Victoria earmarks AU$53m for digital service delivery and citizen engagement

The state Budget is also prioritising ambulance radio upgrades, acute healthcare through initiatives such as a digital patient records system, and a handful of tech-related projects in schools.

The Victorian government wants to encourage the innovative use of technology to improve service delivery and business processes, allocating AU$52.9 million in the 2019-20 financial year to "digital government and communications".

Some of the funding given to the Department of Premier and Cabinet is handed to Service Victoria for the development of its customer website to allow citizens to deal with government online.

SEE ALSO: Morrison launches Services Australia to make citizen service delivery 'easy'

A performance measure is the satisfaction of Service Victoria users, and the government is aiming for a 95% satisfaction rate in the 2019-20 financial year.

The state also upped its 2018-19 expected spend to AU$92.7 million, saying the figure is higher than the 2018-19 target primarily due to funding provided for Service Victoria for the next stage of the Customer Digital Services Platform, as well as an "output reclassification" due to the Whole of Victorian Government Application Program Interface being transferred from the "strategic advice and government support" output to the "digital government and communications" output.

The government also said it wants to have 310,000 visitors to vic.gov.au during 2019-20, expecting 350,000 to have clicked through to its site in the 2018-19 financial year. It's also using clicks as a performance measure where digital government is concerned.  

The funding allocated under digital government and communications will also be used, the Budget documents [PDF] say, to gain an understanding of, and respond to, citizen needs, with AU$1.8 million set aside for 2019-20 and another AU$1.8 million for 2020-21.

"Funding will be provided to increase the sources and improve the quality of Victorian government information through social media engagement and monitoring," the government wrote.

"The design of policy and services will also be enhanced through data analytics and user experience design. This will assist in understanding and responding to the needs of citizens through improved policy, programs, and services."

SEE ALSO: How Victoria Police handled the Bourke Street incident on social media (TechRepublic)

Where education is concerned, the state has allocated AU$4.1 million to maintain "frontline IT service delivery" for government schools, hoping to ensure onsite technical support and school digital connectivity is fast and reliable.

AU$6.2 million will be provided to continue to support for a suite of educational software for government secondary schools. Training will also be provided so teachers can maximise the educational opportunities the software is meant to provide.

Funding to the tune of AU$500,000 will be provided to support the operation of the Knox Innovation, Opportunity and Sustainability Centre (KIOSC) for the 2020 calendar year, which the government said ensures the continued delivery of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs for partner secondary schools.

With AU$5.6 million allocated in this coming financial year, the government will also commence planning and progressively establish the Child Link register, which it said will be a digital platform that  enables the "systematic sharing of certain factual information to improve child wellbeing and safety outcomes".

Additional funding is provided for the State Library Victoria redevelopment program, which includes expanding floor space, refurbishing Queen's Hall, a designated area for children's programming, and a media centre to "showcase new and emerging technologies".

Invest Victoria, tasked with strengthening the state's economic performance through facilitating private sector investment, also flagged it had seen 19 new Australian or international firms set up local headquarters and/or research development centres in the state, with the number upped from the expected nine due to a number of IT companies establishing their headquarters.

IT systems at the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel will also be upgraded to "establish more efficient processes and deliver accurate legal information and records to the public".

Elsewhere, acute health services will be receiving AU$13 million for a clinical technology refresh, including diagnostic imaging, patient management systems, and electronic medical records.

"This will improve operational stability of the delivery of information related to patient diagnostics and other clinical services to the point-of-care and enhance cybersecurity," the Budget papers state.

Meanwhile, Ambulance Victoria will upgrade and transition from an analogue radio communications system to an encrypted digital radio system across regional areas, with the government handing AU$70.6 million to the cause.

"This critical upgrade, coordinated by Emergency Management Victoria, will improve community safety and health outcomes by enabling Ambulance Victoria to communicate more securely and respond more effectively to incidents," the Budget papers say.

AU$121 million will be spent on cracking down on dangerous driving, including planning for new road safety technology. AU$2.5 million for Counter Terrorism and Protective Security training and infrastructure, including maintaining vital vehicle security barriers, CCTV, and the public address system in Melbourne's CBD has also been allocated.

"As we recruit and deploy an extra 3,135 new frontline police, the Victorian Budget 2019/20 further invests in the technology and training needed to tackle crime," the papers say.

After spending AU$15.4 million in 2018-19, an additional AU$54.9 million has this year been earmarked for digital train radio system upgrades that will see ageing equipment replaced to maintain the availability of the digital train radio system, flagged by the state as critical to the operation of the metropolitan train network. AU$12.7 million has been allocated in 2020-21.

"The proposal from Nokia and Vodafone involves the upgrade of telecommunications on Melbourne's train system by installing a new Long-Term Evolution 4G network," the government explained. "It also provides an option for the state to transition to an updated communications system for a variety of potential applications. The proposal could improve public transport services and provide better information for passengers."

The proposal is currently being assessed in stage four.

MORE FROM VICTORIA