Tuesday, December 01, 2009

ICT Essentials for Government Leaders

The Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders Module Series is a set of training materials provided free by the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communications Technology for Development (UN-APCICT). There are eight modules, each provided as a PDF document of about 100 pages (1Mbyte). The material is under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, so it can be freely used and modified.
  1. The Linkage between ICT Applications and Meaningful Development
  2. ICT for Development Policy, Process and Governance
  3. e-Government Applications
  4. ICT Trends for Government Leaders
  5. Internet Governance
  6. Network and Information Security and Privacy
  7. ICT Project Management in Theory and Practice
  8. Options for Funding ICT for Development

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Defence ICT Strategy

The Australian Department of Defence have issued the "Defence Information and Communications Technology Strategy 2009". This is available as a 64 page (1.5 Mbyte) PDF file. This is very brief and readable for a Defence document, with the executive summary being less than one page.

Also Figure 13 is of interest "ICT Technology Bundling Strategy", which attempts to show the complex systems and networks in one diagram. This shows Deployed, Distributed Computing, Terrestrial Communications, Service desks, the Network Operations Centre, Tactical interfaces, Satellite terminals, Intelligence links, High Frequency Radio, the Internet, PABXs, Applications, mobile services, printers, DRN, DSN, DTSN, Encryptors, phones, the PSTN, Gateways and routers. About all it lacks is the National Boradband Network. Other diagrams are less useful, such as, Figure Eight "An Illustrative view of the Integrated Defence Architecture (IDA)".
Executive Summary

In the current environment, Defence’s information and communications technology (ICT) systems are being challenged more than ever. Australia’s Defence personnel expect to see capability improvements resulting from integrated and network-enabled platforms, administrators expect ICT enhancements to provide business process efficiencies and the ICT threat environment is becoming more hostile.

The ICT strategy has been developed to address shortcomings in governance, planning and control frameworks for ICT. Defence is also establishing clear lines of accountability and transparent management responsibilities at the most senior levels, as well as investing in critically under-funded capabilities to improve its ICT infrastructure.

After wide-spread engagement and consultation across Defence five clear objectives regarding Defence’s future ICT environment were identified. These are:
  • greater ICT scalability, flexibility and adaptability
  • improved information speed and accuracy
  • continued technological capability edge
  • enhanced interoperability
  • improved business support
Achieving those objectives will require strategic reforms, as outlined in the Defence Strategic Reform Program, as well as reform of ICT processes, systems and workforce arrangements. These reforms will enhance Defence’s ability to develop ICT capabilities by allowing stakeholders to prioritise their ICT funding, and will optimise the structure of Defence’s ICT workforce to deliver reliable, high-quality solutions.

To achieve these objectives this strategy is based on four strategic imperatives:
  1. Optimise the value of Defence’s ICT investment through cost transparency, improved stakeholder communication, prioritisation of spend and efficiency in ICT activities.
  2. Drive closer alignment with stakeholders through a stakeholder-centric organisation model, improving engagement and driving towards a collaborative approach to developing ICT capabilities.
  3. Provide agreed, priority solutions through the establishment of a Defence-wide ICT Operating Model and Enterprise Architecture promoting standardisation and consolidation.
  4. Strengthen ICT capabilities through improvements to culture, leadership, processes, skills, sourcing and resource planning.
From: Defence Information and Communications Technology Strategy 2009, 9 November 2009

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Deployable Civilian Capability Disaster Management Software

According to media reports, the Prime Minister announced the creation of an Office of the Deployable Civilian Capability (DCC) within AusAid, at at the East Asia Summit today. This will have a register of up to 500 civilians ready to travel to disaster zones in the region at short notice. The DCC was included in the Government's response to the Australia 2020 Summit and the 2009-10 budget. A small Deployable Civilian Capability Group (DCC) was established in AusAid.
Regional Security - Deployable Civilian Capacity

Establish a deployable public service that will be able to more rapidly and effectively deliver development assistance.

Agree. The Government has agreed to develop a policy framework to enable rapid deployment of civilian experts to assist in international disaster relief, stabilisation and post conflict reconstruction efforts. An inter-agency task force is being led by AusAID to Undertake this work. Once established, a national deployable civilian capacity will allow more rapid and early delivery of stabilisation and recovery assistance to countries that experience conflict or natural disaster. The program reflects many of the ideas discussed at 2020, and also at the Youth Summit, and will be sufficiently adaptable to allow Australia to tailor our response to a particular event or emergency. It will also improve Australia's integration into multilateral reconstruction and stabilisation operations.

From: "Responding to the Australia 2020 Summit", Australian Government, 22 April 2009
AusAID is leading a whole-of-government taskforce to develop a Deployable Civilian Capacity, an idea raised at the Australia 2020 Summit. Once established, a national deployable civilian capacity will enable rapid deployment of civilian experts to provide stabilisation and recovery assistance to countries experiencing conflict, post-conflict situations or natural disaster. In cooperation with other government agencies, AusAID will pre‑identify, train, deploy rapidly and sustain civilian technical expertise. The program will build on Australia's experience of deploying civilian experts in post‑conflict situations, for example in East Timor and Solomon Islands, and improve Australia's integration into multilateral reconstruction and stabilisation operations.

From: Australia's International Development Assistance Program: A Good International Citizen, Budget 2009-10, Australian Government
As part of this I suggest the expansion of the Sahana open source disaster management system and online training.

Sahana was developed for the Boxing Day Tsunami and has been used in several subsequent disasters in Asia. A demonstration of Sahana available online.

Recently two New Zealand councils of issued a request for Expression of Interest for a Information and Communications System for a joint Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for emergency and disaster coordination. In response I suggested that a deployable system housed in a an airline carry-on size wheeled bag. Also I suggest that the Sahana system could be expanded from its disaster management role to cover coordination as well. The Sahana community saw this of interest, but not their core function. However, if the Australian Government provided some modest funding, this could be done.

The Deployable Civilian Capability Group could be equipped with low cost portable computer equipment allowing much more efficient coordinated relief operations. This would also take a load off the military communicators who are usually relied on during disaster operations, but are heavily committed elsewhere.

In addition I suggest using Mentored and Collaborative e-Learning to help train the group. The group members will rarely meet and have little time for face to face training. Using training in online groups will allow an esprit de corps to form, as well as make maximum use of limited resources.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Path to Greener Government

The report "The Path to Greener Government", was launched 2 July 2009 by the UK non-profit group Global Action Plan and Cisco. This reports that most UK public sector ICT managers were not confident about meeting the carbon reduction targets in the UK Government Green ICT Delivery Unit's Greening Government Information Communication Technology (ICT) Strategy. Also reported is that the use of electricity in UK government buildings increased by 3%, with ICT one likely cause.

