Thursday, February 28, 2013

Australian Energy Rating System for Data Centres

Yvette D'Ath, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, launched the NABERS for Data Centres, 8 February 2013. This is claimed to be the world’s first performance-based rating tool. The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is a set of tools and accreditation developed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) on behalf of all Australian governments. The latest tool is for rating the energy efficiency of data centers. There is a data centre efficiency self-assessment tool for free on-line use, fact sheet, guide and Rules for collecting and using data. In addition there are data centre energy saving tips and one day Assessor training course.
The NABERS IT Equipment rating tool is the world’s first performance-based benchmarking tool to compare the energy associated with the IT equipment capacity within a data centre. Experience in developing the NABERS Energy for data centres rating tools has shown that Australian data centres have limited energy monitoring and sustainability reporting. As a result NABERS has focussed on developing simple, measurable benchmarks based on the most readily accessible data, while maintaining a robust measure of
energy performance to ensure the rating is relevant and useful for industry. An IT Equipment rating measures features that are closely related to the primary functions of a data centre (processing, storage and networking) and that all data centres provide, regardless of how they provide them. Given the current limitations in energy reporting and data collection by industry; difficulties in accessing useful work and energy consumption; and the requirement to ensure the metrics fairly represent all types of data centres functions; NABERS has developed two IT Equipment metrics:
  • Processing capacity – measures the sum of the number of server cores multiplied by clock speed in gigahertz (GHz), and
  • Storage capacity – measures the total unformatted storage capacity in terabytes (TB).
The NABERS performance benchmark model predicts the industry median greenhouse gas emissions for a given amount of data centre processing and storage capacity. This means that if a data centre consumes more energy than the benchmark model predicts, the site is less energy efficient than the industry median (set at 3 stars), while if it consumes less energy it is more efficient than the median. ...

From: NABERS Energy for data centres: Rating Your Data Centre Energy, National Australian Built Environment Rating System, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, February 2013

Federal Opposition Focuses on On-line Education for Universities

The speech by Tony Abbott, opposition leader, at the Universities Australia Higher Education Conference yesterday, concentrated on on-line education, judging from the published summary. Universities Australia had put twenty two proposals to the "Incoming Government". However, Mr. Abbot appears to have directly addressed only a two of these in his speech:
  • 2. maintain a system that enables any Australian who is capable of studying at university to do so
  • 17. ... review the regulatory burden placed on the university sector ...
Of the twenty one initiatives the universities proposed to take, the opposition leader appears to have only supported three:
  •   2. broaden pathways into university degrees
  •  8. improve international students’ welfare and university experience
  • 19. integrate technologies to support teaching and enhance the student experience
Mr. Abbot highlighted on-line learning, and in particular Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), pointing out these provide opportunities but also challenges for universities.

The opposition also proposed to establish a new Colombo Plan. It should be noted that the Colombo Plan, for cooperative economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific, is a multinational initiative which is still in operation, with Australia providing university education as part of the plan. Proposals for a new plan would therefore need to be negotiated with the other countries involved. The plan is named after the location of its foundation meeting in Colombo in 1950. There is a detailed history of the politics behind the plan in "Facing Asia: A History of the Colombo Plan" by Daniel Oakman (ANU e-Press, 2010). The Colombo Plan Secretariat is still located in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

As it happens I will be speaking on e-learning at an international conference in Colombo in late April. I discussed co-operation on e-learning for sustainable development in Indonesia late last year.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Smarter Australia: An agenda for Australian higher education 2013-2016

Universities Australia today released "A Smarter Australia: An agenda for Australian higher education 2013-2016". This 80 page document details reforms proposed for Australia's universities. There is also the more provocatively titled four page summary document "A Smarter Australia: Policy advice for an Incoming Government 2013–2016", which implies Universities Australia does not believe the current Gillard government will be reelected.

Four trends are suggested as driving change in higher education:
  1. The digital economy and technology
  2. global higher education market
  3. Asian century
  4. many countries develop and expand their own world-class capacity
Four themes are proposed
  1. Increase Australians’ university participation
  2. Develop Australia’s globally engaged university sector
  3. A powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress
  4. Efficiency, investment and regulation


To herald a new era in Australian higher education, Universities Australia, the peak body for 39 Australian universities, has developed A Smarter Australia: An agenda for higher education 2013–2016. In this statement we outline the reforms required to underpin the nation’s higher education system over the next four years, with a view to longer-term changes.
A Smarter Australia responds to four trends that are driving change in Australian higher education: the emergence of the digital economy and new technology; increasing globalisation and the possibilities of the Asian century; economic and industrial restructuring as the nation responds to the resources boom; and the need to improve productivity with universities central to the >national innovation effort. This statement sets out principles and actions for responding to these drivers under four themes.

Theme 1 Increase Australians’ university participation

To increase Australians’ opportunities to attend university, universities will:
  • broaden pathways into university degrees
  • respond to student demand and national and regional employment demand
  • evaluate and adjust partnership programs that support access to university for students from low socio-economic backgrounds
  • expand flexible offerings for students
  • expand opportunities for regional students to attend university
  • adopt a whole-of-institution approach to attract and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff.
Universities Australia recommends that the Australian Government:
  • maintain income-contingent HELP loans
  • maintain a system that enables any Australian who is capable of studying at university to do so
  • expand sub-bachelor places
  • maintain successful equity programs
  • collaborate with universities on employment and graduate skill demand
  • increase the stock of affordable student housing.

Theme 2 Develop Australia’s globally engaged university sector

To develop Australia’s globally engaged university sector, Australian universities will:
  • improve international students’ welfare and university experience
  • improve English language proficiency and opportunities for cultural exchange
  • extend student housing services
  • expand provision offshore
  • continue to globalise their curriculum
  • stimulate study abroad
  • strengthen international research links.
Universities Australia recommends that the Australian Government:
  • further refine its regulation of international education
  • broaden advice on international education to include all the industries that are substantially involved in international education
  • support international research collaboration
  • advance the 2012 APEC leaders’ declaration to enhance student mobility by providing incentives for students to complete at least part of their degree overseas and assistance to universities for outbound mobility programs.

