Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sydney Electronic Ticketing System Selected

According to media reports, the Pearl Consortium, made up of Downer EDI, Commonwealth Bank and Cubic Transportation Systems has won the Sydney electronic transport ticketing system. Key to the consortium is Cubic_Transportation_Systems which has provided electronic ticket systems to large city transport systems, including the Oyster Card for London Underground. Downer EDI is an engineering company (the EDI does not stand for "Electronic Data Interchange"). The Commonwealth Bank has experience with MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave these are contactless payment cards. These and similar cards are now being distributed widely to bank customers. However, it unclear if the NSW will permit their use for travel payments.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Mobile phones as transport tickets

Deutsche Bahn (DB) are trialling an electronic ticketing system Touch&Travel which may overcome problems with the smart card systems of Victorian and NSW. The DB system uses mobile phones and Near Field Communications (NFC). The key difference to contact-less smart cards, as tried with limited success in Victoria and NSW, is that the system is reversed: the card is attached to the train and the passenger's mobile phone is used as the card reader. As a result little infrastructure is needed to be installed by the transport system: the mobile phone provides most of the smarts.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Health informatics Conference

A Health informatics conference "HIC 2009" will be held in Canberra 19 to 21 August 2009. This covers the use of computers and telecommunications in healthcare. The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has courageously revived the idea of a medical smart card for Australia. Given the failure of the previous government to do this, due to a poorly thought out project, it will make an interesting topic for discussion at the conference.
  • Personalised medicine and bioinformatics
    • Discovering new knowledge in biomedicine
    • Applying knowledge in biomedicine: Informatics role in translational medicine
    • Biomedical systems: delivering personalised medicine
  • Next generation electronic health records
    • Integrating new health data sets
    • Data visualising and data management
    • Personal health records
    • Privacy, security and confidentiality
  • New Models of Healthcare Delivery
    • Monitoring systems
    • Assistive Technologies
    • Smart Homecare environments
    • Telehealth, telecare and video conferencing and virtual reality environments
    • Information innovations to support healthcare communities and social networking
    • Knowledge and education
  • Preventative healthcare and wellness
    • Chronic disease management
    • Building wellness: engaging and supporting the health consumer
    • Population monitoring and preventative health
    • Options for innovative care delivery
    • Genes and proteins to predict and prevent ill-health

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Framework for the collaborative development and use of broadband in Australia

The Online and Communications Council, a meeting of Australian local, state and federal governments in Melbourne 12 December 2008, has issued an Online and Communications Council Communiqué outlining a "Framework for the collaborative development and use of broadband in Australia" and some dubious proposals on the use of smart cards.

The framework is a 4 page, 415 kbyte PDF document, two pages of which are taken up with decorative graphics. At more than 200kbytes per page of content the document will consume ten times the network bandwidth it needs to and will produce ten times the greenhouse gas pollution. This runs counter to one of the stated of the framework which is to: "Extending the environmental benefits of broadband by promoting green ICT policies and smart building applications." Here is the text of the document, in 9kbytes of HTML:

Framework for the collaborative development and use of broadband in Australia

online and communications council

We, the members of the Online and Communications Council, express our commitment to this Framework as a basis to work together to enhance the development and effective use of broadband in Australia.

We agree that promoting the development and effective use of broadband will enhance Australia's economic performance and environmental and
social wellbeing.

Australia should aspire to become one of the world's leading digital economies. We intend to work together to facilitate this outcome.

We share a vision of a cohesive national approach to stimulate and strengthen economic, environmental and social outcomes, through the development and effective use of broadband, for all Australians.


The Online and Communications Council (the Council) was established by the Council of Australian Governments in 1997 as the peak ministerial forum for consultation on, and coordination of, information and communications matters of national strategic importance across all governments.

A key task of the Council is to propose strategic priority areas for online and communications policy and program development. In May 2008, the Council agreed that a Framework for the collaborative development and use of broadband in Australia was an important step forward.

Australia's development will require world-class communications infrastructure and services. Similarly, high-speed broadband access is critical to achieve business competitiveness, social networking and the promotion of social inclusion, and the delivery of public and private sector services. This Framework reinforces the need for the collaborative development and effective use of broadband.


Four key principles guide this Framework:
  1. Australian governments recognise the importance of being world-class in the deployment and use of broadband as the basis for domestic and international competitiveness.
  2. All Australians should have equitable access to high-speed broadband, and the social and economic benefits this capability brings.
  3. Broadband and the digital economy should be driven by a pro-competitive environment that advances the interests of users, promotes efficiency and choice, maximises flexibility, and fosters innovation in the development and application of broadband technologies.
  4. Each government jurisdiction has different roles, processes and responsibilities, and these different roles should be acknowledged, respected and utilised in a cohesive national approach to broadband development and use.


The Australian Government maintains responsibility for telecommunications services policy and the regulatory environment, which includes the roll-out and operation of the National Broadband Network. In performing this role, the Australian Government consults with other jurisdictions and the private sector as required.

The Australian Government continues to safeguard broadband opportunities for all Australians, particularly for those in remote areas, through the Australian Broadband Guarantee and other initiatives, where commercial investment does not achieve the required outcomes.

All governments can enhance government service delivery through innovative and effective use of broadband, including in health, education, emergency services and the environment.

All governments can foster inclusion and participation in the digital economy by addressing barriers to access and effective use, including by building confidence, trust and expertise.

All governments acknowledge the primary role of the private sector in delivering broadband investment, infrastructure and services, and in the collaborative development of technical standards and industry operating arrangements.

All governments also acknowledge that communities can have a major role in raising awareness and coordinating local initiatives to stimulate the deployment and effective use of broadband.

Priority Areas, Objectives and Strategies for Collaboration

The following priority areas, objectives and strategies have been identified for collaborative action:

Priority Area 1: Broadband availability

Objective: All Australians have access to high-speed broadband at equitable service levels and prices.

Strategies: We support the Australian Government initiative to establish the National Broadband Network to deliver high-speed broadband to 98% of Australian homes and businesses, and to provide comparable broadband services for those not covered by the National Broadband Network.

We agree to extend the benefits of the National Broadband Network and related initiatives by:
  • Continuing to develop better practice models for the provision of broadband infrastructure and services in regional, rural and remote areas.
  • Utilising the benefits of government purchasing and contract arrangements, where feasible, to optimise broadband availability.
  • Promoting consistent and cohesive planning guidelines for state and local government authorities, and effective infrastructure implementation, that facilitates the efficient deployment of broadband.
  • Encouraging open standards to ensure interoperability.
  • Encouraging open access to infrastructure to promote competition.
  • Extending the environmental benefits of broadband by promoting green ICT policies and smart building applications.
Priority Area 2: Broadband take-up

Objective: Australians are fully aware of the benefits of high-speed broadband, and are able to choose a broadband service that meets their needs.

Strategies: We agree to work towards:
  • Identifying and reducing social, cultural, economic, educational and other barriers that people face in becoming aware of the benefits of broadband and the internet.
  • Fostering programs and initiatives that promote the availability of affordable broadband.
  • Recognising and enabling the potential of broadband to provide enhanced services to people in regional, rural and remote communities, including Indigenous communities, and those with disabilities and special needs.
  • Building confidence among users, and strengthening the resilience and security of broadband infrastructure and applications through researching and addressing emerging security risks.

Priority Area 3: Broadband usage

Objective: Australians use high-speed broadband to improve economic, environmental and social wellbeing.

Strategies: We agree to work towards:
  • Supporting innovation and best practice in the development and use of broadband applications and services in the public and private sectors, including education, health and other services.
  • Improved government service delivery through world-class use of broadband and the internet.
  • Encouraging and supporting research to identify the economic and social benefits of high-speed broadband, to encourage further investment in such services.

Next Steps

  1. We will task the National Broadband Development Group to develop and implement an annual work plan, addressing the priority areas, objectives and strategies contained in this Framework, including developing a strategy for measuring progress of the priority areas.
  2. The National Broadband Development Group will report to the Council, through the Standing Committee, on the progress of its annual work plan.
  3. The Framework and the National Broadband Development Group's work plan will be reviewed regularly, and updated as necessary, to reflect changed needs of the Australian community, and further developments in broadband services and the digital economy.

Contact Manager

Online and Communications Council Secretariat
Department of Broadband, Communications
and the Digital Economy
GPO Box 2154
Canberra ACT 2601
(02) 6271 1000

From: Framework for the collaborative development and use of broadband in Australia", Online and Communications Council, 12 December 2008

Connected Government

As well as the broadband framework, the meeting endorsed five frameworks and a strategy:
  1. National Smartcard Framework: verifying the identity of users and the authenticity of transactions
  2. National e-Authentication Framework: the exchange of reliable name and address information
  3. National Address Management Framework: developing standards for using new technologies where standards do not already exist
  4. National Standards Framework: provision of standard approaches for government to publish and license information products
  5. National Government Information Licensing Framework In Principle Agreement
  6. National Government Information Sharing Strategy.
Contrary to the text of the announcement which talks about contributing to "business'/citizens' confidence, trust and assurance in easy to use government services", some of these sound like big brother, big government projects which will limit citizens freedom and restrict business. The federal and state governments have a poor record in with smart card projects. The federal, NSW and Victorian state governments have each had failed smart card projects, which wasted hundreds of millions of dollars.

No details are given of how the government propose to undertake these projects. The governments cannot be given the benefit of the doubt. On past experience it has to be assumed that these projects will fail, wasting billions of dollars, unless evidence is given of how these projects will be done differently from past failures.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Combined national public and private transport payment system

Myki Victorian transport smart card Tcard Sydney smart card ticket projectlogoSydney's transport smart card project (Tcard) has been abandoned and the Victorian project (MyKi)is to be having problems. Technically, smart card ticketing systems are very simple, with hardware available off the shelf. But transport smartcard projects frequently have problems, where the transport companies fail to rationalize their fee structure before implementation.

The hardware for the Victorian system seemed to be workable when I tried it. Projects seem to have been successful in
Perth (Smartrider), London (Oyster Card), Hong Kong (Octopus Card) and Beijing (Yikatong). There is a UK based Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation.

In contrast to the problems with public transport smart cards, the
e-TAGs used for electronic toll collection on roads in Sydney and Melbourne are working and interoperable. Perhaps the Australian Government should get the states together to produce a system which would work on public transport and toll roads across Australia. This need not use the same hardware for public and private transport, but could use the same back end payment settlement system. In this way motorists would be encouraged to use public transport as an alternative to driving on toll roads.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Access Card registration process discussion paper

Sample Access CardProfessor Fels' Consumer and Privacy Taskforce has released a Discussion Paper on the Registration Process for the Australian Government Access Card. Submissions can be made until 16 April 2007:
Table of Contents

Registration ... Background ... From Draft to Final ... Introduction to the Registration Scheme ... Public Support ... An Access Card Consumer Charter ... Privacy Impact Statement ... Outline of Discussion Paper ... Informed Consent ... Mandated Data ... Proof of Identity Documentation and Standards of Identification ... Verification procedures for POI Documents ... Additional information to be recorded in the Access Card system ... Exceptions and Exemptions ... Persons under the age of 18 years ... Disability Features ... The Registration Process ... Access Card Issue Overseas ... Conclusion ... Consultations ... Appendix I - Interview Process ... Appendix II
- Business as usual for the Teens' access to Smartcard ... Criteria for people under 18 years of age for their own Access Card ...


Registration is one of the key elements of the Australian Government’s proposed health and social services Access Card scheme. It is the process by which Australians become part of the scheme by having their personal data entered on the Register (formerly known as the Secure Customer Registration Service), receive their Access Card and thereafter access the benefits which are provided by the government’s participating agencies (Medicare, Centrelink, the Departments of Human Services and Veteran’s Affairs).

The Register is established by Division 3 of the Bill. It is part of the background to discussing registration.

It should be noted that the Government has not yet made a formal decision on what the Access Card might be called. The Minister is empowered in the proposed legislation (see below) to determine the name of the card and any symbol used in relation to the card (section 27), and that name/symbol will become the protected property of the Commonwealth (section 28). The Commonwealth will also have the power to compulsorily acquire such related rights if they are currently held privately, on the payment of just compensation (section 73). For the purposes of this Paper we will simply use the term Access Card where appropriate.

From: Registration, Discussion Paper Number 3, Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, 21 March 2007

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Access card forum, 12 March, Canberra

Deb Foskey, ACT Greens MLA, invited interested members of the public to a lunchtime forum on the Federal Government's proposed health and social services access card. As I was in Canberra, I went along. My own views on the card, which must have set a record as the shortest submission to the inquiry.