This has implications for Australia, as the Australian Government ICT strategy is based largely on the UK government approach.The architect of the Australian Government ICT Reform Program is Sir Peter Gershon, from the UK. If the UK strategy is not working , then it is likely the same approach will not reduce Australian Government greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian Government was to release a plan for Green ICT Quick Wins by the end of 2009, but so far there is no documentary evidence of any plan being prepared.

The report is 24 pages of PDF. Here is the executive summary:
Executive Summary


Government is Britain’s largest purchaser of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and when used this equipment is responsible for up to a fi fth of the Government’s carbon emissions - 460,000 tonnes a year1. In total, Government estates spend over £13 billion on ICT annually2. Computer systems are an essential element in the delivery of effective public services, but this delivery may sometimes come at a cost to the environment.

Government recognises the critical importance of ICT not only as a large consumer of energy and primary resources but also as an enabler for environmental and cultural change. Given this level of importance, Central Government has taken a leadership role producing an overarching Greening Government ICT Strategy, developed by the UK Government Green ICT Delivery Unit of the Chief Information Offi cer (CIO) Council. Introducing this strategy, Tom Watson, then Minister for Transformational Government stated:

We want our technology to be effi cient; we want it to be more sustainable and above all we want to be responsible in the way we use it’.

The Greening Government ICT Strategy contains a number of targets and initiatives including the following:

Government has set itself the target of achieving carbon neutrality for all of its Central Government offi ce estates by 2012 with the overarching commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

A Green ICT Delivery group has been established by the CIO Council to increase best practice for informing green ICT.

The CIO Council’s Green ICT SOGE (Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate) Map now obliges every Chief Information Offi cer (CIO) and Chief Technology Offi cer (CTO) to complete a Green ICT Roadmap with 18 steps. On 17th April 2009, the CIO Council formally mandated action on 10 of these proposed 18 steps.

The environmental charity Global Action Plan was commissioned by Cisco to explore how effective the Government’s leadership role has been in creating change across the whole of the public sector. The research consisted of two main elements; interviews undertaken by Global Action Plan with leaders in green ICT, from the public sector, its stakeholders, the private sector and ICT suppliers; and a questionnaire sent out by Computer Weekly specifi cally for this study which generated 173 responses.

Key Research Findings


The leadership role Government is playing in green ICT thinking is widely recognised and praised. The strategy is believed by respondents to be comprehensive and considered.

Last year, Central Government recorded a 3% increase in carbon emissions from electricity use in its buildings, with ICT identified as one of the likely key drivers in this increase.

If Central Government does not speed up the implementation of the strategy it could potentially be adversely hit by its own Carbon Reduction Commitment. Awareness and response to the Government’s Greening ICT strategy

Overall 60% of respondents were not aware of the Government’s Greening ICT Strategy. 41% of national government respondents were not aware of the strategy even though it specifi cally covers their area of activity.

67% of respondents that are aware of the Greening Government ICT Strategy are concerned or extremely concerned that targets contained within the report will be diffi cult to achieve.

70% of respondents feel green ICT is important despite the credit crunch.

According to the survey fi ndings, only 16% of respondents are currently sharing knowledge and learning with other public sector organisations in order to achieve their targets.

Implementation Strategies

Only 20% of responding ICT departments pay for some or all of their organisations’ energy bills for which their ICT is responsible. This does not help to incentivise the introduction of energy effi cient technologies.

Only 13% of respondents calculate the carbon footprint of their ICT activities. This should be baseline data for the development of a green ICT strategy.

Only 22% of respondents have set internal green ICT targets. This suggests that distinct green ICT advances which are being implemented are not part of a wider coherent strategy or that internal communication mechanisms may not be effective.

39% of respondents are not aware of the percentage utilisation of their server estate which is important baseline data in the development of a green data centre strategy. Implementation of specifi c initiatives

Take-up of server optimisation, decommissioning idle server equipment and reusing equipment is high (between 59%-69% implementation across all respondents). There are lower implementation levels around server virtualisation, ambient room temperature initiatives and undertaking a data centre layout audit.

44% of respondents have changed replacement procedures in order to extend the lifecycle of equipment.

A high level of respondents have implemented initiatives around shutdown of PCs when out of hours, reuse of PCs and not over-specifying equipment (between 59%-75%). Lower levels of implementation were reported for time switches on non-network equipment and reducing PC and laptop numbers.

There is a consistently reasonable level of implementation around greener printing initiatives with take-up ranging from 53-64%.

The majority of green ICT initiatives focus on reducing the impact of ICT directly e.g. switching off and reducing printing, rather than initiatives using ICT proactively to generate environmental savings in other organisational activities e.g. travel. For example, there was low implementation of initiatives to promote fl exible working (TelePresence/video conferencing etc.) to reduce travel and to enable smarter use of energy in buildings.

Future support required

Respondents identifi ed three areas where they need more support from Central Government:

1. Clearer evidence of the benefi ts of green ICT and how it can help public sector bodies.

2. A green ICT capital investment fund to enable public sector bodies to invest in green ICT technology solutions.

3. More internal leadership and direction.



Government is to be congratulated on the proactive leadership role it has undertaken with its Champions Chris Chant and Catalina McGregor as well as the wider CIO/CTO Council for developing a Green ICT Strategy.

The implementation of this strategy needs to be accelerated if Government is to hit its carbon targets and to ensure that public sector services are not adversely hit by the Carbon

Reduction Commitment.

Government should consider how it can better use its procurement weight to drive change across the wider ICT sector, leading to more effi cient technologies.

Government should adopt the targets set in the Strategy for the wider public sector outside of the CIO Council structure, including Local Government.

The CIO/CTO Council Green ICT Delivery Unit is a part time, voluntary body. Government should look to establish dedicated posts from within this experienced group to ensure implementation of the Strategy is accelerated and completed by the most informed minds in the sector.


Government and CIOs in particular should consider creating a stronger communications strategy to ensure that the Green ICT Strategy and its deliverables better reach Central Government Departments, Executive Agencies and wider public sector organisations.

It remains unclear what exact CO2 savings can be achieved by delivering the 18 steps in the Strategy and Government must look to provide more concrete fi gures, indicative metrics and methods for public sector bodies to measure their own ICT related carbon emissions.