Theme 3 A powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress

To develop a powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress, universities will:
  • review how best to train PhD graduates for employment in the broader economy and increase the number of international students enrolled in PhDs
  • extend and deepen collaboration and connections with the end users of research
  • expand research outreach through strategic engagement and wider access to research outputs.
Universities Australia recommends that the Australian Government:
  • adopt a long-term and sustainable research investment plan
  • increase the maximum duration of the major national competitive grants by two to three years
  • fund the integrated health research centres discussed by the McKeon review of health and medical research in Australia
  • increase support for international research collaboration
  • partner with universities to evaluate the impact of research
  • increase direct investment and incentives for investing in research establish an efficient and integrated research publications data, records and text access system.

Theme 4 Efficiency, investment and regulation

To further improve efficiency, universities will:
  • introduce external peer moderation of standards
  • integrate technologies to support teaching and enhance the student experience
  • increase philanthropic donations
  • further explore and adopt measures to enhance their operational efficiency.
Universities Australia recommends that the Australian Government:
  • appoint the Productivity Commission to review the regulatory burden placed on the university sector, with special attention to removing duplication between jurisdictions, and excluding universities from regulatory regimes where a strong public interest rationale and benefit cannot be identified
  • leave uncapped the number of undergraduate places it funds at Australian universities
  • maintain its current indexation of higher education funding and consider lifting base funding per student by 2.5 per cent each year over a five-year period
  • identify a continuing source of funds for university infrastructure
  • match philanthropic donations
  • negotiate intakes into graduate programs in institutional compacts.

Expand flexible offerings

Australian universities are using new information and communication technologies to make higher education more flexible, more accessible and more productive. Many universities are offering programs online, with or without entry requirements, through their own platforms, some by participation in Open Universities Australia or through massive open online courses. As online learning expands it will transform higher education by developing new pedagogies, by making study accessible anywhere at any time, and by introducing new business models. Universities will expand their online and other flexible offerings and will establish more paths for students to move from open and flexible courses to degree courses that can be completed either fully online or in combination with distance and/or campus study. ...

Open access to research

... Australian universities have repositories of their research publications that are open to any person in the world with access to the internet; however, only about 30 per cent of publications are recorded in institutions’ digital repositories and full text is currently available for many fewer publications. The National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council now require any publication arising from research to which they contribute funding to be freely accessible to the public within 12 months of publication.

Universities Australia believes that there is enormous public benefit in increasing access to the outcomes of all research, especially research that has been publicly funded. There are a number of logistical, practical and commercial issues that need to be addressed to achieve this goal and Universities Australia, with the support of government, is committed to making Australia’s high-quality research output freely accessible to all. ...

From: "A Smarter Australia: An agenda for Australian higher education 2013-2016", Universities Australia today released , 27 February 2013

Australian Open Access Support Group

The Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) has  announced its new web site. AOASG is an open access to research advocacy group set up by six Australian universities (ANU, Charles Sturt, Macquarie, Newcastle, QUT, and Victoria). AOASG point to the Australian research already freely available on-line, including Australian research in Trove, provided by the National Library of Australia ( get a few entries in the system).

The launch of the new AOASG website was not without a few problems. The emailed media release I received actually took me to a Microsoft Outlook login screen at This was after my system warned me it might be a scam. I assume AOASG are using some system to track how successful the announcement was. This can be counterproductive, if it results in the message looking like a scam  or the links not working at all. Also ending up at the Microsoft site is not a good look for an "open access" independent organization, as it makes it look like a front for Microsoft.

I manually entered the web address and that worked okay. Here are the results of the usual checks I run on new websites:
  1. W3C Markup Validation Service: 5 Errors, 2 warning(s) Not unusual and easily corrected.
  2. W3C mobileOK Checker: 68% which is a good score (many websites score zero): 0 critical, 1 severe, 1 medium, 5 low failures.
  3. AChecker: Accessibility Review (Guidelines: WCAG 2.0 (Level AA))" two "Known Problems", much less than the usual number and easily fixed.
The major question the home page doesn't answer is: Who is in the AOASG and what do they provide which I can use? I suggest AOASG need to put the list of organizations which is on the membership page also on the front page, preferably with the logos of these organizations. AOASG also need something on the front page which is of use to the average academic, if not member of the general public, such as a search box where they can find open access content from the AOASG members and a toolkit for implementing open access in their organization.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Griffins Canberra 100 Years Events

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, in Sydney in 1930The Walter Burley Griffin Society will hold the Marion Mahony Griffin Lecture 2013 15 August, the "Griffins’ Canberra: 100 years symposium" 16 August, and Griffins’ Canberra bus tour 17 August in Canberra. These are to celebrate one hundred years since the arrival of Walter Burley Griffin in Australia in August 1913, to implement their winning design for the city of Canberra.

3D World Wide Web

Hugh Fisher will speak on "3D Graphics in the Browser" at the Australian National University, College of Engineering and Computer Science, in Canberra, 10am, 6 March 2013.

3D Graphics in the Browser

Hugh Fisher (College of Engineering and Computer Science, ANU)

COMPUTER SCIENCE SEMINAR interactive and Human-Centred Computing

DATE: 2013-03-06
TIME: 10:00:00 - 11:00:00
LOCATION: CSIT Seminar Room, N101 ...
"This time it will surely work." This seminar looks at WebGL, what it is, what it can do and how it compares to previous attempts at making the World Wide Web three dimensional. This seminar is for anyone interested in cutting edge web development or the history of computing technology.
Hugh Fisher is a research programmer in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. He has been programming 3D graphics since the days of purple SGI boxes and owns a copy of every book by William Gibson.

Measuring Policy Impact of University Research

Greetings from the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra. Paul Harris is speaking on "Pathways to policy impact". ANU and CSIRO are collaborating to look at how the research which is undertaken at a university contributes to the development of government policy. The ANU and CSIRO between them spend more than $2B of public money on research each year, so they are obliged to look at if this expenditure is providing a benefit to the public. Paul pointed out there is much informal interaction between researchers and government people, so clearly it is having an impact. There are some attempts to document this, especially in CSIRO, but this could be done more systematically. Paul pointed out that as CSIRO is a government body, the researchers have more direct access to internal policy processes in government. In contrast ANU as a university does not have as direct access (alto ugh there is less formal consultations made through those of us at the ANU who are former public servants). Paul also suggests that researcher should consider the possible impact of proposed research. The UK Research Councils have done some work on "Pathways to Impact". It occurs to me that this work could benefit from the work done on teaching commercialization to researchers, through projects such as "Innovation ACT". Impact on government policy would then be just one way the results of research could be turned into a useful result. Many of the skills developed in innovation courses would also apply to policy, covering IP issues, how to prepare and present a proposal. Paul gave the example of the US "SPARC Usable Science A Handbook for Science Policy Decision Makers". He pointed out that the process of research to policy is not necessarily linear: instead there is two way interaction between researchers and policy makers. Paul asked the interesting question of the role of science of the public service policy cycle. I suggest this raises a more interesting question about what the actual policy development process is in government and what it should be. My experience of working for government was that there was no workable policy development process: policies had to be developed in secret, as a draft policy could be used by your enemies. Paul touched on this by suggesting that the political impact of research needs to be considered.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reading Blitz Proposal Needs Update for Gen WiFi

