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NSW government to factor in inclusivity as Service NSW ponders metaverse twin

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said considering how to make government services inclusive is 'absolutely non-negotiable'.
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Image: Victor Dominello

NSW government Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello has acknowledged the importance of inclusion as the state government continues to make more services available online. He also admitted that it is something the state government has not always factored in.

"That inclusion piece is something, I'll be honest, I really did not keep my eye on over the last two or three years, and I realised that in the middle of the pandemic where my mum, for example … she's got a son who's minister for digital, but has got no idea when it comes to digital … so her journey has to be part of our collective journey," he told audience at the Future.NSW event on Monday.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSW government introduced a QR code check-in system. Nearly a year after, it introduced COVID-19 QR code check-in cards, claiming it as an alternative check-in method for customers who did not have a smartphone or are uncomfortable using the Service NSW online form.

Read: How Australia's tech-savvy COVID-19 response is leaving CALD communities behind

Now, the inclusion piece, which Dominello said is "absolutely non-negotiable", is being considered as the state government builds out its digital seniors card on the Service NSW app. Seniors can opt in to get a digital card through the app, but also still have the choice to continue to use their existing physical card.

"There's 1.8 million seniors, why should they be left off? They should be right up front and centre … we've already started that journey, seniors can download the seniors card, but we really want to make that a golden experience for them," he said, noting a more user-friendly version would be available from middle to later in the year.

Other key projects in the pipeline for the state government include digitising the Child's Personal Health Record, or the Blue Book, and making it accessible via the NSW Health app.

According to the state government, the digital book would not only alert parents of their child's immunisations and medical checks, but also provide bespoke nutrition advice, hygiene and safety information, and access to emergency and postnatal support services.

Dominello also envisions when children are of school age, parents will be alerted via a digital assistant to enrol their child for school via the Service NSW app where all necessary details would auto-populate, and that meetings with teachers and classroom tours can happen virtually.

"How do we improve these services, which are already in production, to take into account the metaverse? What does Service NSW look like in the metaverse? How do we prepare for that today, so it's ready tomorrow," Dominello said.

See: NSW Health confirms data breached due to Accellion vulnerability

Dominello added the government is in the middle of building a capability that would allow citizens to digitise and verify education certificates, such as first-aid and high school certificates. It's scheduled to go-live by the end of the year, before there are plans to build out the ecosystem.

"Then when we get to that point, that will be the first time ever that we have a direct pipeline between supply and demand," Dominello said.

Additionally, the state government wants to make it easier for people with mobility issues to find parking.

"If you have a disability or mobility issues, are you really going to go around and around and around looking for that elusive car spot like George Costanza thinking you can get lucky all the time, or can you get all the power on your phone, so you can see in real-time where there's a disability spot. That will take so much time and pain out of out of the journey for those who are already going through enough challenges," Dominello said.

Further details on this parking service will be announced in the coming weeks, Dominello said. 

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