Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Social media in the Obama Whitehouse

Jonathan Greenblatt, former member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, will talk on "Contemporary US Politics of Social Innovation", in Canberra 19 April and Sydney 20 April 2010.
The United States Studies Centre and
DEEWR’s Social Innovation and Social Policy Groups
invite you to a presentation by Jonathan Greenblatt on

Contemporary US Politics of Social Innovation
Jonathan Greenblatt
Former member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team

Seminar Abstract
President Obama and the White House administration are leveraging social media to accelerate social innovation. The President has also established a new Office for Social Innovation recognising that government alone can’t address the complex social issues that we face. Instead, organisations from the private, public and non-profit sectors need to collaborate to identify and implement potential solutions. The establishment of the new Office shows that the US federal government has a key role to play in promoting and facilitating social innovation.

Jonathan will draw on his experiences as a former White House official member of the Presidential Transition Team to examine how the Obama Administration is developing new models of innovation to change how government works. By leveraging insights from the fields of citizen journalism, social media and venture capital, the White House is changing Washington with its own unique brand of "social innovation."

When: Monday 19 April 2010
Time: 12:30 – 2.00pm
Location: Theatre, Australian War Memorial
RSVP: Places are limited, so please confirm your attendance by Thursday 15 April 2010 with Julie Ward via email: or phone: (02) 6240 9383

Biographical Information
Jonathan Greenblatt is the co-founder of Ethos Water, a former vice president of Starbucks Coffee Company, and an acknowledged thought leader on ethical branding, global development and social entrepreneurship. He is the founding president of All for Good and previously served as CEO of GOOD Worldwide. He also has served at the highest levels of government, including as an aide in the Clinton White House and, more recently, as a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. He teaches social entrepreneurship at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA and advises corporations, foundations and non-governmental organizations on the intersection between business and sustainability.

You can find a more detailed bio at:

Sponsored by the Social Policy Group with a view to building and sharing the evidence base for policy

Evidence driving policy: the DEEWR strategic policy and research seminar series

From: Presentation flyer, by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and the United States Study Centre (University of Sydney).

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Indian education agreement with Australia to boost e-learning?

The Australian Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has signed a Joint Ministerial Statement on education with the Indian Minister for Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal. The agreement covers schools, vocational education and training (VET) and higher education, technical and professional education. Australia will help provide with Indian teacher training and exchange for teaching, research and curriculum development. Work is also under way in the vocational education sector.

The obvious implication is Australian university and TAFE setting up in India. What might be more interesting is cooperative arrangements for e-learning online between India and Australia. Current educational practices in Australia are not efficient enough for the scale of the Indian market, being the equivalent of the "horse and buggy" era before the invention of the car production line. As an example of what is needed, last October, Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU) announced 3G mobile education for its 2.5 million of students.

ANU is hosting a forum for educators Monday and I will be talking about how I have done online vocational postgraduate education (with much of the class being Indian IT and engineering students).

The India-Australia agreement covers:
  1. qualification and quality frameworks
  2. skills demand and emerging needs areas
  3. credit transfer arrangements
  4. supporting the Bureau for Vocational Education and Training Collaboration (BVET) and similar
  5. education, training and research
  6. exchange of officials and educators for professional development
  7. developing and monitoring standards and regulations for education agents
  8. An India-Australia Education Council
Available are:
  1. Australia Consolidates Educational Links with India, Media release, The Joint Ministerial Statement, Hon Julia Gillard MP, issued 8 April 2010 (pre-dated 9 April, 2010)
  2. Joint Ministerial Statement, Between the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations of the Government of Australia and the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India, 8 April 2010 (56Kbytes PDF)

Australian Government logo

Indian Government logo



Minister for Education

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Minister for Social Inclusion


Minister of Human Resource Development


Between the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations of the Government of Australia and the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India

8 April 2010

We, the Education Ministers of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Republic of India, reaffirm our commitment to continue to expand collaboration in education, training and research between Australia and India.

We acknowledge our ongoing bilateral cooperation in education and training through the Education Exchange Program Between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of India on Cooperation in the Fields of Education and Training, signed on 23‚ October 2003. This Joint Ministerial Statement supplements this Exchange Program.

We reaffirm our agreement at our meeting in New Delhi in August 2009 to meet annually.

Through this Joint Ministerial Statement, we mutually consent to expand the existing exchange program agreement to include greater cooperation across all education sectors - schools, vocational education and training (VET) and higher education including technical and professional education through:

  1. Sharing expertise in qualification and quality frameworks and standards for education, research and training;
  2. Providing mutual assistance in fields of agreed benefit, with a particular focus on skills demand and emerging needs areas;
  3. Working together to evolve credit transfer arrangements between Australia and India;
  4. Actively initiating and supporting formal working groups, such as the Bureau for Vocational Education and Training Collaboration (BVETC), to improve understanding of our respective education and training systems and to discuss and periodically review progress on mutually agreed activities;
  5. Strengthening lines of communication for exchange of information on new policy initiatives and opportunities for development of education, training and research activities of both countries;
  6. Supporting the exchange of government officials and educationists for continuous professional development;
  7. Agreeing to establish a Memorandum of Cooperation to progress common interests in developing and monitoring standards and regulations applicable to the operations and activities of education agents and the movement and wellbeing of Indian students to Australia;
  8. Enabling the participation of a third party on joint activities upon mutual agreement;
  9. Mutual agreement on funding arrangements to cover expenses for cooperation activities, subject to availability of funds; and
  10. Exploration of the possible agreement to set-up an India-Australia Education Council as a bi-national body with representation from academia, policy makers and industry to interact on issues related to education and to further collaboration between both sides.

This Joint Ministerial Statement supplements the Education Exchange Program between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of India on Cooperation in the Fields of Education and Training and should be read in conjunction with it.


India and Australia are at an exciting time in their relationship. As envisaged in the Joint Statement of both Prime Ministers in 2009, India and Australia are building a broad knowledge partnership, including developing collaborative projects in education. The higher education institutions (universities and vocational training institutions) in both nations have an important role to play in such partnership including cooperation in science and technology. We recognize that education is central to sustained, inclusive and equitable growth.

People-to-people contacts are at the heart of the bilateral relationship. Students studying in both countries play an important role in building bridges of friendship and understanding and are a significant resource for future development of the relationship. Both countries attach high priority to the safety and wellbeing of students as they play an important part in the knowledge partnership envisaged between the two countries.


