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EXCLUSIVE - Victoria Recognition of Excellence Awards 2018

This year, OpenGov recognised 8 Victorian Government agencies and education institutes for using technology to improve citizen engagement and public service delivery. 

Recipients of this year’s Recognition of Excellence awards were:

(1)  All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence

‍Mr Richard Bolt, Secretary, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

OpenGov recognised the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI), co-convened by Minister for Innovation Philip Dalidakis and Shadow Minister David Southwick, for preparing Victoria to benefit from this emerging technology.

Victorian Parliamentarians are now taking the lead through the establishment of a Victorian All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI to learn more about AI, its impact and the implications for rhe economy and community.

Bringing together parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI will be a focal point in the Victorian Parliament for discussion of the critical and transformative nature of AI.

(2) Box Hill Institute

‍Ms Jane Trewin, Executive Director, Educational Delivery

OpenGov recognised the Box Hill Institute for its leadership role in developing a single national approach for tackling cybersecurity skills gap in Australia. 

In December 2017, CEOs and senior delegates from TasTAFE, TAFE Queensland, TAFE NSW, Canberra Institute of Technology and other organisations around Australia have signed a National TAFE agreement to work together on a single national approach for addressing the issue. The program will deliver common qualifications across the country based on courses developed at Box Hill Institute in Victoria.

The Box Hill Institute has developed a Certificate IV and an Advanced Diploma in Cyber Security to address Australia’s critical cybersecurity skills gap, with funding support from the Victorian Government. The Victorian Government invested AU$4.7 million from the AU$50 million TAFE Back to Work Fund to support Box Hill to develop its cybersecurity qualifications.  

This solution has been developed in close partnership with industry. Commencing in Term 1, 2018, the Cyber Security National Program will partner with industry nation-wide to provide on-the-job experience for students and address the national skills shortage in cyber security. The program will give students access to accredited training provided by qualified teachers and trainers, so they can get a job and help protect Australians online.

(3) Deakin University

‍Prof William Confalonieri, Chief Digital Officer

OpenGov recognised Deakin University for the Deakin Genie digital personal assistant tool for students.

New students at the campus typically have a multitude of questions and a lot of time goes into replying to these inquiries that could involve anything about the general student life at the campus. As these queries often centre around similar issues, a self-learning chatbot frees up valuable teacher time and to deliver satisfactory responses.

Deakin Genie uses a familiar chat interface and voice recognition coupled with machine learning, which enables it to continually get smarter and more intuitive as more students access the software and build on their conversations. The 50,000 students at the school have 24/7 access to the system.

Deaking Genie is helping thousands of students every week, giving answers to various queries and guiding students through a wide array of processes, in the classroom, as well as with more administrative aspects of campus life. For example, it can help students pay for parking at the campus, how to submit assignments, where to enrol and how to navigate to the next class.

Along with the written explanation, many queries are handled using rich media, such as maps, graphs, tables and images to help clarify matters for inquisitive students.

(4) Department of Health and Human Services

OpenGov recognised the Department of Health and Human Services for developing the Client Incident Management System (CIMS).

The CIMS was implemented for the Community Services sector in January 2018. The project was a joint partnership with the Community Services Program and Design Division, in support of a new client incident management policy.

The solution was developed in-house as a Platform+Agile project, based on the DHHS Azure Framework. The solution extended the framework which was initially used for the Victorian Housing Register Application (VHRA) and included functionality for incident reporting, reviews, investigations and detailed analytics and reporting via a web-based portal Client Incident Register (CIR), as well as development of an Application Programming Interface (API) for integration with external provider systems.

Since the solution went live on 15 January, 393 Community Service Organisations (CSO) encompassing over 2,500 users have registered to use the Client Incident Register, with a further 35 CSOs registered to use the CIMS API. Approximately 400 major impact and over 1,700 non-major impact incidents have been logged with the department for review.

A key success factor for buy-in of the solution with the sector has been the use of an external-facing end user group during development, and joint business/technology meetings with external stakeholders prior to go-live. Having a committed Product Owner working closely with the BTIM technology team and acting as a conduit between the business and technology staff was also critical for the success of the project.

The DHHS Azure Framework is now being used and extended to 9 other projects, including the Victorian Health Incident Management System (VHIMS) project. The framework is being extended to include re-usable microservices to complete common processes such as email and notifications.