Strategic support

Government should encourage public sector organisations to place their green ICT initiatives within a coherent overall strategy, which links to each organisation’s sustainability strategy.

This strategy needs to ensure that internal targets are set and that essential baseline data is collected (such as a scorecard). Data should include carbon footprints and the energy costs of running and cooling ICT.

Green ICT targets should be incorporated within Government’s current SOGE target structure to ensure a coherent picture is provided to the public.

Implementation support

Public sector organisations are concerned about hitting green ICT targets and need support. Government should consider how best it can demonstrate the positive impact green ICT initiatives may have by promoting transparency and case studies, increasing collaborative working possibly through knowledge transfer networks and establishing a green ICT stimulus package.

Government should consider how it can better incentivise green ICT initiatives that can create environmental savings in other areas e.g. employee travel, as implementation of this type of initiative is currently low according to the survey results. ...

"The Path to Greener Government", Global Action Plan and Cisco, 2 July 2009

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Helping Managers Achieve Value from ICT

Diagram showing the six guidelines of the Victorian Government Investment Management StandardLast night Peter Outteridge presented a Seminar on Achieving Value from ICT at the ACS Canberra Branch. This was based on a study sponsored by the federal government and conducted by the ANU and company Opticon Australia in 2005. Peter argued that this overlooked study had valuable lessons for helping ICT professionals assist their clients to get maximum benefit from ICT. The full text of the study is available online, along with an accompanying Achieving Value Booklet and the dataset for additional analysis.
Peter warned at the beginning that there would be nothing new for experienced ICT professionals in the talk. But what was new was having one's experience of the value of properly worked out business cases and project management confirmed by careful, detailed empirical analysis. However, what was missing was some idea of where to go from here to have these things implemented widely: if project management is clearly essential to getting value from projects, then why isn't it happening? What do we need to do to make it happen?

One concern I have is that ICT professionals may be expecting too much from the non-techncial managers of their clinet organsiations. The average manager has not been trained in the type of rigirous project management processesd which ICT professionals are. It may be too much to expect them to know how to look after such a project. Perhaps the average company or government agency should simply not do ICT development, and instead only purchase off the shelf, pre-proven hardware and software.

As a bonus at the end Petertalked about the development of the Leo computer, by the Lyons catering company. He humeriously described this as the first example of a vertically integrated computer business applciaiton and outsorucig company. Lyons build their own computer, modelled on Cambridg University's EDSAC and programmed it for oders in a call center and payroll. This was so succesful the company undetook payroll processing for other companies. But this was an exceptional company and I don't think the average organisation today should be doing software development, let alone hardware design. ;-)

Peter also recommended the Investment Management Standard (Victorian Government). However, even here, while the step by step process seems logical and simple enough, this is not an easy task. By making this look easy, this may well lead organisations into difficulty development processes. In many cases ICT will get the blame when the project goes wrong, even though it was a failure of management, not of technology. A case in point is Victoria's troubled Myki transport smartcard project. Like Sydney's failed transport smartcard, the problems are not with the technology but the business model built into the project.

Achieving Value from ICT: key management strategies (April 2005)
While there’s clear evidence that information and communications technology (ICT) can substantially improve firm productivity and performance, it’s wrong to assume that the introduction of a new technology alone is sufficient to provide these benefits. Organisations gain the greatest productivity and other benefits from ICT when it is accompanied by complementary management practices and strategies. This was demonstrated through research based on a survey of 1050 firms from 15 industry categories. Achieving Value from ICT: key management strategies examines the types of benefits organisations gain from the use of ICT and the management and organisational strategies that accompany effective ICT use.

The This link opens a documentAchieving value dataset (File format: ZIP, File size: 319Kb) from the survey of ICT use in organisations that formed the basis of the Achieving Value report is freely available for fair use by researchers provided the results of any further analysis are shared with DCITA. An accompanying Achieving Value Booklet (File size: 356Kb) is also available.

From: Firm level studies on the influence of ICT on Australian productivity growth, DCITA Archive website, 5 February 2008

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Draft Australian Standard for Corporate governance of projects involving information technology investments

The Draft Australian Standard for "Corporate governance of projects involving information technology investments"is now available free for comment. The standard references works such as Good governance principles, and software engineering standards. It makes a bit of an understatement saying "The historical record of IT project delivery success has been poor." Much of the cause of the failures of those pojects have been due to management issue and poor governance rather than technical problems. Perhaps this standard can help.

One problem is that the standard will have only limited distribution as it will not be open access. Standards Australia and the publishing company SAI Global (SAI) are having a dispute over the distribution rights for Australian Standards. It would be prudent for anyone wanting to take part in development of a standard to check that rights under a Creative Commons licence, or similar, are agreed before work commences. In this way the full text of the standard can be made available online for free, while the standards body can still commercially exploit the work. A good example of this is the ODF standard, which
ISO sell for 342 Swiss Francs, (about $AU352), while the developers, OASIS, make available for free. This arrangement allows those who need the official document to purchase it and everyone else to use the free text.
The Standard was prepared by Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand Committee IT-030, IT Governance and Management.

The objective of this Standard is to promote a substantial improvement in success in achieving business outcomes from business projects that involve investment in new or changed IT capabilities. To achieve this the Standard proposes a framework of principles to owners and directors, to senior managers, and to project managers charged with responsibility for governance of information technology [IT] projects.

This Standard is intended to contribute to the improvement of the success rate for IT projects. Such projects are important to organizations because they are the means to deliver business change and thus to deliver value in terms of competitive advantage and business benefits within defined timeframes. The need for effective governance of projects is
important to the organization.

This Standard elaborates on the set of principles and framework in AS 8015—2005, Corporate governance of information and communication technology.

The historical record of IT project delivery success has been poor. There is a substantial body of both anecdotal and rigorously developed evidence that organizations investing in information and communication technology in support of their business activities face disproportionate and unacceptable risk that their projects will fail to achieve intended outcomes at an acceptable cost, in an appropriate timeframe.

Many assessments of IT investments that have not produced satisfactory outcomes demonstrate that the seeds of failure were present and evident at a very early stage (sometimes before the project was started and approved), and that inadequate oversight resulted in otherwise clear symptoms of trouble being overlooked.

The governance of projects involving IT investment is a component of Corporate governance of IT since projects are necessary at all levels for business to achieve strategic and operational objectives while also generating clear corporate risks in case of failure.

The Standard does not prescribe or define the management practices required for projects, since they are already well defined in other sources. It is a governance responsibility to ensure that these are in place within the organization. ...


1.1 SCOPE ......... 4
1.4 REFERENCES ... 6

2.1 PRINCIPLES ... 9

3.1 GENERAL ... 14


From: Corporate governance of projects involving information technology investments. DR08145.doc - 26/06/2008 9:54:36

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Malaysia, Turkey and Greece - Technology and Travel

From mid May to June 2008 I traveled to Malaysia, Turkey and Greece. Highlights were a nighttime train from Greece to Turkey, ferries to the Greek Islands, opera at the Athens Acropolis, attending a Greek wedding and visiting the new Istanbul Museum of The History of Science and Technology in Islam. This was mostly for a holiday, but along the way I attended a corporate governance conference in Malaysia, presented at the World Congress on Information Technology, looked at ICT Education in Malaysia and gave a seminar on how to set up the Tsunami warning system for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Other travelogues:


Asia and Pacific

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Corporate Governance in Malaysia

This week I attended the Malaysian Corporate Governance Conference at the Securities Commission, Kuala Lumpur, 15 - 16 May 2008. The conference was organized by the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute. These are some impressions from the first day of the conference, format, topics, venue and business in Malaysia.

Format of a Malaysian Conference

A business conference in Malaysia seems to have much the same format as in Australia, but with some of the elements of the one I attended in China. There was more formality with the opening of the program than usual in Australia, the dignitaries being introduced and presented with gifts. There was a generous amount of time in breaks to meet people and the conference organizers spent a lot of time introducing people to each other, which made for a more interactive event than many Australian conferences.

As well as a lectern on the stage there were two comfy arm chairs and coffee table. Each session started and ended with the moderator and speaker sitting down, which made for a more comfortable atmosphere.

Opening Address: CEO Malaysian stock exchange

The conference keynote address was by Yang Berbahagia Dato' Yusli Mohamed Yusoff, Chief Executive Officer, Bursa Malaysia (the Malaysian Stock Exchange, previously the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, KLSE, or Bursa Saham Kuala Lumpur ). Like Australia, the Malaysian stock exchange is a non-government entity, with some regulatory functions delegated from Parliament. Malaysia introduced new governance rules in late 2007, so governance is topical.

The Bursa Malaysia CEO said there was more room for reform in governance by Malaysian companies and they needed to do more than just comply with the rules. He addressed the need for leadership in companies, with accountable and prudent governance in the interests of shareholders, in response to scandals in companies. The board of directors of listed companies are charged with safeguarding the assets of the company. The primary market focus of the stock exchange is to maintain good governance to encourage investment. He said the most important tool was to create a corporate culture for accountable conduct without reducing the need for risk taking. Investors are looking to invest in companies with ethical business practices.

The CEO also mentioned environmental and sustainability issues as ones which make business sense, with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Two years ago Bursa Malaysia produced a CSR Framework for Malaysian PLCs, at the time the government included a requirement for CSR reporting by companies.

This year the role of auditors is being reviewed. The stock exchange has its own guidelines for audit oversight.

The CEO also addressed the need for global standards. In January 2007 corporate governance requirements were changed to require a corporate audit committee.

Having the stock exchange chief at the conference was a high honour for the conference delegates. After his address there was a media scrum with the CEO outside the door.

The Venue: Securities Commission Building

Malaysia Securities Commission HeadquartersThe conference was held in the headquarters of the Malaysian Securities Commission. This is a showcase high technology building by Hijjas Kasturi Associates (construction management by Bovis Lend Lease) is a parkland setting.

False floor Access Floor SystemOne feature of the building is underfloor air distribution, using Cementitious Infill Steel Access Flooring. A false floor is used for the air conditioning and also cables for power and data.

One logistical problem I had was the lack of espresso coffee. I wandered downstairs to the Securities Commission cafeteria, but they did not have any. On the way I noticed that as well as impressive conference rooms, the SC also had a fully equipped video conference facility, called the "Dialogue Room" (there is a video of the room online):
The Dialogue Room situated at the Lower Ground Level 1(LG1) has a seating capacity of 44. The room set-up is ideal for press conferences, small group training, board meetings as well as discussions. The room has a U-shape seating arrangement and each seat is equipped with a touch-panel console for a microphone and a voting system.

From: SC BUILDING Conference Facilities, Malaysia Securities Commission, 2007
One interesting inclusion in the building are day rooms, in the lower level:
Guest Day Rooms These air-conditioned rooms situated at the Lower Ground Level 2 (LG2) are specially built for guests and are supplied with double beds, bathrooms with showers, as well as telephones. These facilities are for guests to freshen-up before their sessions.
Conference sessions for day one


Moderator: Mr Puvan J. Selvanathan, Executive Director, Caux Round Table Malaysia
Speaker: Yang Mulia Tunku Abdul Aziz, President, Caux Round Table Malaysia, Former Special Advisor on Ethics to the UN Secretary General
  • What are the growing trends in corporate governance in global economies?
  • What are the detrimental factors to the sustainability of businesses in global emerging economies?
  • What do companies in developed economies do to create sustainability? What can Malaysian companies learn from them?
  • Does size matter? Does sustainability differ from a large multinational company to a small company?
  • What do Malaysian companies need to leverage on to create sustainable growth in global businesses?
The Caux Round Table is a body I had not previously heard of. My understanding is that it is a non-government body formed in response to problems of corruption in business, to foster more ethical practices internationally with moral and responsible capitalism. Caux Round Table currently do not have an Australian branch, although there are some Australians involved internationally.

Yang Mulia Tunku Abdul Aziz reminded the audience that is is ten years since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. He criticized the misuse of "Asian values" as a cover for corruption, saying that values such as respect for elders should not prevent questions being asked about the actions of corporations.

Puvan J. Selvanathan looked at the details as used in Caux Round Table projects, concentrating on sustainability. Unfortunately he did not define what he meant by "sustainability" (nor did other speakers at the conference). In Australia, this term is currently used almost exclusively to refer to environmental sustainability, but in Malaysia seemed to be referring to social and business issues as well.

Puvan argued that corporations needed to move to an "involve me" model, with shareholders actively involved, not just observers. He then mentioned Corporate social responsibility (CSR), which seems to be a hot topic in Malaysia. He argued that lack of CSR can result in very negative publicity and good corporate governance is a risk mitigation strategy.