The Prime Minister and the Minister for School Education today announced a "National 'Reading Blitz' for All Young Australians". From 2014, the Federal Government will ask  schools to sign up to a three-year program for Foundation to Year 3 students, to help with the basics of reading. The program would emphasize teaching methods with a  reading plan for each school, specialist teacher skills and records of student progress. These elements also appear in US President George W. Bush's "US No Child Left Behind Act" (NCLB) and it appears the Australian announcement is based on the US policy from a decade ago. Unfortunately, the Australian government proposals do not appear to take into account recent research and experience on what makes for effective education. More training for teachers has been found to be effective, as is student centered learning with on-line and classroom support.

The RAND Corporation has carried out several studies of the US NCLB, with the latest commentary stating: "While NCLB has produced some positive effects, the bill has not produced enough improvement to reach its goal of all students meeting proficiency standards by 2014 and has numerous flaws that policymakers should address." (Brian M. Stecher, January 14, 2013). A study of implementation of NCLB in Florida (Zeig J. L., 2007) found that the Act was implemented, with changed teaching practice and reporting of results. However, that study did not determine if NCLB improved student outcomes.

Before implementing the US policy, it would be prudent for the Australian Government to assess the US experience and correct any flaws found. The cost of the policy implementation for Australia and the estimated benefits would then need to be detailed, before a decision was made.

In "Educating Gen Wi-Fi: How We Can Make Schools Relevant for 21st Century Learners" (ABC Books, 2013) Australian educator Greg Whitby  provides a practical prescription for better education. Whitby suggests teachers need to be "... supported in the ongoing professional learning by close and regular collaboration with their colleagues". His proposals are based on practical experience in the Australian school system.

James Barber Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England
In "E-learning: Supplementary or disruptive?" (Telecommunications Journal of Australia, February 2013), James Barber Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, reviews progress with electronic learning over the last two decades and its effectiveness. He concludes that blended learning, combining the classroom and on-line is most effective and that mobile devices will have a large impact. It seem likely this will not be confided to the tertiary sector and the Australian Government need to take this into account in its reading policy.

Making Schools Relevant for the Next Generation

In "Educating Gen Wi-Fi: How We Can Make Schools Relevant for 21st Century Learners" (ABC Books, 2013) Australian educator  Greg Whitby  provides a practical prescription for better education. Whitby suggests teachers need to be "... supported in the ongoing professional learning by close and regular collaboration with their colleagues".
In the first chapter Whitby points out that the Socratic Method of  question and answer teaching goes back to ancient Greece. He then jumps forward to the invention of the printing press, which enabled mass produced text-books to mass schooling of the 19th century. After a brief history of Australian schooling from federation, Whitby then discuses the 1970's open classroom (which has some similarities to the MIT iCampus of the early 2000s). After briefly touching on the introduction of computers in NSW in the 1980s, Whitby  turn to the Progressive Education pedagogy of the last 19 and early 20th century.

Chapter 2 looks at today's schools, with information overload and rapid changes, such as email being already seen as out of date by students. In chapter 3 the idea of diversity being normal is introduced, but it is not until the next chapter it is explained how this can be done, with a "toolbox for toady's teachers". This toolbox is essentially a collection of today's online tools: which are now available through free open source software, such as Moodle. At this point Whitby  emphasises that teachers need to be learning focused, not teaching focused. But I would have liked to hear more about how teachers can get the assistance they need, including resources and training, to do this.

Chapter 5 addresses assessment, which is so important that perhaps it should appear earlier in the book. Assessment for learning is stressed, rather than assessment of content (as in the NAPLAN testes). After an all too brief chapter on assessment, Whitby moves on to classroom design in chapter 6. This classroom design is a topic I have spent considerable time on over the last few years in the university environment. I concluded that schools were at least a decade ahead of unviersit\ies in their design of classrooms, so I was interested to hear what was said about school design. Whitby  suf\ggeses classroom which are not fully enclosed. The classroom should have at least three points of focus(such as a board, stage and a reading chair). Also provision for three teachers should be allowed (much like a university TEAL room).

After trying out various learning commons, my ideal would be something like a space with:
  1. Walls painted with whiteboard paint, with short through projects (so walls could be written or projected onto and easily cleaned).
  2. Flexible flooring, which is comfortable to walk on but also can stand up to wheeled furniture and can be easily cleaned,
  3. All furniture on wheels, for easy movement,
  4. Movable walls, or partitions, so the facility can be opened out into one large space,
  5. ICT hidden in the walls, with wi-fi for communications and computers in recessed equipment cabinets,
  6. Open Grid Ceiling, with cable ways exposed so that cabling and lighting can be easily changed and acoustic panels adjusted to reduce noise.
One claim by Whitby will be a surprise for many, that class size is not an issue. Research shows that the quality of the teaching is much more important in terms of student results than the number of students in the class.  For anyone who as recently undertaken a course in education (as I have recently done) there will be little surprising or revolutionary in what Whitby  has to say. These are methods of education which have been researched and proven to work. The techniques advocated for schools are essentially the same as are now being applied at university for postgraduate learning. In 2008 I announced that I had given my last  lecture and would instead be using e-learning and seminars.  At the time this was seen as a little eccentric by my colleagues, but is becoming increasingly common.

What was disappointing was that Whitby does not provided clearer policy prescriptions for education. However, if anyone doubts the practicality of what is proposed, they need only need visit the multi-purpose learning centre at St Monica’s Primary, North Parramatta, NSW
 to see this form of education in action.

There is also a ABC Radio National interview with Greg Whitby (from 31 January 2013 8:42AM).

ps: Thanks to the National Library of Australia for the copy of the book and a PC to type this posting on in the main reading room.

MOOCs a Rerun of Dotcom Crash?

