Interview: Brett Barningham, Civica
How has Australia coped with COVID-induced changes to operations and workplaces?
The response varied greatly due to differing levels of investment and preparedness that the organisations had taken. Some were able to pivot quickly and provide operational and citizen support very easily, while others were slower as they had to spend time getting the fundamentals into place to make the necessary changes. Overall, councils have been incredibly supportive of their communities and their staff, navigating what’s been an incredibly difficult period.
Will things go back to a ‘new normal’ in 2022?
At this stage I’m not sure what the ‘new normal’ looks like, and I think it’s going to vary depending on the communities that our local government are serving. One of the key takeaways from the last 18 months is that our organisations need to have higher levels of agility and adaptability, so we can adjust to whatever the new normal might be with greater ease and speed.
What is the major potential tech pain point that will face all organisations large and small in 2022?
Technology is becoming more pervasive and accessible in our communities, both industrial and residential. Local governments need to solve how to interact and leverage the information from increasingly disparate technologies to gain insight on their communities to ultimately make better, data-driven decisions. The technical, security and privacy complexity will continue to grow and be a pain point for many organisations.
How can I.T. have a greater impact on organisational efficiency in 2022, and who (CEOs, CIOs) should lead the charge?
Technology can and is often used as part of a business improvement program, removing complexity and human cost. It can also provide greater access to citizens, and more broadly, community data which can be used for better planning and service delivery. To have the greatest impact requires change throughout an organisation including I.T. — but also includes people and processes, and therefore the vision and the ownership of this type of change should be led by the CEO.
How can I.T. become more environmentally friendly, socially responsible and privacy conscious in 2022?
Transparency and user choice need to be central components of the I.T. solution giving stakeholders the ability to not only consent but also understand the broader use or implications of what they are engaging with.
What’s on your tech wish list from governments, innovators and the wider industry in 2022?
I’d love to see the wider use of edge technology being used in everyday life. It doesn’t have to be a single big tech project — instead I want to see local governments leveraging the tech that the private sector is already using on a daily basis. For example, AI or visual recognition software to help us simplify processes and make fast decisions that deliver better outcomes for our communities.
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