India and Australia are both embarking on significant education reforms focussed on developing curriculum to meet the needs of 21st century learners in a rapidly globalising world.

Implementing significant reforms requires capacity building of school leaders including the exploration of relevant research and exchanging best practices. Both sides recognise the importance of Australia-India Principals/Teachers Exchange Program organised through the Asia Education Foundation (AEF) with support from Australian Education International (AEI) India. The program focuses on school leadership, school management and innovation, curriculum and assessment. Australia and India agree to examine expanding the existing program to provide more scholarships and a greater degree of exchange of principals, teachers and administrators dealing with school education.

Melbourne City Council, with the assistance of AEF and AEI India, will support eight scholarships for School Principals from Delhi (government and non-government schools) to visit Melbourne schools for two weeks in 2010 to further their professional development and links between Australia and India.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), India and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in programs and initiatives which will apply international best practices in educational research and assessment to support educational development.

Vocational Education and Training

India and Australia recognise the valuable contribution that vocational education and training plays in improving skills to enhance employability, increase productivity, strengthen national competitiveness and support sustainable development to adapt to climate change.

The Australia - India VET Mission (31 January - 5 February 2010) was the first high level delegation of Indian government officials and industry representatives focusing on vocational education and training to visit Australia. The mission achieved its aim to increase understanding about vocational education and training in both countries and to assist in long-term engagement in vocational education and training.

Both countries are keen to build on the success of the mission and achieve progress in the identified areas of cooperation and opportunities for collaboration. The Bureau of Vocational Education and Training Collaboration (BVETC), established out of the Australia-India Joint Working Group in October 2009, will direct and facilitate continuing collaboration in vocational education and training between the two countries, including the following activities:

  1. Government to government

    Both Governments will work towards supporting quality vocational education and training systems in India and Australia. Australia will collaborate with India in the systemic development of National Quality Assurance arrangements. These may include developing a national qualifications framework and training quality standards.

    The Australian National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) and the National Council of Educational, Research and Training (NCERT) and the Central Staff Training and Research Institute (CSTARI) will collaborate on vocational training and research. Both sides will engage in joint activities to work towards developing a sound and evidence based system for providing information, data and policy inputs for policy makers in India and Australia in the areas of vocational education and training.

  2. Industry to industry - Industry Skills Councils

    Both sides are planning to better engage industry in their vocational education and training systems.

    In the short term, Australian industry skills councils are keen to build mutually beneficial relationships with Indian industry as follows:

    • Business Forums in India, with support from the Government of India, will link with Service Skills Australia, in the retail sector, to customise qualifications and competencies to meet the needs of the Indian industry.
    • Service Skills Australia seeks to partner with Indian industry and government in the hospitality and tourism sectors,
    • The Construction and Property Industry Skills Council will continue to link with the Confederation of Indian Industry and/or the National Academy of Construction, Hyderabad to further their already established relationship. The aim is to promote cooperation in areas such as setting up quality processes and staff training in the Indian building and construction industry.

    The experience gained in these collaborations will form the basis for long term partnership between the Australian Government, Australian industry skills councils and the Indian Government and Indian industry to develop sector skills councils in India.

  3. Institution to institution

    Australian institutions are keen to work with comparable institutions in India to complement existing expertise, support innovation and implement projects. The training of teachers, organisational governance, recognition of prior learning and engaging youth through innovative models of training delivery are examples of areas of mutual focus. The intention is also to better integrate learning between vocational training sectors and higher education institutions.

    The Bureau of Vocational Education and Training Collaboration (BVETC) will continue to bring together Australian and Indian institutes and identify suitable partner institutes for further development of collaboration at the institutional level.

Higher Education

The Governments of Australia and India recognise that the relationship between our higher education systems is a mature and productive one and is based on a long standing history of cooperation and exchange to the benefit of both countries.

We are pleased to be able to announce a range of collaborative activities to help build on this strong foundation and note that beyond those activities announced today, new institution to institution links will continue to develop and grow. We aim to ensure that our students, academics and institutions continue to reap the benefits of cultural and knowledge exchange and collaboration. Cooperation in quality assurance, dialogue between sector representatives, research collaboration and institutional partnerships will all help to progress this aim.

The Governments of Australia and India will work with UGC and other relevant bodies, including the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and Universities Australia (UA), in developing methods for facilitating mutual recognition of qualifications and credit transfer arrangements between Australia and India.

To encourage academic exchange, both sides agree to hold joint seminars on mutually agreed themes to be inaugurated in India in 2010 and coordinated by DEEWR and the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The UGC will provide necessary financial support on a reciprocal and sharing basis for the agreed schemes and programs for collaboration between India and Australia.

We agree to facilitate the organisation of an Australia-India Inter-University Convention of Vice-Chancellors and Academia to interact on issues of mutual concern among academics.

We are also pleased to note the commitment by Universities Australia to co-sponsor a national education forum in New Delhi in late 2010 with its partner organisation, the Association of Indian Universities and interested others to discuss a number of topics including regulation and governance, transnational education issues and collaborative research.‚

Australia and India also agree to continue to expand cultural and academic ties through the Australia India Institute (AII) and the Australia India Council (AIC) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India.

Australia's Group of Eight (Go8) universities have opened a dialogue with Indian Institutes of Technology about establishing a staff exchange program between the two groups of leading higher education institutions.

The Go8-IIT staff exchange program will underpin longer-term relationships, such as in research collaboration. It will also improve understanding between Australian and Indian universities and increase the level of student, staff and research exchange between our two countries.

In addition, we agree to facilitate the initiation of a Joint Faculty Development Program through regular exchange of faculty for mutual learning in areas of teaching, research and curriculum development.

Both sides acknowledge and support the increasing partnerships between our education institutions in research, such as:

  • activities under the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) - a joint undertaking of both governments which the Prime Ministers of Australia and India agreed in November 2009 to extend and expand with an Australian contribution of A$50 million (Rs‚ 200‚ crore) over the next five years, matched by the Government of India; and
  • Australia and India agree to explore suitable partnerships with one or more of India's proposed 14 Innovation Universities and the proposed Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development to be set up in Delhi.

We are pleased to note that the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) will undertake joint research workshops, seminars and exchange of personnel for mutual learning and benefit on quality assurance in higher education. This builds on the strong relationship between AUQA and NAAC, as expressed through successive Memoranda of Cooperation.