Cover of Profit for Life: How Capitalism Excels by Joseph H. BragdonJay Bragdon's 2007 book "Profit for Life", was cited emphasizing companies stewardship of resources. He argued that this "hyppie" language was coming back into vogue for business. He then quoted Porter in the Harvard Business review on companies needing a healthy society. Cannon was given as an example of the Japanese concept of "Kyosei" with companies acting responsibly.

However following the new Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd's emphasis on evidence-based policy , is there evidence to support these claims for CSR? While it might be good in the long term for socially for companies to act ethically, doesn't the evidence show that in the sort term they can make such large profits by acting unethically that this outweighs the risks?

In response to a question about this Tunku argued that there was a need to ask hard questions about the actions of senior people, even if this causes some embarrassment. He used the example of the former Secretary General of the UN setting up a foundation for humanitarian purposes, with prizes given. Even though the funds were given for, and to be used for, humanitarian purposes there were ethical issues as the funds were not to be used through the UN. Puvan advocated using a code of ethics, using the example of that for architects (he is by training an architect). This seems to be essentially the same issue as ethics for ICT professionals. The Malaysian 2020 plan also got a mention from one of the questioners at question time (an interesting comparison could be drawn with the Australian 2020 Summit).

See also Books:
Corporate governance
Technology and Corporate Governance
Leadership in corporate governance
Audit and Corporate Governance
Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Shareholder Activism

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Friday, May 02, 2008

ICT Ethics in the Workplace

Greetings from the last day of the ET GOVICT2008 conference. Mr. Mark Haughey CIO, Workplace Authority, talked on "The Uncertainty of Ethics in IT". Mark brought the conference back to reality by discussing his experience as an IT professional in the public service. He emphasized value for money and planning. I asked him he thought ICT professionals have an ethical responsibility for reducing greenhouse emission through reducing energy use. He responded that this was also a practical problem with high power servers upsetting building air conditioning by creating hotspots. Idris Sulaiman from Computers Off, pointed out there were some new guidelines on this.

Ms. Cecilia Ridgley School of Information Technology and Electrical
Engineering UNSW@ADFA, ICT Advisory Services, KPMG Canberra talked about "The Decision Disconnect - Ethics and ICT Governance". Cecilla put the ICT Governance AS8015 in the business context. She talked about the difference between hard hierarchal crystal organization structures and fluid amoebic structures.
Language, learning and leadership can be used for governance.

Dr. Daryl Macer, Regional Adviser, Regional Unit for Social and Human
Sciences (RUSHAP) in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO, challenged our ideas of who and what ethics apply to. He used examples from science fiction, such as HAL and Japanese comic books, such as Astro Boy.
Dr. Macer related infoethics to bioethics, suggesting the work on ethics in medicine, such as the "Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and on Human Rights", could be largely applied to information technology ethics. He also mentioned the "Ethics of Energy Technologies in Asia and the Pacific Project". Unfortunately I couldn't find a web site for the project, if someone could point this out, that would be good.

Phillip N. Argy, Deputy Chairman – ACS Foundation, Chief Executive – ArgyStar.com, talked on "Trusted vs. Trustworthy – how professionalism bridges the ethics gap". He cited a software problem which caused a Boeing 777 flight out of Perth to turn back. Philip is one of the WIPO arbitrators and one of his cases I noticed was on ownership of "The Wiggles" web address.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Justice Kirby on Regulating Technology

Greetings from the evening session of ET GOVICT2008 conference. The speaker is Justice Michael Kirby, High Court of Australia on The Challenge of Regulating Contemporary Technology. He started by addressing the issue of HIV/Aids. He argued you can't simply regulate on a technical level, separate from culture and this applies to ICT. Justice Kirby commented that most lawyers are not interested in technology and science. He has been involved in bioethics with UNESCO , TELOS at the University of London. He also cited Roger Brownsword's new book Rights, Regulation, and the Technological Revolution.

He then discussed the different viewpoints on privacy issues between Europeans and and Americans in the OECD Principles for the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data. He argued that consensus is possible, even in such contentious issues. One problem with such principles he pointed out is that not long after the principles were defined, along came networked public computer systems making data widely available with few limits. The technology moves fast and principles need to keep up. He quoted from Roger Brownsword's book on the relative priorities of regulation of different technologies.

I asked the Justice how Australian lawyers would cope with the type of online arbitration process used by WIPO. He joked that this might be a job for him next year when he retires from the bench and more seriously commented that lawyers should look to technology to help with processes but some serendipity may be lost in the process. One example of a happy accident he mentioned was that research on disease in monkeys had lead to an AIDS vaccine (the recent failure of a trial of the vaccine did not diminish from the value of the attempt).

There is a transcript and video of a talk by Justice Kirby to the IIA in February when he covered some of the same issues.

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Embedding Ethics as Deliberative Acts in Software Development

The afternoon session of the 2008 conference on the ethical governance of ICT, in Canberra got down to the details of teaching ethics to ICT people. Associate Professor Craig McDonald, talked about how ethics is included in ICT courses at the University of Canberra by embedding ethics as deliberative acts in software development. I wondered if this was just using software engineering terms to make ICT people feel more comfortable with ethics.

I had to look up
"deliberative", to see the meaning; the best I could find was: "A discourse in which a question is discussed, or weighed and examined". An example of its use is in Deliberative democracy. Craig then went on to discuss "Governance", using the example of the "governor" on a steam engine. He then contrasted the CPA's model of governance, which said it was something done at upper levels of the organization and argued that it is done at all levels.

Craig argued that organizations should be designed so that people can exercise appropriate governance at all level in the organization. This worried me as it would provide an excuse for an ICT professional to say that they were not responsible for their actions because their organization did not give them that decision making ability.

However, since the
Nuremberg Trials in 1945, it has been established that professionals, such as doctors, are not absolved for criminal actions simply because they were following orders. An extreme case of this, which I have used in teaching ethics to ICT students is Tsunami warning systems. The failure of "Life-critical systems" which could result in millions of deaths may result and could result in the ICT professionals at fault being charged with crimes against humanity.

Next is Ms Marghanita da Cruz, Principal Consultant Ramin Communications Pty Ltd
(ramin.com.au) on "No duty of Care: the Governance of ICT". This discussed the Austrlaian Standrad AS8015 "ICT Governance", which
Marghanita described as being about "telling non-ICT people what to do" and "taking IT into a business context". She suggested that such standards should encourage ICT people to say what can be done, rather than what can't be done.