Susan P. Crawford provides a detailed and well researched analysis of issues with the convergence of the US telecommunications, TV and cable industries in "Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age" (Yale University Press, 2013, ANU Library call number KN342.C73 2013). However, the book assumes the reader is familiar with the USA and does not discuss the issues in the global context. It would have helped to have more comparisons between the US situation and the rest of the world. Also there is little mention of the role of the World Wide Web and the arrival of Apps for mobile devices.

The analysis of the failure of the AOL - Time Warner merger is of particular interest. It may seem like ancient history, but similar mergers between old and new media are proposed today. One area which is developing rapidly is that of e-learning, with universities forming consortia to deliver free on-line courses. This has echoes of the 2000 Dot-com bubble, where companies rushed to set up on-line businesses, with no plan for attracting revenue.

3D Printed StarTrek Style Flip Phone Case

Motorola A760Kogan have announced their low cost "Agora 5 Inch Screen Smartphone". I have suggested they provide the phone dimensions in a CAD file, so we can 3D print our own cases. What I would like is a hard hinged cover to turn it into a StarTrek style flip phone, like the Motorola A760.

The Motorola A760, had a cover over its touch screen which hinged up to provide the ear-piece. There were no electronics built into the cover, it simply had a hollow channel to carry the sound from the body of the phone to the top of the cover. This same design should be able to be applied to any slab style phone. It would allow the ear-piece to be molded to more comfortably fit the ear, reducing background noise. It also positions the phone's antenna further from the user's head, improving signal strength and reducing radiation hazard.

The Kopgan Agora Dual Core Smartphone specifications indicate that it has some interesting features. It has an unusually large 5 inch screen, but only 480 x 800 pixel resolution, much lower than other large screen phones. But this may not be a problem as I have trouble seeing the text, let along the pixels, on the average phone.

Also there are two Mini SIM sockets allowing the phone to be used on two mobile phone networks at the same time (one 2G connection and one 3G). Previously I tried a dual SIM phone, the idea being that I could use a 2G SIM for voice calls and the 3G SIM for data (separate data plans being cheaper than those bundled with voice plans). This did not work well in practice as I found that each time I made a voice call, the data service was cut off. It was not clear if this was a problem with this phone or a limitation of all such dial SIM devices. The phone I purchased  (a Huawei Deuce U8520 Dual SIM Android Smart Phone) also has a battery which lasted only an hour and the phone would lock up and randomly reboot. I returned the phone to Allphones at Belconnen (Canberra) in 2011 for repair, but have heard nothing since (no repair and no refund). As a result I am wary about the dual SIM devices, however I found Kogan's after sales support to be excellent with the two Kogan Agora Laptops I have purchased previously.

Mobile Learning Future for University Education In Australia

James Barber Vice-Chancellor of the University of New EnglandIn "E-learning: Supplementary or disruptive?" (Telecommunications Journal of Australia, February 2013), James Barber Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, concludes with the hope that "Australian universities embrace the opportunity that the NBN provides before it becomes a threat to them". However, I suggest the evidence in the paper supports the use of lower speed communication, suitable for mobile devices. Concentrating on the use of the NBN's higher speed fixed infrastructure would lock Australian universities out of most of the education market and in particular the Asian professional education market.

Barber reviews progress with electronic learning over the last two decades and its effectiveness. They cite research showing e-learning produces better results than traditional classroom instruction, but blended learning (classroom combined with e-learning) is better than e-learning on its own.

Barber traces the idea of open courseware back to MIT's decision in 2001 to uploading course materials, but notes ‘Massive Online Open Courses’ (MOOCs) only became commonly discussed in 2011 with Stanford's robotics course. This was quickly followed by the establishment of Udacity in 2012, then six days later and then edX two weeks after. What I found curiously absent from this analysis was any mention of Open University UK, which had been offering free on-line courses since at least 2010, using its own and others free open source software.

Barber describes the rapid proliferation of mobile devices, particularly in developing nations such as India and its use for education. The paper provides a very good overview of e-learning development and I agree with the findings, apart from one point which is not supported by the evidence presented. Barber ends with the hope that Australian universities make use of the NBN. However, the NBN is not designed to support mobile devices and will primarily provide fixed fiber-optic connections.

If universities design their e-learning for the NBN's fixed high speed fiber, then students using mobile devices and some on the rural and remote wireless NBN connections, will be excluded. In addition this would exclude Australian universities from providing courses on-line to students in the Asian region, using mobile devices. Instead I suggest universities should aim to support lower speed connections. Lower speeds can be accommodated by careful course-ware design and this can support an updated form of blended learning where the class is synchronized with asynchronous communication.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Optimizing the Pedagogy, Software and Content Formats for On-line Courses

A few days ago the Australian National University (ANU) announced it had joined the edX consortium and would start offering Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOCs) from 2014. I have been running an on-line courses for small numbers of students at ANU since 2009, so decided to see what was needed to use the content for a MOOC. Here I have discussed general issues. At present I don't have any technical or procedural details of how edX is implemented.


The content for my courses is already free open access, so that removes a major impediment to making it widely available. Also I prepare my course notes in a format designed to meet accessibility standards and require minimal system resources. I did this because Australian law requires access for the disabled and also because some students are in remote locations with low bandwidth connections. In practice this is a matter of using a simple layout for documents, with default formatting. The content then easily translates into the content delivery system used. Originally I used lots of separate notes in different formats, but now consolidate all the noes for a course into a HTML formatted e-book, using the Moodle book module. Hopefully edX has a similar feature.


I designed course content so it can be downloaded and used off-line. This is to help with locations where the student has only intermittent Internet access. Providing off-line access also helps with student learning: the student has a reasonable chunk of work to do (either alone or in a group), before asking their tutor or fellow students about it. I will be discussing this form of synchronized asynchronous learning in a presentation at ICCSE 2013 (a preprint of the paper is available).

On-line university courses will typically group students into cohorts of about two dozen and encourage the students to get to know each other and their tutor. MOOCs seem to be still trying to find a way to reproduce this approach, with students forming their own on-line study groups. Clearly it is unworkable to have thousands of students in one group and so tools are needed to have then forum smaller groups. There have been reports of problems with this in some MOOCs, with the tools for students to select their group not being able to cope with the load. It will be interesting to see how edX handles this.


Courses are usually delivered at institutions using specialized Learning Management System (LMS) software. ANU uses Moodle and much effort is put into making sure that there is sufficient capacity for the more than ten thousand students. Even so, like many of my colleagues, I also provide a copy of course notes outside the LMS, on an ordinary web site, in case of access problems. This is also useful for students who have not yet completed the formal enrollment process, and so do not have access to the LMS, but want to start work.