Signed in Melbourne on 8 April 2010 in two original copies


Joint Ministerial Statement, Between the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations of the Government of Australia and the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India, 8 April 2010 (56Kbytes PDF)

The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Minister for Social Inclusion

Deputy Prime Minister

9 April, 2010

Media release

Australia Consolidates Educational Links with India

Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, and India’s Minister for Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal, today signed a Joint Ministerial Statement to build on the cooperative ties between the two nations in the education sector.

The Joint Ministerial Statement confirms Australia and India’s commitment to expand the current education exchange program to achieve greater cooperation between the two countries’ schools, higher education, vocational education and training sectors.

The aim of the Ministerial Statement is to strengthen what is already a solid partnership with the Indian Government and open up more avenues to share expertise in the education arena.

Today’s meeting was the result of a commitment made in New Delhi last August to start an annual dialogue between the two Ministers.

Leading education providers and businesses both in Australia and India will also participate in the discussions, providing an opportunity for all levels of the industry to consider ideas and share expertise.

The Ministers also agreed to investigate the establishment of an India-Australia Education Council to improve collaboration on education-related issues.

The Council would consist of academics, policy-makers and industry representatives and will be tasked to explore new partnership opportunities in key fields such as skills demand and education resources.

Ms Gillard took today’s meeting as an opportunity to officially congratulate Minister Sibal and his Government on their Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 which came into affect in India on April 1.

The Act makes education a fundamental right for all Indian children between the ages of six and 14.

One of the key challenges Minister Sibal and his Government now face is the recruitment of up to 800,000 new teachers to fulfil the aims of the act.

The Australian Government today confirmed our commitment to help provide assistance to Indian institutions with teacher training initiatives. Australian providers are also looking forward to the opportunity for increase involvement once the Indian Government had passed their Foreign Education Institutional Bill.

Building on the 135 institutional partnerships already in place between the two countries, there was agreement today to initiate a Joint Faculty Development program. This will allow for regular exchanges in mutual areas of teaching, research and curriculum development.

Australian representatives from the VET industry are also working with their Indian counterparts on the establishment of an Australia/ India Bureau designed to assist with the development of the Indian VET system.

The Joint Ministerial Statement is available at

The Statement supplements the Education Exchange Program between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of India on Cooperation in the Fields of Education and Training, which is available at ...

From: Australia Consolidates Educational Links with India, Media release, The Joint Ministerial Statement, Hon Julia Gillard MP, issued 8 April 2010 (pre-dated 9 April, 2010)

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Whole of Australian Government Mobile Tender

The Department of Finance and Deregulation has issued a Request for Tender for mobile phones, smartphones, wireless broadband modems and services for all of the Australian Government. There is a 1.4 Mbyte document available with the details.
The RFT covers:
  • Mobile Carriage;
  • Mobile Devices: including mobile handsets, smartphones and mobile broadband modems;
  • Mobile Accessories; and
  • Associated Services.
There is a requirement for one or more service providers to provide Telecommunication Commodities, Carriage and Associated Services to the Commonwealth. It is expected that the outcome of this RFT will be a panel accessible by all Agencies.

The Commonwealth aims to establish an arrangement that is flexible, efficient and responsive to changing technology and business requirements. ...
Timeframe for Delivery 3 years plus 2 separate options to extend for 12 months on each occasion. ...

From: Request for Tender for a Whole of Australian Government Panel of Telecommunications Commodities, Carriage and Associated Services, FIN10/AGI002, Department of Finance and Deregulation, 25-Mar-2010

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Australian Government Data Centre Strategy

The "Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010 - 2025: Coordinated. Efficient. Sustainable" was released by AGIMO today. The document is remarkably succinct and clearly written (7 pages PDF 266 Kbytes ). It follows much the same approach as already detailed in the Queensland Government Enterprise Architecture Data Centres Policy (December 2009).

Participation in the data centre strategy is mandatory for most federal government departments and optional for some agencies. In the first five years, the aim is to define standards, establish a panel for data centre facilities and services and assist early adopters. The interim data centre panel is expected to cease by late 2010. The minimum floor space for new centres leased will be 500 square metres, over 10 years (with five year extensions).

The government data centres strategy mentions three specialist research reports: Technology Trends by Gartner Group (August 2009), Government Demand Analysis by CPT Global ( November 2009) and Australian Market Survey by TPI (November 2009). Also ICT benchmarking data, from agencies is mentioned as being avialable. However, none of these appear to have yet been released by AGIMO (in accordance with government policy). It will be difficult to assess the soundness of the proposed strategy until the underlying work it is based on is released.

The strategy document was released in a hard to read PDF format, rather than as a true electronic document. As a result, the document is five times larger than it need be. If this applies to Commonwealth applications in general, then savings from revising applications would dwarf any savings from the data centre strategy.

The strategy estimates a saving of $35 million per annum in electricity costs, and a reduction in the carbon footprint of 13 per cent (40,000 tonnes per annum of CO2e) from using modern data centres. It also suggests further reductions by exploiting "free cooling" where the air temperature is below 16°C.

For details of the how and why of such green data centre strategies, see my book "Green Technology Strategies". Several government staff and data centre vendors have already undertaken the accompanying course at ANU and ACS to implement the strategy. The course will be more widely available in second semester 2010, via Open Universities Australia to students of Curtin University, Griffith University, Macquarie University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University and the University of South Australia.

Data Centre Strategy


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays a vital role in assisting the Australian Government to deliver its services to Australia and the world. The Australian Government is committed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the ICT on which Government business relies.

As the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, I am committed to delivering the Recommendations of The Review of the Australian Government’s Use of ICT, (the ICT Review) undertaken by Sir Peter Gershon. Recommendation 5 of the ICT Review was to develop a whole-of-government approach to avoid $1 billion of future data centre costs.

The Australian Government has endorsed the Data Centre Strategy as the whole-ofgovernment approach to future data centre requirements. It contains initiatives and actions to achieve the recommendations of the ICT Review. For example, longer term leasing will provide surety for the data centre industry.

It also takes account of technology and market factors that affect how agencies use data centres. It has been informed by consultations with industry.

The measures in the Strategy will be very beneficial for longer term outcomes for the Australian community. A more efficient and effective use of data centre ICT will deliver better services and at lower costs than would otherwise have been the case.

Lindsay Tanner Minister for Finance and Deregulation


Federal Government agencies operating under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997(FMA) spend an estimated $4.3 billion per annum on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Of that, around $850 million per annum is on data centres. FMA agencies use about 30,000 square metres of data centre space.