(5) Department of Premier and Cabinet

‍Ms Jo de Morton, Interim CEO - Service Victoria

OpenGov recognised the Department of Premier and Cabinet for pushing forward the Service Victoria Bill 2017. The Bill will bring Victoria closer to creating new whole-of-government agency for centralised access to Government services.

Victorians complete around 55 million transactions with the State Government every year, accessing government services and information can be excessively difficult and costly as there are hundreds of phone hotlines and websites.

The Service Victoria Bill 2017 aims to break down departmental silos and create a new whole-of-government agency, Service Victoria, that will act as a central access point for members of the community accessing Government services.

The Bill provides minimum standards around the handling and sharing of information, ensuring community members have the choice and control, over how their personal information is obtained and used.

The Bill will allow the new agency to be able to process and handle high volume Government transactions such as car registration, birth certificates, fishing licences and many others as Service Victoria grows.

(6) RMIT University

OpenGov recognise the RMIT University for the establishment of the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, the world’s first research centre on the social science of blockchain.

The RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub is the only full-service, research, teaching and industry-linked blockchain body in the world.

Led by Professor Jason Potts in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT University, the Hub will develop a world-leading interdisciplinary research team focused on the economic, cultural and social implications and impacts of blockchain technologies; partner with industry to share research; develop and implement policy and industry-relevant measures of the size and impact of the blockchain economy; and engage with government, policymakers, stakeholders and the public debate on the social and policy impact of blockchain technology.

The Hub will nurture students who will graduate work-ready with skills in blockchain technologies and bring together policymakers in government and industry practitioners looking for guidance about how best to meet blockchain opportunities.

At the same time, in response to the growing importance of blockchain as an emerging industry and in collaboration with industry, RMIT has also launched Australia’s first university short course on blockchain strategy. Through the eight-week course, students will have the opportunity to develop in-demand experience, including strategic understanding of blockchain and how to apply it to their industry and business.

(7) Transport Accident Commission

‍Mr Bernie Kruger, Business Intelligence and Data Science Lead

OpenGov recognised the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) Victoria for its data-driven citizen-centric approach.

Data insights are a critical enabler of the TAC 2020 strategy and beyond. Many data management activities are being automated, enabling greater focus on high value analytics, leading to better reporting and better insights.

Everyone is taken along on the data journey, not just the executives or IT. A Data, Reporting & Analytics competency centre has been set up to bring together analytics pockets dispersed throughout the organisation.

The Agency understood that solutions have to be designed together with business. A working group was created with representatives from various business divisions as well as IT and business intelligence.  A review was conducted of the current environment. The Agency has now worked out how to get to its desired future state.

A hybrid approach is being followed by the Agency for exploring advanced AI, machine learning and predicitive analytics applications. The team understands the importance of getting the foundations in place and is working towards it. At the same time, while data governance and data quality issues are being resolved, in parallel the team explores and experiments with the advanced applications. For example, TAC is sing machine learning or predictive applications to create client profiles for qualifying them for pre-approved medical services. 

Another application being explored is when clients are referred to vocational training service providers; the clients are scored and classified according to levels of need. Then TAC can make baseline predictions regarding the amount of time required for the client to get back to the workforce. That information is passed on to the service provider as a starting point."

(8) Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority

‍Mr Christopher Ingham, Deputy Chief Executive Officer

OpenGov recognised the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) for its agile project management of VRQA Home Schooling information systems. 

VRQA is Victoria's education and training regulator, an independent statutory authority that works to assure the quality of education and training in Victoria.  In 2017, VRQA faced the challenge of implementing the changes to its IT systems rapidly, catering for the flexibility necessary for newly established business processes. VRQA chose an agile project management approach, with incremental delivery of the key components.

In December 2017 the enhanced Home Schooling CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to facilitate the new registration process was released. The next iteration – the review process, is being developed now and will become available in production in May in time for the business to kick of its new annual process. Rigorous user testing and thorough training of all stakeholders of the modified CRM system, was an important aspect of this project.

Home schooling website content was reviewed, rationalised, expanded and a mobile responsive design was rolled out, so users could easily access information on mobile devices. A real-time news feature was introduced on the website to keep the community up-to-date with changing regulatory requirements.  

Thanks to the project, over 3000 Victorian families continue to educate their children at home without any hassle, despite the change in regulations. VRQA officers obtained an enhanced IT system and received important training. The home schooling community continue to receive the services and are being informed promptly. The modified CRM system has the capability to collect the necessary metrics for the Minister’s Office and for VRQA Board. These metrics are paramount to regulate home schooling education in Victoria to the highest standard.

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