Hundreds of thousands, or millions, of students creates a very large load for the LMS. Today Coursera reported: "We're currently experiencing server issues. Stay tuned to Thank you for your patience.".

I have some experience at diagnosing problems with on-line systems used for emergency warning and disaster recovery. These systems experience high loads during an emergency. The usual response is to increase server capacity, but if you have very high loads this can be ineffective. It is possible to carry out a quick examination of the system and usually identify a few hot-spots which can be fixed to increase the system capacity by hundreds or thousands of times. One problems is customization of content for each user unnecessarily, thus preventing caching working. Also video and images in the wrong format, resulting in very large files can be a problem. Another problem is to offer  content to the user before they ask for it, thus wasting system resources and their time.

In the longer term it should be possible to break the LMS into a number of independent parts to make it more efficient and reliable. Google have taken an interesting approach with their "Google Course Builder", by essentially having the courses hand crafted using HTML and JavaScript. This approach will not work for the average course designer, which does not have that level of technical skills, but might be workable with some front end tools to generate the needed code. The result could be something like a compiler for computer software, which produced code which is very efficient to run, but the penalty being changes are harder to make. The LMS can instead be thought of as an interpreter of the course-ware: easier to make changes to but much less efficient to run.

Where are teacher has a few dozen, or few hundred, students they can simply make a change to the course and tell the students, answering any queries. But of there are millions of students such ad-hoc changes will cause chaos. It may be that course designers will need to learn some of the same skills of software engineers use to systematically make changes to a large system, so as to cause least inconvenience to those using it.

Some MOOC providers seem to be attempting to avoid the problem of supporting a large system by using other services in place of their own, such as Google and Facebook. But this may simply transfer the problem somewhere else and also can result in privacy problems. Universities offering courses in Australia are subject to federal privacy laws. It is reasonably simple to configure the in-house LMS (even an outsourced one) to meet the legal requirements to protect student information. But if the students are required to use an external social networking site as part of their course, then ensuring privacy becomes more difficult.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Recording a Vision: Marion Mahony Griffin's Renderings of Canberra

Associate Professor Christopher Vernon, University of Western Australia, will speak on "Recording a Vision" about  Marion Mahony Griffin's Renderings of Canberra, at the National Archives in Canberra, 1 Mar 2013:

Speakers Corner- Design 29: Recording a Vision

About this event

Hear the 'bigger picture' story of the Griffin plans for Canberra. Griffin scholar Christopher Vernon shows how Marion Mahony Griffin's graphic technique evolved, and sheds new light on the talented assistants who helped produce her exquisite renderings of the national capital. For example - who were Roy, Gertrude and George, and how did they help the Griffins express their vision for Canberra?

Australian Government Open Information Access Report

Greetings from Canberra, where Professor John McMillan, the Australian Information Commissioner just launched the report "Open public sector information: from principles to practice".  The commissioner pointed out that agencies have difficulty with the accessibility for the disabled of their documents and do not have metadata for many documents. Another challenge was agencies implementing the government's policy of open access being the default. Professor McMillan was speaking at an event organized by NICTA as part of "Open Data Day".

Open public sector information: from principles to practice

Report on agency implementation of the Principles on open public sector information

February 2013


  1. Foreword
  2. Background to the PSI survey
    1. Outline of this report
  3. 1. Summary of findings
    1. Overview of key challenges
    2. Priority areas for action
  4. 2. Results
    1. Open PSI Principle 1: Open access to information – a default position
    2. Open PSI Principle 2: Engaging the community
    3. Open PSI Principle 3: Effective information governance
    4. Open PSI Principle 4: Robust information asset management
    5. Open PSI Principle 5: Discoverable and useable information
    6. Open PSI Principle 6: Clear reuse rights
    7. Open PSI Principle 7: Appropriate charging for access
    8. Open PSI Principle 8: Transparent enquiry and complaint process
  5. 3. Analysis
    1. Strong agency leadership
    2. Strategic management of PSI assets
    3. Public engagement
    4. Information management
    5. Using Web 2.0 to support open PSI
    6. Open licensing
    7. Charging for access to PSI
    8. Complaints and enquiries processes
    9. PSI issues for galleries, libraries, archives and museums
    10. Keeping abreast of international developments
  6. Appendix A – PSI survey methodology
    1. Survey implementation
    2. Focus groups
    3. Interim results
  7. Appendix B – Summary of UTS intern research project: Access to and use of public sector information: The academic reuser perspective
    1. Background
    2. Process
    3. Findings and recommendations
  8. Appendix C – Definitions

Thursday, February 21, 2013

ANU First Australian University to Join edX e-Learning Consortium

The Australian National University (ANU) announced it has joined the edX on-line course consortium ("ANU joins edX online education revolution", 21 February 2013). edX was originally set up by MIT and Harvard University to provide Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOCs). ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young announced the first two ANUx courses would be Astrophysics by Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt and Engaging India by Dr McComas Taylor. Also I have offered to prepare a MOOC version of my award winning ICT Sustainability course, which has been run on-line at ANU since 2009 and uses an open access e-book, but I am no Nobel Laureate, or Sanskrit scholar. ;-)

Cyber Security Needs to Cover All Threats

US computer security company Mandiant released a detailed 76 page report "APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units" (18 February 2013). This alleged that numerous cyber attacks on governments and companies around the world were undertaken by a specialist unit of the Chinese army (PLA GSD 3rd Department, 2nd Bureau MUCD Unit 61398). However, the existence of state sponsored cyber espionage should not come as a surprise. It is to be expected that nations will attempt to extract secrets from others for commercial and strategic reasons, even ones they have friendly relations with (as has been routine in the pre-Internet age). In addition, it is to be expected that nations will have in place plans for conducting offensive cyber warfare to disrupt the military operations, government and civil infrastructure of potential opponents. Pointing out that other nations are planning, or carrying out, cyber attacks is not an effective form of defense.

The US Army Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) hosted a planning day for the "Tactical Electromagnetic Cyber Warfare Demonstrator" (Tec-WD, pronounced "Tech-wood") in late 2012. The Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard,  visited the Australian Defence Department's Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) at the Defence Signals Directorate in Canberra to announce an "Australian cyber security centre to be established". This followed the launch of the  "Strong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia’s National Security". US President Obama signed a "Presidential Policy Directive -- Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience" on 14 February.