For the purposes of this Strategy, government data centre sites are defined as purpose built, permanent, shared enterprise facilities that can house the full range of ICT equipment currently used or that will be used by agencies. The Strategy is applicable to any space that provides electricity, cooling, fire suppression and/or security to data centre ICT such as servers, networks and data storage.

The Review of the Australian Government’s use of Information and Communication Technology, (the ICT Review) undertaken by Sir Peter Gershon recommended that the government develop a whole-of-government approach for future data centre requirements over the next 10 to 15 years in order to avoid a series of ad hoc investments which will, in total, cost significantly more than a coordinated approach. Sir Peter estimated that costs of $1 billion could be avoided by developing a data centre strategy for the next 15 years.

This Strategy is the proposed whole-of-government approach to future data centre requirements. It contains initiatives and actions to achieve the recommendations of the Review including the avoidance of $1 billion in costs.

Critical Need for the Strategy

The Government’s operations are dependent upon ICT. In turn, ICT is critically dependent upon the data centre in which it is housed. Agencies’ ICT and data holdings are growing steadily. The rising demand for ICT to be available at all times increases the need for reliable and efficient data centres.

Most existing data centres used by government will not be able meet this demand for increased capacity and reliability. Agencies are already planning to move their data centres. In a September 2009 survey, fourteen FMA agencies advised they were considering a move within two years. Another ten agencies are considering a move in less than five years. This is a significant issue for Government, as the first group spends over 50 per cent of the total ICT operating expenses. The second group spends another 10 per cent of the total ICT operating expenses. All support major government programs that deliver services to citizens and business.

There is a growing shortage of available data centre space in Australia. If the current piecemeal approach is not replaced, agencies could begin competing against one another in a seller’s market, forcing up costs. However, aggregating the agencies’ demand for data centre space will achieve a better price. This effect has been demonstrated in the interim data centre panel that was established in 2009 in order to facilitate agencies obtaining short-term data centre space.

Government spends about $170 million annually on electricity for its data centres, of which ICT uses only $70 million. The cooling for the ICT and other data centre support systems uses the remainder. Modern data centres are more efficient in their use of electricity. It is estimated that using modern data centres would avoid $35 million per annum in electricity costs alone.

Environmental sustainability matters are increasingly important. Government data centre operations currently generate around 300,000 tonnes of carbon annually. Modern data centre technology can reduce this carbon footprint by around 13 per cent or 40,000 tonnes per annum. Further reductions are possible by using data centres in the many locations in Australia that can exploit the free cooling available when the air temperature is below 16°C.

Development of the Strategy

The Strategy was developed using a process of consultation, research and analysis.

A cross-agency working group was formed December 2008. It received over 50 presentations from the ICT industry in March-April 2009. A cross-jurisdictional meeting was held in August 2009, with government attendees from all States and Territories except the ACT. Meetings were also conducted with the Australian Information Industry Association data centre working group and discussions were held with several overseas government data centre experts.

Three specialist research reports were commissioned:

  • A Technology Trends report was completed by Gartner Group in August 2009, based on a compilation of their existing research sources;
  • A Government Demand Analysis was provided by CPT Global in November 2009, based on CPT’s research and a survey to FMA agencies. CPT also developed a demand forecasting tool; and
  • An Australian Market Survey was completed by TPI in November 2009, based on a survey of industry suppliers and their internal resources.
Two sets of the ICT benchmarking data, provided by agencies, were used. The 2007/08 data set was available from May 2009, and the raw 2008/09 data became available in late October 2009.


The primary objective of the Strategy is to develop an ICT investment approach to avoid $1 billion in data centre costs over 10 to 15 years. In achieving this, there are several additional objectives in accordance with other Government priorities including improving sustainability and promoting innovation in government as well as the local ICT industry.


This Strategy affects all Commonwealth agencies. There are currently 103 agencies under the FMA Act, which must follow the approach (with a limited exception for national security activity) and 91 under the Commonwealth Authorities and Corporations Act 1997 (CAC), which may choose to adopt it.

The Strategy considers:

  • Data centre construction, location and lifecycle costs;
  • Current and future agency ICT data centre infrastructure, its management and operation;
  • Implications for contracts involving data centres, from leasing to full managed services;
  • Consolidation and standardisation facilitating cost avoidance in government data centre sites;
  • Data centre supply and demand; and
  • Governance, implementation, transition, risks, costs and benefits.

Vision and Aims of the Strategy


The vision for a whole-of-government approach to data centres is that the government’s ICT infrastructure and data centre facilities match the wide range of agency business needs in an optimal manner with regard to cost, energy use and operations.


There are three major aims of the strategy:
  • For agencies to adopt, as soon as is practicable, modern technologies and practices that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the data centre use;
  • For government data centre sites and services to be shared in ways that reduce the duplication and un-necessary cost of base infrastructure; and
  • For government data centre sites to optimally match the business needs and requirements of the agencies. Only those systems that have a genuine business need to operate on a 24/7 basis should be located in expensive, high-end data centres.

The Model

Data centre requirements will be planned, procured and managed on a whole-of-government basis. Data centre facilities and services will be available via a whole-of-government panel. The panel will be set up in accordance with the normal practices of coordinated procurement policy.

Participation in the whole-of-government approach is mandatory for FMA agencies, subject to the established opt-out process.1 CAC agencies will be able to choose to participate, once the approach is established.

FMA agencies will join the approach either by applying early or as their current data centre arrangements are nearing the first of a set of defined trigger points. These trigger points are lease expiry, outsourcing contract expiry, major asset replacement, building move, end of life of the data centre, or significant increase in data centre capacity.

Portfolios, groups of agencies and large agencies which have aggregated demand above a level of 500 square metres will use the panel arrangements to acquire government data centre sites facilities and services. Smaller agencies will participate in aggregated arrangements, coordinated by Finance, to enable them to achieve the required efficiency.

Data centre facilities and services will be acquired commercially using a whole-of-government process led by Finance. Data centre facilities and services will be sourced under the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines in accordance with the value for money principles. Data centre facilities and service providers will become members of the panel upon meeting financial, contractual and technical conditions.

ICT Infrastructure Policy

Standardisation of the data centre ICT equipment and services will extend the benefits of the coordinated procurement. Techniques, expertise and innovation will be able to be more easily shared among agencies sharing a data centre. For example, government can significantly improve on the utilisation levels achieved for ICT equipment. Benchmarking has shown that some agencies achieve up to 12 times more from their equipment than do others. Extending these techniques across government, where appropriate, will lead to considerably increased efficiency. The benefits are considerable, but agencies are often hampered by a lack of expertise when they work independently. The Strategy creates opportunities to share expertise and other resources.

