Friday, December 14, 2012

Digital Economy Industry Action Plan NSW

The NSW Government has issued a Digital Economy Industry Action Plan (12 December 2012). There appear to be few amendments from the Draft, leaked by the Sydney Morning Herald in June("Heavy fog on information superhighway as action plan scorned as 'fluff", Asher Moses, 12 June 2012). There are seven initiatives in the plan (down from eight in the draft):
  1. Achieving Digital Leadership (was: International Digital Leadership)
  2. Building Digital Skills (was: "Digital Skills")
  3. Connecting Regional Communities
  4. Implementing Open Data Innovation (was: "Open Data Innovation")
  5. Growing Sydney’s Digital Precinct (was: "Digital Precinct")
  6. Improving Finance and Investment Channels (was: "Finance and Investment Channels")
  7. Driving Infrastructure Productivity (was: "Integrated Port Logistics System")
The dropped initiative is "SME-Corporate-Government Networks".

The first initiative of "Achieving Digital Leadership" would be better described as "Marketing NSW As a Place for Creative Industries". That is, the state needs to market itself as a place where digital businesses can set up. The obvious way to do this is to showcase major digital organizations already located in NSW. One way I suggest the NSW Government do this is to sponsor events particularly less formal free "un-conferences", at places such as Google Sydney, the Australian Technology Park and NSW universities, vocational training centres and cultural institutions. GovHack/GovCamp (which I am helping organize), provides a model for showcasing Australia to the world. One venue with considerable potential is the "National Centre for Creative Learning" at the new Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art Building.

The task force recommended making local libraries "epicentres of digital activity". This is not exactly a new idea, being suggested by the ACS in "Vision for a Networked Nation" in 1994 and subsequently implemented by Australian local, state and federal governments. However, libraries are now reinventing themselves as places for informal learning and this should be supported by the NSW government. Libraries provide a natural place for learning circles to meet and for people who are doing formal online study to get togehter for mutual support. This would complement the proposal to encourage vocational education and training providers to "deliver digital programs into regional areas".

While students can learn online, it helps if they have a group to help them and access to information professionals (that is librarians). The ACT Government has implemented this strategy in a bricks and mortar, by including a public library and TAFE campus in the one building in the Gungahlin Library and Learning Centre.

The NSW Digital Economy Taskforce was established by the NSW Government in 2011 to develop an Industry Action Plan to outline a vision and strategy for the state’s Digital Economy over the decade to 2021. The period to 2021 will be one of unprecedented change: increased demand and competition from emerging economies; a growing and ageing population; rising healthcare costs; the need for new skills; demands on ageing infrastructure; and the requirement for improved productivity. These are just some of the challenges facing NSW. A strong and vibrant Digital Economy will be an essential factor in helping to address these challenges and drive economic growth in NSW.

Underpinning the Digital Economy is the widespread adoption and effective exploitation of ICT. Today, ICT pervades many aspects of our lives, from the way we work and interact, to how we entertain ourselves. Looking forward, those organisations that can most effectively exploit ICT to transform the way they do business, develop new products and services, improve their efficiency and better serve their customers will be leaders in the Digital Economy.

The Digital Economy Taskforce has considered a number of issues that impact growth in the Digital Economy including: export opportunities; innovation; productivity; investment; skills; employment and workforce participation; business conditions; and global competitiveness. Based on an extensive consultation process, we have developed seven major recommendations and allied actions for immediate consideration:
  • Achieving Digital Leadership
  • Building Digital Skills
  • Connecting Regional Communities
  • Implementing Open Data Innovation
  • Growing Sydney’s Digital Precinct
  • Improving Finance and Investment Channels
  • Driving Infrastructure Productivity

Achieving Digital Leadership

We need to position NSW as a global leader in the Digital Economy in which ICT is central to productivity, innovation and competitiveness across all sectors. A future NSW Digital Economy will foster new ideas, create opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs, revolutionise the delivery of government services and transform value creation across all industries.

Building Digital Skills

For NSW to remain competitive in the next decade, it needs a vibrant, competent and technically literate workforce. The Taskforce recommends improving the digital skills and technology knowledge of NSW citizens, the development of a new technology curriculum; exploitation of e-Learning and digital technology; and improved availability and quality of digital skills through industry-led initiatives to engage and educate the future workforce.

Connecting Regional Communities

Improving access to digital services will drive growth in regional economies and enhance the quality of life in regional NSW. The Taskforce recommends stimulating the Digital Economy in regional NSW communities by improving technology access and literacy, and by encouraging regional stakeholders to develop local digital strategies. Implementing Open Data Innovation Open Data access will empower citizens and organisations to use public data to drive innovation and create new and unique solutions in areas such as transport and health. The Taskforce recommends focussed and effective implementation of the NSW ICT Strategy 2012 including the identification of priority government datasets in consultation with government, industry and the research community; implementing an open access licensing framework across NSW government; and investing in the necessary IT infrastructure to support efficient access to data.

Growing Sydney’s Digital Precinct

Growing Sydney's Digital Precinct will support the development of an ‘innovation ecosystem’ for NSW. By bringing together industry leaders, entrepreneurs in emerging technologies, relevant research and academic partners, the Digital Precinct will become a force of innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting our best and brightest, and generating a substantial new source of economic activity. The Taskforce recommends additional investment to support the growth and development of the Digital Precinct focusing on infrastructure, work spaces, global identity and connectivity.

Improving Finance and Investment Channels

Difficulty in accessing finance has been identified as an impediment for high-growth small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. For NSW to grow the Digital Economy and underpin its future, it will be essential to open new, and expand existing, funding sources. The Taskforce recommends increasing funding opportunities for NSW-based high-growth companies, both by diversifying the sources of capital available to these companies and by attracting international investors.

Driving Infrastructure Productivity

ICT is transforming many sectors of the economy including healthcare, education, transport and logistics. NSW can achieve significant productivity gains through the use of ICT in infrastructure design, operation and optimisation. The NSW Government should ensure that all state infrastructure projects should integrate ICT to deliver smart infrastructure. This represents a significant opportunity for Government and the private sector to explore ICT driven productivity gains from investment in a range of major infrastructure projects, including roads, railways, ports and hospitals, and in Sydney a new international convention and exhibition centre, and Barangaroo. The Taskforce recommends piloting programs in this area, with initial focus on an integrated port logistics system. ...

From: Executive Summary, Digital Economy Industry Action Plan, NSW Government, 12 December 2012

No comments: