The Australian e-Government moving into a digital age

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Disruption is the hot word of the decade. Evolving technology is shaking up Australia’s oldest industries, leaving revenue streams volatile and reallocating market share from longterm players. 

Revolutionary ride-sharing service Uber landed in Australia in October 2012. It took less than five years for the tech start-up to completely usurp the taxi industry, with Cabcharge trading at an all-time low this year. 

Looking to the future, the digital economy is no longer a separate entity from mainstream economies. It’s becoming increasingly evident that a ‘digitise or die’ approach must be taken in developing future strategies. 

But technological disruption is not limited to the private sector. The Australian Government recently shared its commitment to digitally transforming the effectiveness of public services with its upcoming Digital Economy Strategy.

Smartphones have completely changed the way we do business.

Smartphones have completely changed the way we do business.

Digital workflows are set to become far more widely-used by government employees. Cloud computing systems combined with the increasing cost-effectiveness of smart devices has created a system where data and documents can be accessed anywhere at any time. 

The benefits of digitalised systems for government are multi-tiered. Better systems within government means better efficiencies. Better efficiencies means a better service to citizens and businesses. Better service to citizens and businesses means a society positioned to prosper well into the digital age. 

The digital-first approach is being increasingly adopted by governments around the world. Dubai recently announced their ambitious target to go paper-free by 2020, saving the Dubai government an estimated 25 million work hours annually and cutting almost 100 million paper transactions.

More locally, Singapore, one of the world’s most innovative societies, issues all citizens with a National Registration Identity Card which links to an ID known as SingPass. This streamlined electronic system has consolidated access to over 60 government agencies into a single portal for citizens – with one password. 

Similarly, New Zealand’s RealMe, a joint initiative from the government and postal service, is an account consolidating access to a range of private and public services, including banking, superannuation, passport renewal, career services, electoral roll details and study assistance. New Zealanders have embraced the electronic system with gusto –  in the first two years, 40.3 percent of all passport renewals were completed online. 

These days, most people pay bills, lodge forms, apply for loans and more using the internet.

These days, most people pay bills, lodge forms, apply for loans and more using the internet.

It’s a ground-swell demand shared across the Tasman. Australians already use computer and smart devices to access services including claiming medical benefits, lodging tax returns and registering businesses. Further recent research suggesting 55 percent of respondents prefer to transact digitally rather via paper means, widely attributed to the convenience, speed and added security of the online world. 

A demand for better government efficiencies has been a major issue arising following the recent postal survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Many Australians were dismayed at the $122 million cost associated with the execution of the survey, which utilised paper votes as opposed to electronic votes. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke declared it the worst economic decision by any prime minister since federation.

Electronic voting technology is already utilised in Australia, though currently in limited capacity. Known as iVote, the electronic system was introduced for the NSW general election in 2011 for disabled or remotely-located voters. Internationally, Belgium, Brazil and Estonia currently vote in general elections using an electronic system and many Australians questioned why a similar digitalised voting technology wasn’t utilised in the postal survey.  

Revolutionising dated technology leads to better efficiencies which inturn leads to better results.

Revolutionising dated technology leads to better efficiencies which inturn leads to better results.

As Australians’ comfort with and access to technology grows, paperless on-demand services will not only be expected from their governments, they will be a necessity within government agencies. Revolutionising dated systems within government sectors creates better efficiencies within teams, which means a superior service to the citizens and businesses they serve. 

Local and federal government know more efficient services creates a more prosperous Australian society that is better positioned to adapt to our increasingly digitised world. As then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull described at the Digital Innovation Forum in 2015, Australians should be able to interact with the Australian government “seamlessly, compellingly and enjoyably”, creating a nation uninhibited by the paper-trail. 

This article was sponsored by DocuSign.