Cost Avoidance Measures

The cost avoidance accrued over the life of the Strategy will principally consist of:

  • Increased efficiency in use of electricity;
  • Reduced data centre floor space and associated costs;
  • Increased efficiency of data centre ICT assets;
  • Improved matching of data centre ICT facilities to business need; and
  • Standardised ICT infrastructure architectures and earlier use of new technologies.


The implementation of the Strategy will use a phased approach. Agencies are constantly changing and evolving their information systems and underpinning technology. There are a number of trigger points such as asset refreshment cycles, end of outsourcing contract, end of life for data centre, or expanding data centre capacity, which provide opportunities for whole-of-government outcomes to be incorporated into agency planning and implementation cycles.

In addition, there are times when pressures or incentives to achieve common goals are present such as the current focus on sustainability. These are drivers for, and opportunities to introduce, changes in the data centre facilities or the data centre ICT.

The implementation of the Strategy takes advantage of these trigger points. Agencies will be required to include actions and outcomes in their individual strategic plans that are coordinated with, and conform to the endorsed whole-of-government approach.

In the first five years, the Government will:

  • Aggregate the whole-of-government data centre demand and establish a panel for supply of government data centre facilities and services;
  • Assist early adopters to move to shared resource solutions;
  • Define the standards to be used in data centre equipment and operations so that maximum efficiencies can be achieved; and
  • Work with the smaller 50 per cent of agencies to consolidate their requirements into common data centre facilities and ICT solutions where appropriate.
In the second five years, agencies will share solutions and technology to drive further cost avoidance. In the final five years, agencies will adopt new opportunities for cost avoidance that arise from changes in technology, processes or policy.

Approaches to Market

The Government will release the first approach to market in the third and fourth quarters of 2010 via AusTender. The first approach will seek to procure data centre services both inside and outside the Australian Capital Territory. The minimum level of floor space required will be 500 square metres with a lease length of 10 years, plus optional extensions up to five years.

A second approach, planned for release in the fourth quarter of 2010, will seek the services necessary to assist agencies in moving to new data centre facilities.

The requirement for the use of the interim data centre panel is expected to cease by late 2010. No new approaches under this panel arrangement are contemplated after March 2010.


From: Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010 - 2025: Coordinated. Efficient. Sustainable, Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), Department of Finance, Australian Government, 22 March 2010

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Screen Australia and film industry

Greetings from the Screen Australia road show. A government review of support for the screen production industry, including the Producer Offset, is due out today. But at the same time Screen Australia is seeking input on the future of the film industry. CEO Ruth Harley is speaking at a road show around Australia and today is Canberra's turn. The meeting is at the CSIRO Discovery Theatre, with about 60 people present.

What strikes me is that Screen Australia talks about the feature film and TV industry. However, these are now dwarfed by the computer games industry. The Apple iPod has changed the music industry and the iPad may be about to do the same to the TV industry. However, the way Screen Australia works does not seem to have changed since cameras were hand cranked. They seem to be trying to help set up an obsolete analogue last century industry for Australia, rather than a digital one for the future.

Pressure points identified by Screen Australia:
  1. Mid range features ($M10-30 ) lack domestic funding. This is an effect of the government offset, which helps both small and large features, but not mid-range.
  2. Longer documentary series are doing well, but the Screen Australia process is complex for one off documentaries.
  3. Liquidation of SPV has complex legislative issues. Providing a grant has tax issues.
  4. SAC test is currently holistic and has no detailed points score type process which leaves producers uncertain as to what might rate well. Details of previous applications are secret due to tax law. "Reality" TV is uncertain as to if it qualifies as "documentary".
  5. Low budget features may not be helped by lowering the limits on the current tax offsets as this requires a "theatrical release". Low budget films might use other distribution, such as online digital, which does not qualify as "theatrical".
At question time I asked if Screen Australia were addressing digital media. They responded they have initiatives in this area. However, I suggested they need to change their mindset and terminology. Digital distribution is seen as "alternative" by Screen Australia, and theatre distribution normal. I suggest this needed to be reversed. Young consumers see the iPhone as normal and going to a "cinema" as unusual.

Another attendee asked about support for the gaming industry and Screen Australia replied this was a matter of government policy and that representations should be made direct to the government. I got the impression that Screen Australia did not want to address the gaming industry without additional resources.

In my view, as the gaming industry is now larger than the film industry, at least half Screen Australia's resources and the government funding, should be devoted to it and digital media. Screen Australia appears to be stuck in last century technology and unable, or unwilling to change. The government should therefore abolish Screen Australia and set up a new digital entertainment body, which addresses digital media as a priority and also the legacy film industry as a secondary priority.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Government IT Contracts for Small Australian Companies

Senator Kate Lundy (ACT) and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) announced a Supplier Advocate to Champion IT on 3 March 2010. So far there have been "Supplier Advocates" appointed for rail and steel.

Recently I was asked about support for small business by an ACT Government committee on procurement. I suggested the ACT government should use the same standards and, preferably the same tender system as the Commonwealth. Also simpler tender documents and less onerous insurance conditions were required. Perhaps the ACT government can work with the new advocate on a joint approach to help small ICT businesses.

Australia’s $98 billion IT industry is set to benefit, with an IT Supplier Advocate to be appointed to help secure more major IT contracts.

The IT Supplier Advocate is part of the Rudd Government’s $8.2 million Supplier Advocate Program, which appoints respected industry figures to provide leadership for targeted sectors. Advocates have already been appointed for rail and steel.

Announced by Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, and Senator Kate Lundy, the IT Supplier Advocate will work as a broker and spokesperson, particularly for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the information technology sector.

We want Australian IT firms, particularly SMEs, to have the best chance of getting in the game and the best chance of winning.

It is vital that government has access to the nimble, innovative capacity of IT small businesses and equally, they have access to government.

The IT Supplier Advocate will help small businesses access contracts that may not have been on their radar.

The advocate will also work to ease the often unfounded concerns of risk that may be associated with awarding work to small business.

NICTA’s Australian eGovernment Technology Cluster has offered to work with an IT Supplier Advocate to provide services and facilities to help SMEs field test and prove the scalability of their IT solutions to prospective customers.

The Government canvassed the views of many stakeholders in the Australian IT sector about appointing an advocate.