Professor Shirley Gregor, Director National Centre for Information Systems Research at ANU discussed Ethics education of ICT professionals. Shirley is also responsible for the ACS's Body of Knowledge (BOK), which sets down what should be in university courses in ICT. She pointed out that ethics is one of the few parts of the BOK which is mandatory for all universities to include in their courses. We then went around the room discussing the practicalities of how to instill value sets, make it credible, practical, without imposing personal value systems.

One interesting point is that Professor Gregor pointed out that IT people, and males in particular, may have a different view of ethics to the rest of the population. She posited that Kohlberg's stages of moral development were developed based on research exclusively with males. Perhaps ICT should recruit more females to have a more ethical profession. ;-)

Professor Gregor asked how students are taught ethics in practice. It turns out that I teach some of her students ethics, in ANU computer science courses:
With these ethics are incorporated in computer courses, use ACS and other professional bodies codes as examples, and use the results of ACS/ARC/CAPPE ethics research.

David Lindley, Academic Principal, ACS Education, Australian
Computer Society discussed Educating for Professionalism. The ACS is looking to use the
Skills Framework for the Information Age ( SOFIA ).

The last presentation was by
Mr. Neville Holmes, University of Tasmania on An Ethical Imperative for the Computing Profession. Neville writes entertainingly provocative and thought provoking columns in IEEE Computer magazine. In his presentation he emphasized the human and multidisciplinary aspects of the computing profession. He argued that he preferred reading Jane Austin, the book, rather than the BBC TV adaption (I preferred Joe Wright's adaption of Pride and Prejudice). Mores seriously I was not convinced of this argument, as a book is just a form of information technology which is so old it seems natural, but it is not, it places machinery between the author and the reader. In the extreme case it is now not possible to distinguish between human written text and that generated by computers.

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Professional Bodies and ICT Governance

Greetings from the ET GOVICT2008 conference on the ethical governance of ICT, in Canberra. John Ridge, Executive Director of the ACS Foundation, gave the opening address. This two day conference is on at University House, Australian National University, 1 - 2 May 2008. Anyone can come along, pay the modest fee and join in.

The conference has researchers and practitioners looking at ethical governance, governance of ethics, of Information and Communication Technology, and the role of professional bodies.

John has started by raising the issue of qualifications and the difference between a practitioner and a professional. He cited the new book:
Ethics in ICT: An Australian Perspective. McDermid, D. C. (2003)
Pearson Educational: Melbourne. He points out that the ACS meets most of the requirements which McDermid lists. He argues that ICT is not ready to have the next logical step, which is registration. He also asserts that ICT people do not value being part of being a profession. He lamented that the take-up rate of initiatives such as ACS's certification program.

Professor Don Gotterbarn argued that discussion of professionalism of ICT was the "same old same old". He went through the history of ethics and professional codes in the USA and UK, relating this to the Australian situation.

Dr. Richard Lucas reported research on what Australian ICT people actually thought of ethics and codes. This is a refreshing and revolutionary approach to the issue. Rather than theorize about what might work, CAPPE has collected actual quantitative evidence about what people will accept. This is not a new idea in other fields, for example to see if consumers can tell one brand of car from another, a group of them are asked. In retrospect, it seems to do the same with professional conduct.

Some later topics:

Keynote Speakers are Professor Simon Rogerson, Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, DeMontfort University, UK and Professor Don Gotterbarn, Software Engineering Ethics Research Institute, East Tennessee State University - ICT Governance and What to Do About the Toothless Tiger(s): Professional Organisations and Codes of Ethics.

The Conference is sponsored by The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, The Australian Computer Society, ARC Governance Research Network, The Australian National University, Charles Sturt University and UNESCO.

1-2 May 2008
List of Presenters
Name Title and Association Title of Paper
John Ridge ACS Foundation Opening Address

Justice Michael Kirby AC

High Court of Australia The Challenge of Regulating Contemporary Technology

Professor Don Gotterbarn Director, Software Engineering Ethics Research Institute,
East Tennessee State University
ICT Governance and what to do about the toothless tiger(s): Professional
Organizations and Codes of Ethics

Professor Simon Rogerson Director, Centre for Computing and Social
Responsibility, De Montfort University, UK The Role of Governance in Sensitising ICT Development

1 Mr. Mark Haughey CIO, Workplace Authority The Uncertainty of Ethics in IT

2 Professor Shirley Gregor ANU Endowed Chair in Information Systems, Director
National Centre for Information Systems Research,
School of Accounting and Business Information Systems,
Ethics education of ICT professionals

3 Ms. Cecilia Ridgley School of Information Technology and Electrical
Engineering UNSW@ADFA,
ICT Advisory Services, KPMG Canberra
The Decision Disconnect - Ethics and ICT Governance

4 Dr. Daryl Macer Regional Adviser, Regional Unit for Social and Human
Sciences (RUSHAP) in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO
Office in Bangkok
The relationship of IT ethics and governance to the broader conduct and ethics of science and technology

5 Phillip N. Argy
Immediate Past President – Australian Computer Society
Deputy Chairman – ACS Foundation
Chief Executive – ArgyStar.com
Trusted vs. Trustworthy – how professionalism bridges the ethics gap

6 Professor John Weckert
Dr. Richard Lucas
Research Fellow, CAPPE, ANU
Professorial Fellow, CAPPE, CSU Ethics and Regulation in the ICT Industry 2007 Survey: An Overview

7 David Lindley Ph.D.
Academic Principal, ACS Education, Australian
Computer Society
Manager: Professional Standards & Development
Australian Computer Society
Educating for Professionalism: An ACS Perspective

8 Ms Marghanita da Cruz
Principal Consultant Ramin Communications Pty Ltd
(ramin.com.au) No duty of Care: the Governance of ICT

9 Sheryle Moon CEO, AIIA Ethics and ICT Governance from an industry perspective

10 Associate Professor Craig McDonald
University of Canberra Ethics by Design: embedding ethics in ICT Governance

11 Clive V. Boughton Australian National University - Education and Research
of Software Engineering Practices,
Senior Member of ACS,
Committee Member on Certification for Australian
Safety Critical Systems Association (aSCSa),
Member ACM,
Member IEEE-CS
What IS an ICT professional anyway?

12 Mr. Neville Holmes University of Tasmania An Ethical Imperative for the Computing Profession

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ICT Governance and Ethics Conference

A Conference on the Ethical Governance of ICT and the Role of Professional Bodies is 1-2 May 2008 in Canberra. This will feature the research funded by the Australian Computer Society, which I have used in my lectures on ICT ethics at ANU.
A Conference on the Ethical Governance of ICT and the Role of Professional Bodies
1-2 May 2008
held at
University House, Australian National University

This is a two day conference that will examine issues related to the ethical governance, governance of ethics, of Information and Communication Technology, and the role of professional bodies.

