Why streamlining data management is essential for innovation in government services

Australia’s Data Driven Governments

Why streamlining data management is essential for innovation in government services

Michael Steer, Federal & NSW State Government District Manager, NetApp Australia

Government in Australia must do more than just defend, educate, and care for our nation. The best kinds of democratic leadership inspire a nation with a vision that is built on a foundation of trust. A trust earned from effective governance, delivery of public services and prudent custodianship of public resources.

Of course, there is always inevitable political tension as governments try to bring about much needed change. This step forward must be balanced with careful management and preservation of individual rights. This has led the government and their agencies to look at the potential of digital technology to help them improve governance, liberty and the delivery of services.

Data is at the core of the digital transformation of government, however data by itself has no value unless it can be accessed. To truly be an asset to governments, data must be turned into actionable information that results in improved decision making or more directly into improved stakeholder outcomes. The newly formed Digital Transformation Office is just one example of where the Australian government has recognised the need to improve the delivery of services via digital solutions. . When data is transformed into useful, meaningful information, it becomes one of the most important public assets, and governments must play a key role to ensure that data can be easily accessed, efficiently stored, and securely protected.

Governments at all levels, Federal, State and Local, have the responsibility to ensure the privacy of personal, commercial and government data. That responsibility starts from the time they capture it, through its retention, and in the process of delivering services. Not only for Australian’s but also for the people from all over the world. Government must not only meet the privacy, governance and compliance requirements we expect of ourselves, but we must also recognise that to thrive within a global economy, we must be seen as a trusted custodian by respecting the security and retention expectations of our allies as well as those of our expanding global partnerships.

These increasing data management requirements present a number of challenges that become even more difficult as the amount of data from multiple sources also increases. To solve the challenges and build on the promise of a digitally enabled economy, previously inconceivable amounts of data must be stored. New kinds of data such as traveller’s commuting patterns as they use publicly provided transportation; digitised patient records that must be securely stored and shared across the country; through to the high resolution images captured by military surveillance and body worn cameras used in every day policing must all be retained, protected sometimes for years.

This rich historical data provides the foundation for useful information that is foundational to making our cities more liveable. Not only this, but it is also helping Australia meeting its emissions targets through efficient mass transit, improve public health via timely clinical services, and increase peace of mind from improved military threat assessment as well as more proactive and responsive public safety services.

Some of the data held might seem of little value today, however it can become more valuable through the use of data analytics tools that finds relationships between otherwise obscure elements of the data. Services like NSW’s Data Analytics Centre uncover these unexpected value networks and assist governments to extract value from the data to deliver better services.

Government departments have significant responsibilities to meet privacy, sovereignty, governance and compliance obligations around what may appear to be irrelevant datasets today. To justify this retain all data behaviour, Governments must find the most cost effective ways of storing and managing data, with many turning to the cloud to help overcome the many challenges they face.

The New South Wales government is leading the way in Australia with its digital government strategies and its commitment to cloud technology, embracing a cloud-first strategy and insists that the cloud be utilised where possible. This approach has led NSW to the forefront of technological advancement in Australia, and has already opened up a number of new opportunities.

Last year The Government of New South Wales announced plans to establish Australia’s first data analytics centre. The new initiative will leverage statistics as data and process it to help guide the New South Wales Government in their law and policy duties. Long-term challenges such as obesity, childhood health, public transport and housing all require data driven solutions. The data and information will likely necessitate a whole-of-government data sharing platform. This large set of data will require a holistic approach to data management.

NetApp’s Data Fabric vision provides a future for data management that enables the free flow of data to where it is most needed, when it is needed, securely and to store it where it is most cost effective. Because of this, NetApp help IT departments provide improved services to their own customers/stakeholders who are responsible for delivering the projects and programs of government.

NetApp can enable IT departments to:

  • Have increased choice from where they source their ICT services enabling departments to move to the public hyperscale cloud providers as well as dozens of private cloud providers that meet privacy and data sovereignty requirements of government. The rapid expansion of IaaS, PaaS providers is providing government with flexibility, agility and potentially cost effeciencies. With NetApp’s data fabric strategy and professional services expertise, we can assist in a cloud readiness assessment to determine which workloads are the most appropriate to be moved to the cloud such as Backup, Archive and Dev/test;
  • Improve the cost effectiveness of their on-premise infrastructure and service delivery through NetApp’s industry leading Flash technology that accelerates application performance and reduces datacentre footprint and costs with guaranteed efficiencies;
  • Integrate with the primary enterprise applications as well as fast growing data analytics engines available and BU software in the market today.

To hear more about how NetApp’s data fabric is helping government departments innovate, watch this space for my next blog.