These consultations suggest that there are significant IT procurement opportunities in the government where the supplier advocate could make a difference.

The Government’s Information Technology Industry Innovation Council will provide advice on the appointment. An announcement on the advocate is expected by the end of March. ...

From: Supplier Advocate to Champion IT, Joint Media Release by Senator Kate Lundy and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) 3 March 2010

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Building the Australian National Health Network

Dr George Margelis, from Intel's Digital Health Group, talked last night in Canberra on "The Patient Journey - What role for IT?" he will be repeating this in Brisbane 17 March.

Dr Margelis, showed a number of interesting before and after video segments of problems with the health system and how ICT could help. Normally I dislike company videos in presentations as they are advertisements for companies. While these were clearly produced for Intel, they were relevant to the topic.

The first video was of someone being rushed to hospital in an ambulance (which I could identify with having had it happen to me). This illustrated how currently medical staff in the ambulance and the hospital use computer based systems, but these are not linked, so that information has to be relayed by voice or paper. A future scenario showed the patent details being shared online between the ambulance and the hospital. Dr Margelis emphasised that none of the technology envisaged was exotic and was not already in use in other fields. It was a matter of integrating it into the medial system in a way which helped the medical staff and the patents.

The major issue was to network records so that dispersed medical services could serve the patient. Dr Margelis showed a scenario networking the ambulance to the hospital, to the remote specialist.

In a later scenario Dr Margelis showed patients using a home based system. This not only monitored the patent and prompted them to take medication, but also connected them to their helpers and medical staff, using a wireless mHealth device.

One problem I had with these scenarios is that they were applying computerisation to an existing system without considering how to change the system. As an example, it is difficult for a hospital to obtain patent's GP records in an emergency, because the records are stored on paper in dispersed GP offices. The Intel solution is to network the records. An alternative low technology solution would be to group the GPs in clinics. These clinics would then be large enough to employ professional record keepers and be open 24 hours a day, so they could respond to emergency record requests. My doctor would not like this as they see themselves as a provider of custom personal services, not part of a corporation. However, the alternative ICT solution will result in some loss of their autonomy.

What Dr Margelis presented was a clear logical vision. The question this raises is why has it not been done? This is not a technical issue, but still an issue for ICT professionals. It is not enough to we have a solution, it is the customer's fault for not buying it. The underlying issues as to why such systems are not implemented need to be addressed.

The Prime Minister has proposed to take over all public hospitals in Australia. As Dr Margelis pointed out, the public hospitals are the smallest and least important part of the health care system. There is a risk that the government will concentrate on hospitals, resulting in better hospitals but an overall decline in the quality of health care and an increase in costs. This would be similar to the situation where the government funded insulation in homes is likely to increase energy use, rather than reduce it. Similarly a networked national hospital system may increase costs and reduce the health of the population.

Some far less glamorous, less expensive, more local community health initiatives, might be far more effective. These could still make use of ICT.

The NBN Company provides one possible model for the health care reforms. Under this approach the government announced an impressive sounding multi-billion dollar national broadband network (NBN). They then set up a government owned company to implement it. What NBN Co has done is architect a national system, but are first implementing small scale local projects. These projects are small enough to be implemented efficiently and provide local benefits in the short term, so the government can be seen to be delivering services (in what might happen to be marginal electorates). One day all these system might join up into the envisaged national system, but in the interim they will provide useful local services to the community and political kudos to the government.

Current attempts at national e-Health standards are mired in the need to have a consultative process between government and industry. NBN overcame this problem with broadband standards by consulting with parties, but making clear that as a company they were not required to wait for everyone to agree and were going to make a decision and then implement that decision. A NHN Co (Australian National Health Network Company) could make similar decisions for e-health standards and the implement them.

The government could announce the goal that all public hospitals would be networked and all patent electronic health records would be available by a set date. Governments and companies which did not wish to cooperate would not be funded.

One interesting question asked was when will patents will be able to ask their doctor to put their records on Google health. This might be useful for the patent, but the doctor would need to be compensated for the extra effort in working out how to do this.

Another question was on casemix to provide appropriate incentives for keeping people healthy, instead of dispensing medicine to them. If there were the right incentives this would provide an incentive for better ICT systems to keep the patents out of hospital.

It was pointed out that there are now international standards for medical imaging (Xrays). There is now under way for standards for the medial records delivered to the patent in the home, so that we will not first build proprietary systems and then have to convert to real standards. It may be that Australia has to accept an international standard which is not as good as a local standard, but which is adequate and has the advantage of widespread acceptance.

See also: ICT in Health Delivery in the 21st Century in 11 November 2008.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Senator Lundy on Internet Regulation

Senator Kate Lundy has written extensively, and thoughtfully, on the issue of Internet censorship in Australia. I think she is on the right track. This is an issue where you can't please everyone. I had the task of preparing the ACS position on regulation in 1995. My own position is summed up in a talk gave on ABC Radio: "Filtering Porn on the Internet: Imperfect by Necessity".

By Senator Lundy on Internet filtering:

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Government Announcement Fails Accessibility Test

The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, announced that the Australian Government would adopt version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). Unfortunately the web page with the announcement failed tests with both version 1 and version 2 of the guidelines, as shown with a TAW Automated Test.

On a version 1 of the TAW test, the page had zero Level 1, eleven level 2 and one level three problems. On the TAW version 2 tests the page had 12 "Perceivable" problems.

The minister needs to have his own web site checked to ensure he is following the policy issued by his own department and complying with Australian law. It should be noted that the Minister does not have the authority to decide what is, or is not, legal. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Australian Human Rights Commission issues guidance and courts decide.

ps: The announcement page also scored only 34/100 on the W3C mobileOK Checker. While this is not required by law, it would be desirable if government information was provided in an efficient easy to read format.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Government ICT Education Panel

The federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has issued a Request for Tender for an Applied Information and Communications Technology in Education Panel (ATM ID DEEWR RFT PRN24602 17 February 2010). There is a 126 page document avialable to prospective tenderers (1.48Mbyte MS-Word). The table of contents is 20 pages long.

Purpose of the Applied ICT in Education Panel

      1. DEEWR requires a panel of experienced consultants with strong technical knowledge and a good understanding of the use of ICT in the education sector to form the Applied ICT in Education Panel (‘the Panel’). Panel Members must have detailed knowledge and a demonstrated understanding of the design and implementation of ICT infrastructure, networking and eLearning in the education sector. Members of the panel will have demonstrated capacity, expertise and experience in providing high quality technical advice and analysis services in relation to government ICT in education initiatives.

