The Canberra Times

Innovation with the cloud helps governments drive sustained progress

Enabled by cloud technology, digitised government agencies have become better equipped to offer citizen and healthcare services, and support disaster response. Picture supplied.
Enabled by cloud technology, digitised government agencies have become better equipped to offer citizen and healthcare services, and support disaster response. Picture supplied.

This is branded content for Amazon Web Services

The disruption Australia has faced over the past two years has forced governments to rewrite the rulebook on how they serve their citizens.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, and while navigating several natural disasters, public sector organisations across Australia had to act quickly to find digital solutions to everyday challenges to keep citizens safe and support the environment.

Enabled by cloud technology, digitised government agencies became better equipped to offer citizen and healthcare services, and support disaster response, which helped improve and even save lives.

Now, as we transition into the endemic way of living with COVID-19, the lessons we've learned have set the foundation for leaders to drive government digitisation as a priority.

Public sector organisations are looking ahead and seizing opportunities to drive digital transformation to deliver modernised citizen services faster, to meet citizen demands.

Smoothing the path for government to access world-class technology

To digitise at speed and at scale, governments across Australia are taking bold steps to accelerate and simplify the process for public sector agencies to migrate to the cloud and leverage its benefits.

To make this easier, Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently renewed and enhanced their Whole-of-Government Agreement with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), which is designed to continue to support innovation and digital transformation by streamlining purchasing processes for agencies and providing more opportunities to AWS Partners to work with government customers.

The agreement enables Australian Federal, State, and Territory agencies and departments, as well as public universities and government-controlled corporations to access AWS Cloud services through a simple contracting model.

This centralised agreement lets agencies save costs from the day they sign up, due to the economies of scale achieved from the aggregated procurement agreement.

Under the enhanced agreement, AWS's customers continue to receive the benefits of the Whole-of Government Agreement via the DTA, or they can choose to purchase directly from AWS or through authorised partners on the AWS Partner Network.

This will ensure public sector customers in Australia can maintain easy access to AWS' reliable and secure cloud services as well as provide greater choice in how they procure them.

Reducing costs and increasing productivity

According to a Gartner survey, digitally advanced government organisations are able to reap more benefits from higher efficiency, cost reductions, greater workforce productivity, compliance, and transparency.

AWS research shows that their customers in Australia and New Zealand - across commercial and public sectors - who migrated to AWS are seeing an acceleration in innovation, including up to 20 per cent reduction in time-to-market for new features and applications for citizens.

Their customers are also experiencing improved operational efficiency, as a result of a 36 per cent improvement in uptime, and an average 23 per cent reduction in IT costs compared to using on-premises solutions.

The New South Wales Government's Department of Customer Service, which is made up of more than 30 agencies, migrated workloads from its data centre to AWS in just five months with AWS Partner, CMD Solutions.

This is helping improve support for more than eight million citizens with efforts ranging from automating flood mapping with machine learning to scaling its contact tracing app during the pandemic to ten million check-ins recorded every day - while reducing overall costs by 30 per cent.

Enabling security, resilience, and continuity through the cloud

Aside from accelerating the speed and scale of digitisation, leveraging the cloud also ensures security, resilience, and continuity.

This creates a safe and predictable environment for students to learn, employees to work remotely, and citizens to access government services and healthcare.

AWS is highly sensitive to the security needs of its customers in every location in which they operate, and provides world-class infrastructure to customers in Australia, including local data centres to enable a full range of security protections, tools, and services.

When the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ran the national Census in 2021, the Bureau scaled its digital service on AWS to serve forms to over 2.5 million people in a 24-hour period, supporting this unprecedented workload without a glitch.

By using the cloud to ensure that the Census could be conducted safely and efficiently, the Bureau was able to receive 142 online submissions per second at its peak, while blocking out traffic from more than 130,000 malicious IP addresses during the Census period.

More digital skills to support digitisation

With greater digitisation, public sector organisations also need to prioritise digital skills training for their workforce, to unlock the full potential of the cloud.

The recent "Building Skills for the Changing Workforce" report, produced by AWS and AlphaBeta, shows that 3.7 million Australians need to undertake digital skills training within the next year to help Australia keep pace with technological advancements and remain globally competitive.

The report also noted that three of the five most demanded digital skills by 2025 will be cloud-related.

Meeting this increasing demand will require closer collaboration between the public and private sectors to continue investing in education; and accelerating training to meet future needs for skills in cloud computing, machine learning, and other emerging technologies.

We need to move beyond business as usual to create the conditions for success, where skills can be acquired in hours, and credentials can be acquired within days.

Closer collaboration to unlock potential

As societies and communities continue to evolve, organisations of all kinds will need to come together to solve some of the biggest issues we are facing, from helping marginalised communities, to fostering interest in essential careers, to addressing climate change.

While Australia continues to face new challenges, one thing is certain - public and private sector organisations need to work more closely than ever before to find new ways of addressing evolving citizen demands and expectations.

Government digitisation momentum is firmly established. Let's continue working together to drive innovation, paving the way for ongoing progress and growth.

Join the conversation at AWS Canberra Summit, as industry and government unite to innovate and solve some of the biggest challenges facing Australia.

This is branded content for Amazon Web Services