We will therefore create a set of “Common Capabilities” which we will leverage across all directorates. We will undertake all practicable steps to align new business initiatives to build on the Common Capabilities and diverge only when convergence and compromise cannot be achieved.

The Common Capabilities will include products, services and solutions provided internally or by the business community.

The library of Common Capabilities will mature and build over time and will include:

  • Telecommunications and Networking
  • Web site and Content Management Services (CMS)
  • Cloud Services including Disaster Recovery platforms
  • Specialist Services (eg User Interface design to security analysts)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms
  • Rostering Solutions
  • Digital Archiving
  • Enterprise Resource and Planning (ERP) Platforms

New Common Capabilities will be introduced through a lead directorate. Rather than adopting an insular approach to business initiatives, we will develop a whole of government capability which will be a foundation for use in other directorates. Whilst this places a burden on the original directorate it also enables them to tap into all directorates and bring a broader experience and skill set—reducing risk and setting the scene for a successful capability build.

All directorates will consider Common Capabilities as their first option—focussing on what makes us the same—rather than what makes us different.

Similarly, existing solutions will migrate to the Common Capabilities at the first appropriate lifecycle point. The best economic outcome is not obtained by forcing artificial transitions to Common Capabilities—but by using lifecycle events where investment is required to maintain the integrity of our services.

Common Capabilities also refers to skill sets and standards. The library of Common Capabilities will include technology standards around which we will reinforce capability. A simple example might be the acquisition and use of HTML5 web coding skills.

As our library of Common Capabilities expands, we will be able to focus more energy on building and innovating new strengths that lift our Digital service capability.

Principle: The Dataculturists

We will harvest, curate and utilise data from all available sources to create value for the government and the community.

We recognise that data is the lifeblood of Digital service. It supports us in three ways:

  • Data enables a single view of Customer across our services;
  • It provides the information required for Operational Reporting so we can measure our historical performance; and
  • It provides the elements of knowledge on which Business Intelligence can be built to inform our future.

The use of data will always be managed in the context of privacy requirements and will reflect a joined-up service approach for citizens, community groups  and businesses.

We will:

  • create data platforms and services as Common Capabilities;
  • provide managed access to our data to ensure private information is either used for the purpose it was collected, used within a statutory framework, or anonymised;
  • unlock data from core applications;
  • commit to providing Open Data back to the community;
  • increasingly seek to provide not just data, but data API’s to enable others to leverage our data higher in the information value chain;
  • improve data quality (including data definitions and standards)—prioritising data that is life and mission critical, and acknowledging the shortcomings of un-remediated datasets;
  • expose personal information to individuals during transactions to enable them to correct errors;
  • re-use data to minimise the amount of collection; and
  • mandate (through contract) our access to data generated by Software as a Service applications.

Citizens, businesses and community groups will increasingly find new and innovative uses for government-provided data.  New applications, new community services and new businesses will evolve building on our open data to power innovation ideas that are home grown in business and community organisations.  It is no longer solely the government’s charter to provide services to the public.  Open data empowers everyone.

Data is as critical as it is complex. Achieving absolute data quality or perfect understanding of the data relationships is not possible. We therefore recognise that data stewardship is a question of balance. Data in itself is not the end game and so we do not aspire to perfection—we instead seek maturity.

Principle: The Geospatial Dimension

The geospatial components of all transactions will be included in the growing body of government and open data that defines the physical world in which our citizens live, work and interact.

Whilst the basic dimensions with which we describe our universe have not changed, the digital age has allowed us to pack a lot more into them. We see our world in much greater detail than ever before because we can store, retrieve, process and create value from a myriad of geospatial facts and perspectives.

We can map with satellite imagery and fly-by with drones. We can overlay our world-view with abstract concepts and invisible infrastructure. For Emergency Services it is a matter of life and death.

To be a smart city we must also be a spatially aware city.

We already have a strong and growing capability in some directorates and it is timely to bring a broader whole of government awareness and cohesion for geospatial information. It is particularly important to build new capability with geospatial considerations in mind.

We will:

  • include geospatial platforms and services to be one of our common capabilities;
  • use geospatial content to underpin appropriate transactions and data acquisitions;
  • seek all opportunities to use this information to provide value for the government, community groups, businesses and citizens;
  • use the wealth of geospatial information collected by our citizens to enhance our knowledge of the territory and region;
  • provide central overarching governance for geospatial data and practice;
  • provide open geospatial data back to the community as open data; and
  • collaborate with geospatial centres of excellence across Australia to support a whole of nation resource.

Geospatial is no longer a specialist niche discipline. From simple ‘Fix my Street’ apps to complex national mapping—it is now mainstream. It is an essential prime element of the digital world and it will be given prominence in our digital planning and implementation.

Principle: Responsive Procurement

To reflect the needs of the Digital Age, our ICT procurement will be responsive and agile. It will be fair, accessible, transparent and deliver value for money.

The digital world embraces speed and experimentation. Just as these characteristics make us adopt new approaches to technology, so too we must take new approaches to procurement.

The fundamental principles of government procurement will be respected. We will be transparent, fair and ethical. We will encourage competition and seek the best value for money on behalf of our citizens. We will be inclusive and accessible for ACT businesses.

And we will also recognise that Digital projects require accelerated timeframes, agile processes and, at times, rapidly evolving requirements.

We will:

  • engage early with providers to prototype and explore;
  • procure with non-traditional constraints—eg fixed price and variable requirements;
  • purchase as high up the value chain as is practicable—eg SaaS rather than just software on our hardware;
  • favour solutions based on open standards and extensibility or technology that has become a de facto standard for government;
  • take advantage of the physical proximity of local technology businesses to support agile and collaborative innovation and development;
  • create panel partnerships for important common capabilities to reduce the overheads of procurement for both government and vendors alike; and
  • leverage Commonwealth arrangements where it is practical to do so

Whilst a commercial contract may be the outcome of a procurement process, it is necessary to continue to manage these contracts throughout their lifecycle as if they were an asset—which in many ways, they are.

As we move further up the value chain we become a broker and integrator of services. We must become agile and expert in these roles to support the digital agenda.

Principle: Security and Assurance

We will protect our citizens. We will protect our government. We will be vigilant.

Appropriate security practice is a non-negotiable component of all the work we undertake. The speed and agility of Digital could be confused with a propensity to be less vigilant. In fact the reverse is true. With Digital comes straight through processing, a wealth of data and global connectivity. Security and assurance could not be more important.

The large Cloud providers are the leaders in security practice. They have the largest and best equipped teams to protect infrastructure and applications from security exploits. It is in our interests to leverage this capability. It is one of the drivers for moving our technology procurement as high as possible in the value chain.

Cloud is just one component in our defence. Effective security starts with good design as even the best cloud capability will not mitigate the weaknesses of a poor security architecture.

We must also acknowledge that many privacy and security events are a result of human behaviour—not technical failure.

We will:

  • develop a culture of security awareness and good practice;
  • keep our customers safe online;
  • undertake regular assurance across all ICT activities;
  • design for privacy and security;
  • use cloud as a powerful weapon;
  • use cloud as an effective platform for Disaster Recovery (DR) capability;
  • adopt open standards—they have the highest security resilience; and
  • be open about our failures—our customers have a right to know and it makes us stronger.

Cyber-attacks are an ever present threat to our privacy, security and economic well being. We should remain vigilant and concerned. We will not win every battle—but we must continue to win the war.