Types of Services Required

      1. The panel may be used by DEEWR to support the development, implementation and evaluation of initiatives that support the use of ICT in education including the Digital Education Revolution (DER) and the Vocational Education Broadband Network (VEN).

Use of the Applied ICT in Education Panel



      1. The Australian Government has made it a national priority to create a world class education and training system for Australia. It is committed to increasing the proportion of Australians with educational qualifications and through the Council of Australian Governments, has set targets for 2020 and 2024 in order to secure Australia’s long term economic prosperity.

      2. The Government is supporting the education and training sector to achieve this objective through the investment of $2.2 billion under the DER and $80 million under the VEN initiatives. Reflecting Government policies DEEWR aims to promote the effective integration of ICT in teaching and learning in Australia.

      3. DEEWR has identified a need to have access to ongoing external specialist technical advice. The panel arrangements which are the subject of this tender will assist in the timely delivery of technical and specialist advice and reports to support the activities set out ...

From: Applied Information and Communications Technology in Education Panel , Request for Tender ATM ID DEEWR RFT PRN24602, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 17 February 2010

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Negotiate Post Copenhagen Climate Change Online

Greetings from the Australian National University, in Canberra where "Post Copenhagen: Where Do We Go Now?" was just held. The event is also streamed live online.

Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute hosted. More than 50 ANU staff and students attended the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. They provided insights on what happened.

Some insights:
  • One Russian spokesperson make commitments one day and a different one explained these were not going to be commitments the next day,
  • Developing nations argued for financial help to mitigate climate change. There were allegations that this was being used to gloss over the lack of progress. There were also issues as to if any funding would be new and would actually be paid.
The Australian Government's Climate Change Ambassador will be speaking
at ANU tomorrow
. My suggestion is that ANU should host online forums on behalf of the Australian Government to provide a low emission high efficiency place to negotiate the Copenhagen Climate Change global agreement. This could include training in how to negotiate efficiently as well as how to use online technology to do it.

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Australian National Enabling Technologies Strategy

Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, yesterday launched the National Enabling Technologies Strategy with $18.2M to upgrade the National Measurement Institute, $10.6M for policy and regulatory development, industry uptake, international engagement and strategic research and $9.4M for public awareness and community engagement.


  1. A national approach
    Through the Strategy, a collaborative effort and joint activities will be encouraged between Federal, State and Territory governments and agencies and a wide range of stakeholders, consistent with the aims of the Strategy. More information is available on the Stakeholder Advisory Council and the Commonwealth State Working Group which are being established under the Strategy.
  2. Balancing risk and reward
    The Strategy will support the appropriate coverage of enabling technologies in policy and regulatory frameworks, and support Government agencies to ensure that Government policy is informed by an understanding of health, safety, environmental, social and economic considerations. More information is available on the HSE activities taking place under NETS, and also on the international engagement activities taking place under NETS.
  3. Engaging with the public
    The Enabling Technologies Public Awareness and Community Engagement program will provide balanced and factual information on enabling technologies to inform public debate, and to encourage greater community engagement in debates about the development and use of enabling technologies.
  4. Developing measurement capabilities
    The National Measurement Institute (NMI) will develop measurement infrastructure, expertise and standards for nanotechnology and biotechnology (nanometrology and biometrology).
  5. Using technology for a better future
    The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research will increase government, industry and the community's understanding of the ways in which applications of enabling technologies may help to address major global and national challenges and increase industry productivity, and will encourage the responsible development and uptake of these technologies.
  6. Planning for the Future
    The Strategy will assist Government, researchers, industry and other stakeholders to prepare for the advent of new technologies by undertaking foresighting activities and supporting the development policy and regulatory frameworks. An Expert Forum of 8 to 10 people will be established in 2010 to guide the Strategy’s technology foresighting activities.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Publishing round table National Library of Australia

Greetings from the National Library of Australia. Colin Steele organised a round table with Richard Charkin, Executive Director of Bloomsbury Publishing, London. There were 26 people present, about one third from the library, a third from the ANU and the rest from federal government agencies and universities.

Richard, who I met in the library's cafe on the way in, is talking at forums in Melbourne and Sydney. Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research talked at the forum yesterday. In his speech "THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION: PUBLISHING IN THE 21ST CENTURY". He announced a book industry support group. The group has not been set up and its composition and role is unclear. Richard commented that the Minister seemed to be making it up as he was speaking.

Richard talked about Bloomsbury's role in publishing educational and scientific materials with "
Bloomsbury Academic". He talked about the tradition business model of publishing, with the separate roles of publishers and book stores. Publishers became more specialised an online delivery became available twenty years ago with Dialog and the like. There were also early CD-ROM books, such as the BBC Domesday Project. The point of this was that e-publishing is not new. One example was the spell check program based on a traditional paper dictionary. One large e-publishing effort was the Oxford English Dictionary.

Large digital scholarly publishing started around 1993 and was largely complete in five years. Scientific journals were traditionally published as a record: to be written, not read. Computer based systems allow the material to be easily searched. The science publisher's staff were scientifically trained and so comfortable with computers. Because the publisher had rights to re-purpose the material allowed for new databases, which Richard argued was a good thing (although in other ways publishers may have too much power). The last link in the chain were the university librarians, who were comfortable with digital materials.

Richard commented that scientific publishing has been very profitable for hundreds of years. The profit was an enabler for digitising publishing. Also university library budgets for subscriptions is a source of funds. He claimed that scientific publishing is now 99% digital. For leading journals, such as "Nature" all submissions are now digital. The print journal is now a sideline.

Book publishers are now being sucked into the maelstrom of electronic publishing. Book publishing is incredibly complicated (something I discovered recently with my new book "
Green Technology Strategies").

Unlike scientific papers, format matters for scholarly books and there are many different complex formats. The rights to books are very complex, with rights for different territories and in different languages. Some of the rights are unclear, as for example, is Hong Kong an "Open Market". A publisher might have the paper rights, but not digital rights, or may have the rights, but have agreed a royalty. This makes the metadata for the rights difficult to encode. Calculating royalties can be difficult when the book is available in different formats and modes, such as subscription.

Richard commented that the fear of book piracy may be more of an issue than piracy itself. There is also a fear of e-book sales cannibalising paper book sales. He also commented on the Macmillan verses pricing issue. With
Amazon Kindle e-books, he commented that the commercial arrangements were confidential (I see this as similar to software licences).