However, a military cyber-center cannot protect a government or civilian computer system which has lax security measures. All companies and government agencies should have in place defenses to protect against on-line attack. Mandiant describe "spear phishing" as the most commonly used attack. With this a message is sent which appears to be from within an organization. The message has an attachment which exploits security flaws in the computer operating system. The example given shows an executable program (.EXE) file disguised as a PDF document. However, any organization which allows arbitrary executable programs to pass through its firewalls and then allows such code to be executed on its computers has a very low level of security. Every government agency and company of any size should have procedures in place to prevent this form of attack. A common problem is old software with known security flaws, which has not been updated. If the organization cannot afford to install new versions of commercial software, then there are free open source software packages, with government security ratings, available for use.

Opening Government Data in Australia

NICTA are hosting "Opening Government Data in Australia – Next Steps" with the Australian Information Commissioner, in Canberra at noon on Friday, 22 February 2013. Other Australian events for "Open Data Day" are Hack for Education and Environment at UTS in Sydney and "Maleny2013".

Opening Government Data in Australia 


To support and encourage the International Open Data Hackthon (, the Australian Information Commissioner, NICTA/eGov Cluster and the Office for Spatial Policy are doing a launch event about next steps for opening up government data in Australia.
Recording: This event will be recorded and published online after the event.
Date: Friday 22 February 2013
Time: 12:00 - 13:00
RSVP : Eventbrite


12:00 – The OAIC will launch their latest publication, Open public sector information; from principles to practice and Australian Information Commissioner Professor John McMillian will discuss:
  • agency successes in implementing the Principles on open public sector information
  • the challenges to be overcome
  • the opportunities for agencies to increase the value of public sector information
  • action the OAIC will take to assist agencies to further implement the Principles
  • international developments in the open government movement
12:20 – Helen Owens from the Office of Spatial Policy – will discuss progress on opening government geospatial data and specifically the Foundation Spatial Data Framework.
12:35 – The eGov Cluster will present some recent projects using government data for public benefits and innovation, and will discuss how governments can collaborate with the private sector.
12:50 – A short Q&A panel session with the speakers about opening government data in Australia.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Time for Simplified Standardized Emergency Warnings

A media report indicates that the Victorian Government is to review online fire warnings and rebuild the FireReady app ("The CFA app that has fires raging across Bass Strait"Melissa Fyfe, The Age, February 20, 2013). This is not before time as these problems were known about long before the FireReady and other current bush-fire warning systems were built. Regrettably the Victorian Country Fire Authority website, as recently as January had already identified problems which would have limited its effective operation.

In 2003 I gave a conference presentation on problems experienced with on-line systems in the Canberra 2003 bushfires. In 2006 I discussed work on systems for the 2004 Tsunami. In 2007 I summarized some suggestions for "Emergency Web Page Design for Local Government". None of these presentations contained anything which should not have already been know to any competent ICT professional working on emergency systems.

The Australian Emergency Alert system was originally designed to send text messages to mobile phones based on the billing address. This limitation of the system was known at the time it was developed. In 2010 the PM and AG announced that the system would be upgraded to use the location of the handset. However, I don't know how far implementation of this has advanced ("Fears rise over bushfire emergency system flaws", James Hutchinson, Australian Financial Review, ).

The standardization of the symbols used in maps is difficult, as different agencies are in charge of different forms of emergency and use different symbols. Symbols understood by experts may not be suitable for the general public. Also not enough use is made of standardized symbols (pictograms) in web sites, in preference to hard to interpret photos and complex diagrams.

Another area which has not received sufficient attention is the use of standardized language and templates for the text of warnings. A 2011 Canberra fire warning had spelling errors, resulting some thinking it a hoax.

Who Pays for MOOCs?

The question with massive open online courses (MOOCs) is not the technology or the pedagogy, but the business model: who will pay to create them? The public perception is that many on-line resources are "free", but someone has to provided the resources to set them up. Free web search engines existed long before Google, but Google found a way to make money out of them. Similarly it is possible to create a MOOC, but not clear how to fund it. Current students at educational institutions pay directly for some materials (such as text books) and for tuition, in some cases the state, or a charity, pays part of the cost. Who will pay for the MOOCs?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ANU Online Shop Build by Students

The Australian National University marketing office has not adopted by suggestion for an ANU batik shirt, but they have implemented an Online ANU Shop, with an e-commerce system designed by the ICT students. Particularly popular are the ANU infant T-shirs with new graduates stocking up even before they plan the family. Also the Eucalyptus & Rosellas Scarf looks good, perhaps a batik style shirt could use the same pattern.

Research for the Real World

Greetings from the Australian National University where Dr Fatih M. Porikli is talking about his work on Computer Vision at MERL Research.

Dr Porikli explained that 40% of the work is on basic research, the rest on on to apply this to real world application. He emphasized that researchers need to con sider if a proposed project is worthwhile (Heilmeier's Questions). He pointed out this may seem obvious but is often forgotten.

Dr. Porikli  discussed trends in computer vision, with what was previously science fiction now becoming a reality. But he did not discuss the details of his own research, due to the general audience.

You can see a video by Dr. Porikli and he also has a number of patents. (the latest patent is for "Method for tracking tumors in bi-plane images"). He is currently working on radio therapy systems and UAVs.

Dr. Porikli's comments on how to link research to products are particularly relevant, given the Australian government's announcement this week of $500M for Industry Innovation Precincts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Australian Industry Innovation Precincts Proposed

The Australian government has proposed up to ten Industry Innovation Precincts at a cost of $500M to "drive productivity, improve connections between business and the research sector and mobilise Australian industry to compete more successfully in global markets." Each precinct will have a research organization (university or CSIRO) as well as business, to foster mobility between academic institutions and businesses.

Available are:
  1. Executive Summary
  2. The full statement: "A Plan for Australian Jobs: The Australian Government's Industry and Innovation Statement
  3. Media release: "Industry Innovation Precincts to create jobs of the future", Media Release, Minister for Industry and Innovation, the Hon Greg Combet AM MP, and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Joe Ludwig, 17 Feb 2013
Many local, regional and national governments have tried to reproduce "Silicon Valley", with limited success in these Silicons. In 1996 I visited Cambridge (England) to see how the technology companies around the university developed. This became known as "Silicon Fen" through a process known as the the "Cambridge phenomenon". In "Building Arcadia" I suggested how this could be emulated in Australia, laking use of locations such as the Australian Technology Park (ATP) in Sydney. Later NICTA, was set up at the ATP to foster innovation in the ICT industry. Australian governments have so far invested $1B in NICTA at several sites across Australia.

