Tech innovation from the South Australian Government – take 6

[ a five minute read]

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be invited to judge the Premier’s iAward for Public Sector Digital Innovation as part of AIIA’s South Australian awards. I was really excited to help showcase the great work I knew had been happening in my home state and help counter the (sadly) common perception that South Australia is last to the digital party.

I see this come up again and again in the local tech communities that I am part of: an ongoing mournful lament about being ‘behind everyone else’, of not really getting it and of having too much ground to make up.

I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true.

I’m constantly blown away but what comes out of my corner of the world. We are solving problems, coming up with creative solutions to challenges and using our passion to push ideas. We also do a lot with a little (resources, funds and sometimes even skills) and often make a big difference and, really, isn’t that what true innovation is all about?

To prove my point, here are five government digital projects that show what SA is capable of:


AgInsight was the deserving winner of the Premier’s iAward and so is a good place to start. This deceptively simple website collates, maps and displays multiple layers (I think the count is somewhere around 150) of geospatial data and other information to create an easy reference point for local and interstate investors, primary producers and the community.  I love data and because so much attention has been paid to designing a really great interface, this site is really fun to play with. Want to know where your closest water main lies? Interested in the unit price of Garfish for 2015 or even the volume of eggs produced in South Australia since 2011? It’s all in there in a beautifully designed visual display.

2.Change your address – once

On the surface this is a simple project: combine multiple ‘change of address’ forms across government into a single form so people only have to do it once. Dig a bit deeper (I was involved in this project as a rep from a contributing agency) and you find that simplicity can be very challenging. Especially when trying to accomodate the diverse needs of individual agencies.

Despite this, the team at Department of the Premier and Cabinet managed to quickly overcome this and resolve a massive pain point for people trying to interact with government. A fantastic win for citizen experience and something the team should be really proud of.

You can now change your address once (for multiple SA Government agencies) here.

3. The Minecraft Parks

This is a little project from last year that stole my heart. It also made international news. Conceived and implemented by the South Australian Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, the initiative saw children across the state invited to design a national park in Minecraft. Not only was this a really innovative way to use technology, it’s also a brilliant innovation for community engagement and public consultation. Linden Park Primary were the winners – this is their amazing entry:

4. Operation Desal*

SA Water’s game for kids, Operation Desal, evolved from the minds of a brilliant cross functional team of government staff and our local creative industry that included educators, animators, designers and story tellers who together took on the challenge of making the science of desalination both educational and fun. Aligned to the national curriculum, last year the game won two international serious game awards.

You can find links to the games, and more about the awards, on the SA Water website.

5. BlueBays 

Launched in March, this little app uses crowdsourcing to map the blue disabled parking bays. I love its simplicity and that it solves a real problem for people who rely on these parks. Users can download the app as a reference as well as pin new parks on a map and provide notes about them that might be useful to other users. The app is already being used to map bays overseas. Well done to the team at the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion who saw an opportunity to make things easier and went for it.

Get BlueBays on Android and iPhone.

6. Add insight

The Addinsight project made Adelaide’s roads part of the Internet of Things earlier this year through the installation of iBeacons to provide real-time traffic data. Accompanied by a consumer app, Addinsights solves a problem for drivers by providing realtime, handsfree updates about travel times. Developed by the Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure, it also provides them with much better information about what is happening in our transport network. The idea is so good, it has already been snapped up by other states.

Get Addinsight on Android and iPhone.

These are just six of many digital innovations coming our of government agencies in South Australia. Let me know any that have stood out for you and I have missed – there’s so many others I think I need to turn this into a regular post…




*Disclaimer: this was one of my projects. I wanted to include because I want to acknowledge the team. I am still really proud to have enabled this project and all of them to do such amazing work.


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