Someone who I assume is a Greens politician did an okay introduction (I don't think it was Deb Foskey).

Guest Speakers: Anna Johnston 'No ID card' Campaign Director, Australian Privacy Foundation (APF)

Anna outlined the origins of the APF in the fight against the Australia Card proposal (which was successful).

ASIDE: One memorable part of the Australia Card debate was seeing Roger Clarke and others in a dinner table discussion broadcast by the ABC. The discussion was edited down to less than an hour, but obviously was held over several courses and the discussion got more interesting as the evening progressed. ;-)

The APF is opposed to the access card and see it as an Australia Card II. Anna gave a good summary of the access card proposal and issues, such as the creation of a photo database associated with the card. The card is to be issued to every adult and anyone over 15 who requests one. The database will have what is on the card, plus more data and link to agency databases. The APF is concerned that the Federal Police and ASIO will have access without a warrant. Anna did not mention it, but presumably with access to the database the police could track almost everyone in the streets of the CBD of all Australian cities, using the existing security cameras and face recognition.

Anna suggests the Government deflected criticism of privacy by referring them to Allan Fells office. This is a little unfair as Professor Fells seems to be doing a workmanlike job of dealing with privacy issues.

It was a well written speech and will read well. But reading it out in a forum only attended by like minded people will not achieve much.

Anna criticized the Government for cutting some optional functions from the card. This is unfair as these functions would have compromised the security of the card and dropping them is justified.

Anna suggested that the current Medicare card could be upgraded instead of a new Access Card. Other initiatives, such as the on-line portal system, got a mention (I am not sure if this is the same as single sign on for government online services.

In practice an expanded Medicare card is probably what will happen, after those involved in the project recheck the costs and benefits, some time after the next election. It will not much matter who wins the election, the political climate and the costs will most likely set the direction of the project. While proposing a visionary hitech project is a boost for politician and bureaucrat's careers, actually having to get it to work is not. A Liberal government will brand an improved Medicare card as "Access Card Lite"; a Labor government will say they are scrapping the Access Card. But they will likely both implement essentially the same thing.

Julia Nesbitt Director General Practice and eHealth, Australian Medical Association (AMA)

Julia gave a less partisan, and less speech like, presentation.The AMA opposes many of the details of the card, but not the idea of a health access card. She noted there have been problems with several other e-Halth projects, which does not give confidence in the Access Card being executed successfully.

Julia argued that any Medical Emergency Information on the card should be verified by a doctor, as is done with the MedicAlert bracelets. What she didn't say was if having this on a card provided any benefit over a MedicAlert bracelet. Presumably a smart card is much less robust than an engraved metal bracelet and less likely to remain with a patient.

The forum did a good job, but was essentially preaching to the converted. Of the twenty or so people there, most seemed to be from an organization opposed to the Access Card. About the only use for the forum was to provide a media event. I felt a bit used, being just a prop for the TV cameras.

ps: I thought I would do a "live" report but did not bring my wireless modem. I turned on the WiFi but the only access point showing was "Panasonic", which was the video projector for the room. I resisted the temptation to hack in and project my own slides behind the speaker. ;-)

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Access Card Briefing, Sydney, 13 December 2006

The Australian Government's Office of the Access Card (also known as the Government Smart card or Health Card) will hold a Consumer and Privacy Briefing on 13 December 2006:
"... three main aims.
  • Inform the IT industry about the project prior to tenders being released.
  • Provide privacy and consumer advocates with further details about the project.
  • Release an exposure draft of the access card legislation for public consultation."
Also available is the Government's response to the Consumer and Privacy Taskforce Report on "Issues and Recommendations in Relation to Architecture Questions of the Access Card".

The Government's response is a model of brevity being only 59kbytes of PDF, compared to the report's 1.83mb. The original KPMG Access Card Business Case is still available on the Office of the Access Card publications page.

There is also a web address for public information about the Access Card, in accordance with the Government web branding policy. This also has an RSS Feed.

ps: The Government has responded to criticism of the project by increasing safeguards and decreasing its scope. But assurances as to the proper running of the system are less credible after the Office of the Access Card sent out the wrong attachment with their invitation to the briefing. If they have trouble working e-mail, how will they go with a highly complex access card system? ;-)

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