The conference will cover issues related to – the governance of ICT in particular, the industry as a whole, industry businesses, ICT within organisations, ICT projects, and ICT professional bodies.
Individual topics may include:

  • licensing and accreditation of ICT professionals,
  • education of ICT professionals,
  • governance of policies and procedures concerning ethics in the ICT industry,
  • the ethical content of standards, methodologies, and processes used by the ICT industry,
  • the place of government regulations, and
  • the role of professional organisations.
The opening address will be given by John Ridge the Executive Director and inaugural Chairman of the ACS Foundation.

The keynote speakers are:
  • Prof. Simon Rogerson the Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at DeMontfort University in the UK who will speak on The role of governance in sensitising ICT development and
  • Prof. Don Gotterbarn of the Software Engineering Ethics Research Institute at East Tennessee State University who will speak on Ict Governance and What to Do About the Toothless Tiger(s): Professional Organisations and Codes of Ethics.
For more information concerning the conference contact: Dr. Richard Lucas – Richard.Lucas@anu.edu.au or Professor John Weckert – jweckert@csu.edu.au

Registration Details

For enquiries about registration and related matters contact

Andrew Long – Andrew.Long@anu.edu.au

Cost: There is a nominal conference registration fee of AU$50 to cover morning/afternoon tea and lunch.

Register By Date: 16 April 2008

The conference is generously supported by: The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, the Australian Computer Society, ARC Governance Research Network, the Australian National University, and UNESCO.

From: Ethical Governance of ICT and the Role of Professional Bodies, CAPPE, 2008

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

ICT Governance

Ian Hirst talked about "IT Governance Principles and Issues" at the ACS Canberra Conference. He went through with the audience what governance was, why we need it, issues, principles and success factors. But I am still uncomfortable with the term "governance", as in many cases it is used as a substitute for "project management". Governance seems to have been appropriated by business from government.

One interesting point Ian made is that the Australian ICT Governance standard (AS8015-2005) has been selected by ISO to fast track as the international standard. There is a slight disconnect with this work as the ICT governance standard comes from the ICT area, and was in advance of and separate from more general governance standards.

Oganisations of all types and sizes are challenged when they consider, plan and decide on IT investments. Decisions that have significant risks or rewards need to be well informed, well thought through and well implemented. Governance structures are a means for making effective evaluation, selection and monitoring of significant investments and commitments. This breakout session will be a guided discussion of governance covering the following key items ...


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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Australian GeoNetwork Developers Group

Geoscience Australia BuildingOn 1 August 2007 I attended the initial meeting of the Australian GeoNetwork Developers Group at the impressive Geoscience Australia (GA) green building in Canberra. These are my notes from the meeting (not official minutes). The GA building is worth visiting, even if you are not having a meeting.

Geoscience Australia

... Geoscience Australia plays a critical role by producing first-class geoscientific information and knowledge. This can enable the government and the community to make informed decisions about the exploration of resources, the management of the environment, the safety of critical infrastructure and the resultant wellbeing of all Australians.

From: About us, Geoscience Australia, 2007

Library courtyard in the Geoscience Australia BuildingGA have a public exhibition of minerals and seismic instruments, as well as a map shop (which also sells polished rocks) and a library and cafe, which the public is welcome to use. This is well worth a visit for tourists. Also they are having an open day 26 August 2007.

Geoscience Australia provides part of the Australian Tsunami Warning System (such systems haven't had all the bugs shaken out of them yet). GA also acquire seismic and other mapping data to help with mineral exploration, natural resource use and are looking to provide access to it via the internet, which is why they were hosting the meeting.

Office of Spatial Data Management

The meeting was called by Ben Searle, General Manager, Office of Spatial Data Management in Geoscience Australia, which looks after Government mapping policy:
The role of the Office of Spatial Data Management (OSDM) is to:
  • provide administrative support to the Spatial Data Policy Executive (SDPE) and the Spatial Data Management Group (SDMG);
  • implement the workplan and manage the working groups established by SDMG;
  • facilitate sharing of experience and expertise between Australian Government agencies;
  • provide technical advice to the SDMG;
  • promote efficient use of Australian Government spatial data assets;
  • represent the Australian Government's interests in spatial data coordination and access arrangements with the States and Territories; and
  • foster the development of a private sector spatial information industry.
From: About OSDM, Office of Spatial Data Management, Geoscience Australia, 25 Jan 2006
Australian GeoNetwork Developers Group

There were about 20 people present at the meeting in the Geoscience's Scrivener Room (the room has a wavy ceiling which improves the acoustics, but the computer controlled daylight adjusting lights were distracting). This was scheduled to start at 9:30am, but I was 20 minutes late, just as Ben was finishing the introductions. Here is the agenda annotated with my notes:


1. Introduction, Ben Searle.

2. Overview of Meeting objectives, Ben Searle: Ben suggested the need for both companies and researchers to be involved. He suggested that open source should be used and that Australia needed to work with international standards.

This what was on the agenda as Possible Meeting Objectives:
  • Establish a management mechanism - Terms of Reference?
  • Agree on a ‘single point of contact’
  • Determine who wants what and who can contribute resources
  • Establish short and long term needs
  • Determine need for a technical meeting
  • Identify the User Community
  • Identify possible software developers
  • Agree on open source principles
  • Identify possible resources
Much of what was discussed in the meeting was geospatial specific and my only experience of that was helping with the Sentinel fire tracking system. (including an experimental alternative web interface designed for mobile phones).

3. Overview of GeoNetwork application, Kate Roberts: Kate talked about the BlueNet MEST project:

The BlueNet project will establish a national distributed marine science data network linking universities to the AODC, to support the long term data curation requirements, and data access needs of Australia’s marine science researchers.

BlueNet will build infrastructure to enable the discovery, access and online integration of multi-disciplinary marine science data on a very large scale, to support current and future marine science and climate change research, ecosystem management and government decision making. ...

From: BlueNet, University of Tasmania, 2007

OCHA Maps-On-Demand

BlueNet are using the GeoNetwork open source software. Their system is up and running but most records are not yet available to the public. However, the system has a similar interface to other GeoNetwork implementations, such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' (OCHA) "Maps-On-Demand".

