​Queensland unveils new digital strategy centred on people

The state's 2017-2020 digital strategy includes updating government service delivery, leading the way with tech-based initiatives, and placing the citizen at the centre of everything it does.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Queensland government has lifted the lid on its new digital strategy, and just like any digital initiative in 2017, it's centred on people.

"We have a strong vision of how we want to improve the lives of Queenslanders, and a path to make that happen," Minister for Innovation, Science, and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch wrote in the strategy's foreword. "We are putting people at the heart of our digital services, because we believe that is how we create the biggest benefits for our citizens, our state, and our economy."

In Digitalist: Advancing our digital future - the Queensland government digital strategy for 2017-2021, the state government says focusing on the potential of digital services and thinking primarily about customer service channels, technology, standard operating environments, software as a service, and cloud computing is not enough.

Instead, Annastacia Palaszczuk's government says it is going to be the exemplar, echoing a similar initiative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced when he launched Australia's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda in December 2015.

"We believe that not only should government be keeping up; it should be leading the way," the strategy [PDF] says. "We truly believe Queensland can and should be a leader in digital government. Digitalist is our next step on this journey."

For citizens, the state has plans to deliver digital services; for businesses, starting up a venture will be "easier" with initiatives such as the "starting a café" pilot, under which the government has brought all of the licences and permits required together for easy access.

With people at the centre of the digital strategy, the three other areas of focus for the state government are collaboration, connectivity, and trust.

Collaboration will see the government work with community, industry, small businesses and startups, and research organisations, as well as within and between its own departments and agencies to "rethink everything".

Under the banner of connectivity, the state government wants to provide access to citizens living outside of metro areas by building better connections and digital infrastructure.

To gain trust, the Queensland government wants to put the right safeguards in place to secure the privacy and security of citizen information.

The digital strategy has been published with eight key principles, with the first mandating that the government embarks on initiatives to "solve the right problem".

"We need to actively find, frame, and solve the right problems -- the ones that really matter to Queensland citizens and businesses," the strategy explains.

The next two are to be digital by default and to create unified digital experiences for citizens. The government wants to avoid developing isolated, stand-alone digital solutions, the strategy explains.

Opening up government data, including security provisions from day one, and experimenting are also highlighted as key to delivering on the state's digital strategy.

With Palaszczuk's vision to bring access to all citizens, the "leave no one behind" principle will require digital government initiatives to consider accessibility, capability building, and digital inclusion.

"At the very least, that means accessible alternatives. Ideally, with the support of all tiers of government, it means connectivity and infrastructure that allows all Queenslanders, no matter who or where they are, to participate in our digitally enabled culture, society, and economy," the strategy explains.

As part of the strategy, the state government is planning to develop a Business Queensland roadmap that will focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and the ability for such tech to improve the interaction between government and business.

Building on the existing Q-Parents online portal -- which provides parents of Queensland state school students with 24-hour access to their child's information, such as attendance records, report cards, and timetables -- the government will be launching Kicbox, which is an app co-designed with young people in out-of-home care that holds their information in one place.

"My Account" will also soon be released, which has been touted by the government as a secure, personalised dashboard that offers reminders, alerts, relevant information, and services, as well as government interaction progress tracking.

Digital hospital initiatives, small business grants, and STEM initiatives that build on the state's AU$240 million Advance Queensland program are also flagged for the 2017-20 strategy.

When it comes to upgrading state government-owned IT, the strategy explains it will be exploring machine learning to seek insights from field science data collections, using algorithmic models to analyse data.

It will be initiating proof-of-concept cases for intelligent automation across corporate services, increasing its adoption of cloud-based services, and developing a view of the "digital worker" by leveraging the Microsoft collaboration platform.

The strategy says it will also be embracing the digital age by moving to a mobile-first strategy for public service officers.

Transport and Main Roads Service Centres and the Department of Education will be trialling the use of humanoid robots, building on the two-year, AU$1.5 million research and development grant given to the Queensland University of Technology to study social robotics through the use of SoftBank Robotics' Pepper.

The state government also plans to boost broadband connectivity to Queensland schools and invest further in the mobile blackspot program.

The strategy states that the government will soon develop a Digital Infrastructure Plan, place sensors in high-traffic areas, and invest in cybersecurity initiatives in partnership with the federal government's Joint Cyber Security Centre program.

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