Richard said that many Kindle book sales are to regional areas and less developed nations. He speculated this was a new market of people who previously had difficulty getting access to books. There is a large market for English language books outside English speaking countries. I assume this is particularly the case for technical and scientific works, where English is the language of the discipline (such as Computer Science).

There are frustrations and delays with e-publishing still. This will require new systems and clarification of rights. Richard used the example of the Kindle edition of my book of what is possible, which took only 12 hours to be distributed.

There is needed a new emphasis on marketing of material. Also global agreements on copyright is needed. Richard argued copyright is workable and Creative Commons is an example of how it can be adapted to new needs.

He suggested that academic publishers need to de-specialise, so they find a new wider market.

Post Harry Potter, Richard decided to build Bloomsbury's academic publishing, with
Bloomsbury Academic. He commented that a fiction book goes through 25 intermediaries before publishing, making it difficult to make a profit. The academic publishing process has many fewer steps.

Net Neutrality by Christopher MarsdenBloomsbury set up " Bloomsbury Academic" which has adopted the Creative Commons licence, with "vanilla text" versions online for free, as well as selling e-book and print editions. I was surprised that a credible publisher had taken this innovative step and more surprised that I had not heard about it. I had a quick browse and found at least one book of interest ("Net Neutrality" by Christopher Marsden). But Bloomsbury need to improve their web site, as I could not find a web page about the book. He aims to publish a few hundred titles in five years, an at least break even. He accepts that this new initiative will not appeal to academic authors as much as prestige publishers, but will be attractive as the books will be much widely read and have the potential to become popular. The production process has traditional editors and quality controls.

The floor was then open for questions.

The first question was about Print On Demand (POD), such as the
Espresso Book Machine at University Bookshop and Melbourne University Library. Like me, Richard has doubts about the current machines, but they have potential for the near future (next year or so). Someone then commented that US publishers don't allow POD outside the US, because the US market is so large in itself and they do not have to try too hard. Richard also commented that due to the "thirty day rule" many books are now printed in Australia (unfortunately I could not find a web pages explaining the 30 day rule).

The next question was about markets and demographics. Ricahrd commented there was little science in trade publishing and it as more a matter of passion and reading the book. It occurred to me that the sort of data you get from web sites using tools like Google Analytics could be of use.

The next question was about the ability to produce large print books on demand. It was commented that this was very useful, but expensive from
Amazon POD (but an exclusive arrangement will not be used). I produced a large print edition of my latest book, simply by increasing the paper size. he Apple iPad also got a positive mention.

The next question was composite textbooks, made from chapters out of different works. Richard responded that US style textbooks are an outdated "Oldsmobile 1996" style of working, with a long production time and large costs. He doesn't think "chunking" (taking chapters from different works) is an interesting approach. The lecturer's notes are more interesting. Textbooks are bought by students in shops, whereas digital materials are bought by libraries. He suggested university libraries might buy a e-textbook site licence and then obtain reimbursement from students. Last year at ANU I selected an e-textbook available through the library for COMP2410 and this worked fine (we aren't charging the students extra for this).

The next question was why English and Dutch academic paper publishers think they can make money, but others can't. Richard's reply was that if you subsidise the publishing it will never make money. He argued that academic publishing can make money and university should not subsidise their presses.

One question was why aren't students demanding e-textbooks? One comment was that the text is no integrated into the course and students may never read the text, electronic or on paper. Richard replied that teaching English was producing the most sophisticated e-learning systems. Another comment was that the Australian Government's new publishing intuitive did not include educational institutions, who are a large source of the content, as well as consumers. It occurred to me that the e-learning initiatives funded by the federal education department for universities (
Education Network Australia: edna ) and TAFEs (Australian Flexible Learning Framework) could be usefully combined with the publishing initiative.

Richard commented that "printers" were not now seen as a significant part of the publishing business, but with POD this could become important again: "desperate industries tend to be ahead of the curve".

Another comment was about "Learn on Demand" rather than "Print on Demand". Students want to be able to select components of courses and texts in different formats as required. It seems a shame that the publishing people in this room did not know about all the excellent work being done on exactly this by people who probly a few doors down the corridor from them.

Richard expressed doubts that Google Books would earn significant advertising revenue and was likely done out of idealism. I am trying it out, by making my book avialable on Google Books.

One person commented that academic publishing online was still largely in the format of traditional books. Also better measures than citation index was needed. It occurs to me that some of the sophisticated measures available to web publishers could be applied.

Richard commented that the business model for Apple iPad was still not clear. He also amusingly commented that the market for e-books did not seem to be mobile younger business people as expected, but actually older people who wanted to read in bed without disturbing their partner. He also commented that the limiting factor in selling books was bookshelf space at home and there may be more shelf space in India (haing seen the book store at Bandglore airport and the public library in Panjim, Goa, I can agree). There were also comments about the iPad and Knidle being too big. In 1996 I predicted a
passport size (b7) PADD device, much like the Apple iPad.

There was then a discussion of the disposable nature of mass market paperbacks, particuarly romance novels.

Richard said how he saw no books in the canteen of the British Library, only laptops. He also said how good the canteen is. This I found surprising, as on my one and only visit as a reader at the BL, I found the food at the cafe very poor (along with the poor state of maintenace of the technology in the BL, poor customer relations and poor building design).

There was then a discussion of how quickly books go out of print and general agreement that e-publishing would eliminate this.

Richard asked if books could be e-published in 12 hours, why couldn't peer review be made faster. In fact with electronic support for publishing, this can be done. The systems automatically track how ling reviewers are taking, send them reminders and monitor their performance.

One comment was that books only count slightly more than journal articles for the Australian research ranking system. So a smart academic will chop their book into about five papers to maximise their ranking.

I commented that my e-learning course ended up being a printed book as well. Richard replied that several initiatives at Nature which started out purely electronic later produced print versions which were popular.

One audience member asked that if the academic author does all the production work, then what is the publisher for? Richard responded that authors always feel there publishers are not doing enough, but they do provide production, marketing and distribution services, as well as "love". One of the audience commented that the film industry has a different arrangement. It occurred to me that the modern publisher is more like a holywood studio, which actually does little of the film production.

Bloomsbury created for the
Qatar government. Also is creating Bloomsbury Qatar Publishing Foundation for publishing educational materials and Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals (couldn't find their web site) to do institutional repository with open access for Education City's research output. These are non profit actives established by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned (موزة بنت ناصر المسند‎), chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

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