Kate mentioned ISO 19115, the Geographic Information Metadata standard from ISO , the Z39.50 protocol and problems with security got a mention (LDAP seen as the solution). Problems with flexibility of the software for handling XML data and IP of different data sets (including provision for Creative Commons). ePrints also was mentioned. Many of these issues were familiar, particularly how to share information while retaining the owner's rights.

Kate then gave a demo. Unfortunately the text was so small I could not read any of it, apart from the logo on the top of the screen. Perhaps UTAS needs an web accessibilty course.

One question asked was how to use the thumbnail images on the right side of the screen. At first these seemed to be purely decorative and so the issue did not seem relevant. But on the next screen it turned out that this was where on the screen commands were displayed.

The term "clone" was used to indicate "copy". This was confusing and also is potentially emotionally loaded for the general public, with the debate over human cloning.

A very complex nested metadata form was then shown. This could be useful for metadata experts (and the students I teach metadata to), but will be unusable for the average user. A simpler web search type interface is needed.

My only quibble with the technical standards is that
GeoNetwork use of Z39.50 is a bit dated (and something only a librarian could love). Web Services would be a better idea. However, Z39.50 might be needed to interoperate with other repositories.

The OakLaw project (
Open Access to Knowledge or OAKL), got a mention as they are looking at adapting Creative Commons for Australia (Prof. Brian Fitzgerald from QUT talked about it at the National Scholarly Communications Forum 2007). It was suggested that the Queensland Government was looking to use CC for government data. This then could be applied to Commonwealth data. The people doing Oak Law at QUT have already produced an Australian version of the Creative Commons license. This would seem to be adequate for use by government agencies (but I am not a lawyer).

The demo then showed a map of Tasmania, at different resolutions and pop-up windows of data from features on the map. The interface could do with some of the user friendly features of Google Maps.

In some examples the thumbnails were small maps, which looked useful.

4. Discussion on Governance Mechanisms and Related Issues, Everybody:

This what was on the agenda for Governance Mechanisms and Issues:
  • How best to arrange, manage and coordinate our activities?
  • How often do we meet?
  • Do we need a technical group to support a management group?
  • Do we need a single point of contact?
  • Who is best suited, interested and willing to perform this role?
  • Should the point of contact be funded?
  • How do we develop and coordinate specification development?
  • How do we prioritise development activities?
  • Do we allow participation of the commercial sector?
  • Can they assist in they management, development and/or as project participants
There was a discussion of what mechanism for work for government agencies. This reminded me of the administrative process I helped invent invent for the creation of Internet networks and web sites of the Australian Government. This started out with a self appointed group (the Commonwealth Internet Reference Group formed in 1994) and was later formalized. I suggested a similar strategy with OSDM as the lead agency and endorsement from AGIMO.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is taking a similar approach to statistical data coordination with its National Data Network, as is proposed for geo data. I suggested using the administrative processes and terminology developed by ABS.

5. Identify Priorities, Everybody:

This what was on the agenda for Identify Priorities:
  • What are the key technical issue that need resolution first?
  • Do we need to hold a more technical meeting to commence the specification development?
  • Identification of resources including agencies willing to support the development process, funds and other resources
  • Do we need a short term and long term objective and can these be carried out concurrently?
There was then a discussion of software tools needed. Many of these were geo specific. Some were to do with XML data validation. There was discussion as to who might do software development: government agencies, companies and/or universities. I suggested that ANU students were capable of producing software, but this needed to fit in their educational program, which requires a six or twelve month cycle. It is easier to fit open source prototypes, tools and research into education, rather than proprietary production code.

Students who have undertaken ANU's "IT in e-Commerce" (COMP3410/COMP6341) and similar university courses, will be familiar with
XML, XSL, DTD, CSS, knowledge discovery, Web Services, meta-data, web-based data mining, data management, security, encryption, authentication and the like. But they will still struggle with the problems of the politics of data.

There was discussion of Wikis and mailing lists (the sort of thing used for the ACS Green IT Group is using). There was also a discussion of metadata entry tools.

There was a healthy skepticism as to the status of international standards. Curiously there was no mention of Standards Australia.

6. Initial Project Plan and Timeframes, Everybody:

To be delegated to a meeting of steering and technical committees.

7. Summary, Ben Searle.

Additional Information - Possible Areas for Discussion

Meeting closed at 12:25pm.

Further thoughts

This was a very useful meeting, with people expert in the field and from leading organizations. However, a perception that government committees need to work in a particular way seems to be hampering progress. Use could make of Web 2.0 and social networking technology for consulting and coordinating the work. In this way the inertia of conventional committees could be avoided.

A major problem with efforts such as the Australian GeoNetwork Developers Group is to find who may want to be involved. This can be overcome by placing the information online so that interested people can discover it. The next step can then be taken to invite them to comment and participate. Rather than a rigid plan, anyone interested can be invited to participate, using generally agreed standards and open source systems.

An example of where a looser method of coordination was used was in the
web based open source disaster management system for an Indonesian earthquake. Instead of conventional documentation, the Indonesian IT students doing the work convinced me that a Wiki could be used. The result was a more social, human and inclusive document than would be usual for an IT project.

In Which Repository?

The approach to metadata and repositories for geodata is much the same as that used for other types of data, such as statistics, documents and cultural records. The geoscience community have much to gain from being able to work with other such communities of interest and much to loose if they do not.

As an example, the ANU has an electronic repository Demetrius (named after the first Librarian of Alexandria). The holds mostly materials from the humanities, with culturally significant archives, such as photos of pubs of NSW. Geoscience also holds electronic copies of research publications across disciplines. If the Geoscience materials are not visible in the general repository it may never be found by potential users. Policy makers may not not even notice that geoscience is making a useful contribution and therefore not fund it.


ANU is offering courses in its System Approach to Management of Government Information. This was developed with the for the National Archives of Australia for teaching e-document management to public servants. It includes a short version of my metadata/e-repository lectures. This could be expanded to include more scientific aspects of metadata and geodata. That would be much more interesting for the students than learning how to file government paperwork electronically. ;-)

Smart Rooms

One aspect of Geoscience is the need to have computerized measurement equipment in the field. Following up on the lunch discussion after the meeting with some of the participants,
my proposal for a transportable smart room might be useful. As well as being used for school children at remote indigenous communities and for command and control on the new amphibious ships HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, the technology could be used for geosciece at remote locations, with something more modest than used for arctic research.

ps: There seems to no ISO 19115 entry in the3 Wikipedia in English. Perhaps Australia could contribute one.

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