The extended coronavirus pandemic had forced “a massive reallocation of resources” and a rethinking of priorities in the NSW government’s digital service delivery program, with a number of planned programs put on ice, according to the state’s Digital minister Victor Dominello.
But the urgency of both the health crisis and the economic fall-out had resulted in an accelerated digital transformation of public services and dramatically changed the relationship between citizens and the state government.
In this episode of the Commercial Disco, Mr Dominello talks at length about the re-ordering of digital priorities, and points to the specific programs that rapidly accelerated the uptake of the Service NSW app.
The mass take-up of the ‘Dine and Discover’ vouchers launched as an economic stimulus initiative in the NSW state budget last November – more than 5 million people have registered for the vouchers, which required a 100-point ID check – had profoundly changed the nature of digital identity, he said.
“I can say there were a whole lot of things that I would have expected to deliver through the [Customer Service] agency over the past 18 months that have definitely been put back in the hanger while we’ve taken steps to open up the economy or protect people in terms of QR systems and things like that,” Mr Dominello said.
“But one of the things I have really driven the agency to not lose sight of, is that with all of this amazing change that’s taking place, let’s drag the silver lining out of this. Because there’s a lot of change, and we need to make sure that we bed down our digital architectures into the future,” he said.
It sounds quaint, but it is the Dine and Discover program that has delivered the most dramatic change in digital transformation in years. Dine and Discover was aimed at stimulating the local economy by encouraging people to dine out or visit a tourist attraction.
The program used the public acceptance of the QR code (and the QR infrastructure the state had built into its Service NSW app) and bundled it with the state’s experience in digital licencing and 100-point checks, and its digital payment infrastructure.
Dine and Discover was a $500 million program to put targeted money into the hospitality and tourism sector. It was simple and effective.
But the big pay-off for the state has been in the take-up, in building a digital relationship with verified citizens through its 100-point ID check. Its ‘tell-us-once’ infrastructure means that other services can be offered up immediately to a user base of more than 5 million.
“If I look back over my shoulder in the years to come and say ‘what was the big digital transformation piece’, [Dine and Discover] was it, because of what it has enabled us to do,” Mr Dominello said.
“After Dine and Discover, the number of people that then went on to use the digital driver’s licence went through the roof,” he said. “That means it has truly been a digital transformation en masse.”
Elsewhere in this podcast, Mr Dominello discusses changes the to frameworks announced last week that will manage the sharing of data between state and governments and speaks at length about building sovereign capability in the tech sector and protecting tech supply chains.
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