In Canberra the "Innovation ANU" program was et up to teach university students how to turn a scientific discovery into a business. This was later was was broadened to "Innovation ACT" for students at all Canberra's universities. I suggest that program could be broadened again and delivered on-line to students at all the ten new Innovation Precincts, and elsewhere across Australia. Such a program could combine nationally delivered on-line materials with local "un-conference" events, which bring people from different fields together. A good example of an unconferecne is BarCamp Canberra, this year at the Inspire Centre, University of Canberra, 16 March (purpose built for this type of learning event). A national innovation program could offer participants a formal university qualification, counting towards a degree.

ANU Exchange at City West , CanberraThe new policy mentions CSIRO, but curiously does not mention NICTA. The investment of $50M per precinct proposed in the new government policy is minimal compared to the cost of initiatives such as NICTA and CSIRO. However, this would be useful in making linkages between research and industry, if used to accelerate already emerging precincts. An example is "City West,  with the ANU Exchange development, to the west of the Canberra CBD, where the ANU campus is blending with government and private enterprises, related to education and research.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Structuring Creative Collaboration

Crowd-share Innovation - Intensive Creative CollaborationsLast night I attended the launch of the book "Crowd-share Innovation - Intensive Creative Collaborations" (Schweitzer and Jakovich, 2012) at the OBJECT AUSTRALIAN DESIGN CENTRE, Surry Hills, Sydney. The book is the product of a design course at UTS u.lab called "Groudbreaker".

A group of masters students attended a series of workshops where the explored issues with designers. The students then undertook group exercises. Materials produced by the students, along with their teachers, were then collated into a book.

The idea of having a group of design students work intensively in a studio is not a new idea, the best know use being the Bauhaus studio teaching, developed in the 1920s. In the UTS case the Australian Design Centre at Surry Hills was used. This is essentially a gallery for displaying work and would not appear to be ideal as a studio workspace. There is an interesting circular display space with a conical wooden beam roof and ocular. While an inspiring space, the curved walls are painted flat white, whereas white-board paint suitable for writing on. Something like the Inspire Centre University of Canberra, with its white-board paint walls, flexible furniture and movable walls would be better.

Serve City : nteractive urbanismI took part in a similar exercise at University of Sydney architecture faculty in 2002, when I gave a talk on "The Smart Apartment" to a group of students from the New Bauhaus Dessau, who were conducting a planning exercise in Sydney. This was an "interdisciplinary and experimental investigation into the changes in working and living habits brought about by the new information and communication technologies" in Sydney's inner west. From this was produced the book " Serve City : Interactive urbanism" (Sonnabend, 2003).

Both the Bauhaus and UTS books are difficult to find and navigate. The work of the design and architecture disciplines can be hard to understand for outsiders. Architects and designers speak their own technical language, which uses common words with different meanings. Also designers tend to use cryptic diagramming styles without explanatory text.

In this case UTS have well written text, complemented with diagrams. But the font used for the text is small, making it difficult to read. Also the book lacks much in the way of structure, being essentially a series of independent essays. UTS have used the innovation of publishing their book under a open access license, allowing wide distribution, but do not have appear to have made it available in electronic format, thus severely limiting its impact.

Such collaborations could benefit from broadening the range of disciplines involved to improve communication. In particular those from the information disciplines could contribute a more systematic and structured communication style to the process (including accessible information design). This would greatly increase the impact of the work. Otherwise while creative designers may produce interesting work, their lack of ability to communicate that work clearly will impede its dissemination.

The idea of students and staff collaborating on a book to document the work of a class is a useful one. This is a technique which might be applied to the Australian National University's interdisciplinary "Vice-Chancellor's Courses". The ANU has its own ANU ePress, which could publish the books, print on demand, and more importantly in web and eBook formats for wide free on-line distribution.


Schweitzer, J., & Jakovich, J.  (2012). Crowd-share Innovation - Intensive Creative Collaborations (3 ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Freerange Press.

Sonnabend, R. (2003). Serve City : Interactive urbanism. Berlin: Jovis.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Crowd Share Innovation: Intensive Creative Innovations

The book "Crowd Share Innovation: Intensive Creative Innovations" is being launched at a free event this evening at the OBJECT AUSTRALIAN DESIGN CENTRE, Surry Hills, Sydney. The book is the result of a collaboration by the  collective called "Groudbreaker" and UTS u.lab.

At least I think that is what is happening, as it is very hard to tell from their poor quality, slow to respond web sites, which consist mostly of images of text. Where there is readable text, it uses terms such as "industry engagement are infused", which sound impressive but do not communicate much. But I thought I would go along to see if I could find out what this is actually about.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Strategies for managing social media information

The NSW State Records Authority has issued a draft "Strategies for managing social media information" for comment by 15 March 2013. The thirty five page document covers:
  1. Strategies for managing social media information
  2. ... determining what records need to be
  3. How do I capture social media
  4. Some retention and destruction
  5. Frequently asked questions

US Executive Order on Cybersecurity

US President Obama signed a "Presidential Policy Directive -- Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience". Also there is a media release summarizing the Executive Order on Cybersecurity. A similar approach could be adopted by the Australian Government for its Cyber Security Centre, emphasising information sharing and joint work not only between government agencies, but with industry.
Additional roles and responsibilities for the Secretary of Homeland Security include:

1) Identify and prioritize critical infrastructure, considering physical and cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences, in coordination with SSAs and other Federal departments and agencies;
2) Maintain national critical infrastructure centers that shall provide a situational awareness capability that includes integrated, actionable information about emerging trends, imminent threats, and the status of incidents that may impact critical infrastructure;
3) In coordination with SSAs and other Federal departments and agencies, provide analysis, expertise, and other technical assistance to critical infrastructure owners and operators and facilitate access to and exchange of information and intelligence necessary to strengthen the security and resilience of critical infrastructure;
4) Conduct comprehensive assessments of the vulnerabilities of the Nation's critical infrastructure in coordination with the SSAs and in collaboration with SLTT entities and critical infrastructure owners and operators;
5) Coordinate Federal Government responses to significant cyber or physical incidents affecting critical infrastructure consistent with statutory authorities;
6) Support the Attorney General and law enforcement agencies with their responsibilities to investigate and prosecute threats to and attacks against critical infrastructure;
7) Coordinate with and utilize the expertise of SSAs and other appropriate Federal departments and agencies to map geospatially, image, analyze, and sort critical infrastructure by employing commercial satellite and airborne systems, as well as existing capabilities within other departments and agencies; and
8) Report annually on the status of national critical infrastructure efforts as required by statute. ...
From: "Presidential Policy Directive -- Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience", US President Obama, 12 February 2013.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

ICT Education Future Here Now

Greetings from the Great Hall for Parliament House in Canberra, where Prime Minister Julia Gillard,  just officially opened the NICTA "Tech-fest" and announced an agreement between NICTA and Infosys.

