NSW GovDC eyes process automation in inter-government service delivery

GovDC's director has said there is an opportunity for the NSW government to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to maximise its data processing and analysing capabilities for inter-agency service delivery.

The New South Wales government is looking into process automation for reducing response times in its datacentres, with director for GovDC Derek Paterson highlighting artificial intelligence (AI) as a way of delivering better services to its customers.

Speaking at the opening of enterprise cloud company ServiceNow's new Australian headquarters in Sydney last week, Paterson said he is looking for opportunities to automate processes that tend to take too long by removing the human element.

"How do I remove the human intervention there? There could have been something manual in regards to paper management, let's make that electronic, let's pack that into a form, let's just hook into another API," he explained.

"There is so much duplication when you do talk about organisations that have a long tenure. This gives you an opportunity to look at your end-to-end processes, inventories, and catalogues for example -- it gives you the opportunity to say, 'Well that's redundant, we don't need that anymore -- that's where the data comes from and that's where the opportunities come from," he added.

GovDC uses a ServiceNow-powered portal and service catalogue, hoping to boost public sector performance and efficiency. According to Paterson, such improvements come primarily through having less human intervention and more automation.

"Consider where the world is going to and the amount of data captured that can be processed and analysed using anything from AI to machine learning. Then imagine what you can do with that data," he said.

"To be able to pick trends around who is doing what and when they're doing it -- can we do it quicker? Can it make itself do it quicker? That's the world I want to be in."

Paterson also said exposing APIs between different technology vendors and products allows for that unification of end-to-end system implementations,

"Getting a tool like this that we've been using, gives us the opportunity to have a cohesive approach as a number of government departments that we work with are using something that an API can get hooked into," he added.

"It's not just on the platform point of view, it's actually on some of the technologies as well, so if you go into the public cloud there's an API for orchestration, if we want to move into a vendor world there's another API for that."

GovDC was officially launched in October 2013 to enable the consolidation of 130 government datacentres into two, with all state government agencies required to move into or migrate its IT into GovDC by August 2017.

The GovDC Marketplace launched in parallel to provide NSW agencies with a one-stop-shop for finding telecommunications, cloud, infrastructure, managed services, and software providers.

It was touted as a way of having IT services "readily available, on-tap, and as-a-service", rather than the traditional approach of buying hardware and software. The government also saw it as a way to give access to services some agencies previously could not afford.

The state government said previously the motivation behind shifting to the GovDC model was that at previous sites, back-up and disaster recovery systems were sometimes non-existent.

"Demand was growing at an unprecedented rate, chief information officers were entering contracts which included unused capacity to ensure continuity of expansion, contractual conditions were problematic, and risk allocation unfair, which resulted in hidden costs and risks to the state," the government said.

"No existing facility could meet projected government demand over the 15 years."

The state government said it experienced an overriding benefit by entering into a whole-of-government arrangement to minimise total costs, make contractual terms and costs more transparent, and guarantee reliability and service standards.

"Our priority is driving digital innovation to improve access to services for the citizens of NSW," Paterson said previously.

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