Earlier an "ICT Skills Panel" discussed how to get more young people into the ICT industry, what skills they should have and how they are educated. I became a little annoyed that the panelists talked as if there was no progress on ICT skills training and e-learning in Australia. As it happened I was responding to a question from one of my students for the ICT Sustainability course I run on-line at ANU and was sending out a proposal for a new coruse on "Government 2.0 Technology and Techniques".

ICT Futures in Parliament House

Greetings from the Great Hall for Parliament House in Canberra, where NICTA is holding a "Tech-fest" several hundred ICT researchers are standing in front of dozens of displays, explaining the products of their research and how it will benefit Australia. This is very important for an organization which the Australian Government have invested about a billion dollars in. The areas of research range over a wide area from the environment, transport logistics, telecommunication to e-health and e-government.

I actually come to hear from an "ICT Skills Panel", featuring Dr Stuart Feldman, VP Engineering, Google, East Coast, USA at 1:30pm. Apparently the Prime Minister is dropping in for a visit later.

ps: In my view we need to broaden ICT professionals skills and teach ICT Masters Students How to Teach On-line.

Virtual Australian Cyber Security Centre

Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard speaking in the DSD Cyber Security Operations Centre
There are media reports critical of the level of planning and resourcing for the Australian Cyber Security Centre ("Gaps exposed in Australian Cyber Security Centre plan, John Hilvert, IT News,Feb 13, 2013 7:00 AM). However, the Australian Cyber Security Centre at present is a goal, more than a "plan". It may be that the Australian Government is waiting for release of Cyber security measures by the US White House, which are due shortly. It would make sense for Australia to coordinate its efforts with its the USA. One area not sufficiently addressed in Australian announcements so far is coordination with private industry, who operate most of Australia's critical infrastructure. It would be little consolation to Australians to know their government is still functioning after a cyber-attck, if supplies of medicine, food, water and electricity are disrupted. Also there is no need for more than a very small cyber security centre, as telecommunications can be used to securely link existing operations centres. Seconded staff in the central facility can then work with their colleagues in law enforcement, the military, government and industry across Australia and around the world.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ICT Empowering Citizen Engagement

Greetings from the CSIRO Discovery centre in Canberra where Mike Mitchelmore, Acting GM Strategy and Architecture, Department of Human Services (DHS) is speaking on the "Role of strategy and architecture in empowering citizen engagement". This is a meeting of the Australian Computer Society Special Interest Group of Strategy and Architecture. There is DHS Technology Plan 2012-2016 with a strategy of providing as many services for the citizens on-line as possible, preferably via mobile devices. Unfortunately, while there is an outline of the plan in the DHS Annual Report, I was not able to find the plan itself (Australian Government policy requires DHS to publish the report on-line). However, technology features in the "DHS Strategic Plan 2012–16".

DHS was formed from several government agencies which made payments to citizens. So DHS has considerable work to do, consolidating systems. There is also considerable scope for making service delivery better and cheaper, with citizens not having to deal with so many separate government offices.

DHS also has some systems which have 20 year old software running on  Model 204 Database.  DHS is planning to use SAP and Microsoft software. This would appear to me to be a very high risk strategy. The aim of rationalizing and centralizing may not be a good diea in an era of constant change. It is unlikely DHS could rationalize its systems before the next restructuring of government agencies (likely after this year's election) which would require the systems to be split again.

It may be better for DHS to build a set of systems which can work together, but be split apart when required. An alternative approach would be for DHS to build systems which can be used by any government agency, so other agencies could keep using the same systems when functions are administratively transferred.

DHS is building some interesting Apps, which will particularly appeal to university students. But it would be prudent for DHS to also offer an equivalent web application.

Some of DHS plans will provide benefits both for the government and citizens. An example is "tell us once" where citizens can advise just once of changes of address or bank account number for payments.
ACS Strategy and Architecture SIG:
The role of strategy and architecture in empowering citizen engagement ...
The role of strategy and architecture in empowering citizen engagement with government through effective ICT-based systems and services.
The Department of Human Services ( is responsible for the development of service delivery policy and provides access to social, health and other payments and services. It is currently undergoing major changes as part of Service Delivery Reform, which is designed to give Australians better access to social, health and welfare services. The aim is to improve services to meet people’s needs by providing more tailored and intensive support where it is needed most.
Modern and effective use of ICT is crucial to many of the initiatives that the Department is undertaking. Contemporary ICT offers new ways of delivering more attractive and engaging citizen service delivery models. Strategy and architecture plays a pivotal role in providing clear and achievable roadmaps for ICT-supported service delivery.
In this presentation, Mike will talk about the journey DHS is undertaking to move from legacy ICT supporting a traditional service delivery model to one that enables engaging, citizen-centric service delivery.
Biography: Mike Mitchelmore Acting GM Strategy and Architecture Department of Human Services Mike Mitchelmore joined the Department of Human Services (the department) as the National Manager of the Strategic Vendor Management and Sourcing Branch, in February 2012. Mike is currently the Acting General Manager of the Strategy, Architecture and Shared Services Division, within the Chief Information Officer Group. In this role, Mike leads ICT Strategy and Innovation, Architecture Standards, Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Testing and the ICT Software Review Project, on behalf of the department. Previously, Mike was the Chief Information Officer for the Australian Research Council and has held several senior positions at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Mike is a former Army officer and graduate of the Australian Officer Cadet School (Portsea), the Army Command and Staff College (Queenscliff) and the Royal Military College of Science (UK). He holds a Bachelor of Social Science, a Graduate Diploma of Telecommunications Systems Management and a Graduate Diploma of Management Studies. He is a graduate of Army Staff College (psc), and Army Technical Staff College UK (JTC). Mike was awarded the City of London Institute Guild Award for his research into Military Technology.