The Federal Government has released a paper outlining what it believes should be the key areas of focus for the country to maximise the benefits of a digital economy.
The 104-page report, titled, Australia's Digital Economy: Future Directions was developed by the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy and is seen as a road map for the way the ICT industry, government and community can work together.
So what does it say? Below are the key points contained in the paper:
- The Australian Government defines the digital economy to be: The global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies, such as the Internet, mobile and sensor networks.
- The key elements to a successful digital economy are a government that is digitally aware and enabling; industry that is digitally confident, innovative and skilled; and a community that is digitally empowered and literate.
- Australia lags key international peers for household rates of Internet take-up and business adoption of e-commerce. The report goes on to list some well known research such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Statistical Profile on The Future of the Internet Economy, June 2008. It adds the metrics used to evaluate the success of a digital economy need to evolve.
- The report includes several case studies of companies doing digital things in Australia, including the Google Maps outfit based in Sydney. It also introduces the work done by NICTA and its four spin off companies.
- A list of previously-announced and well-reported initiatives that the government is looking to, or has already rolled out to enable the digital economy, including the National Broadband Network (NBN) and e-Government plans are introduced.
- Australia’s legislative settings must be considered in an international context and must reflect the standards agreed to by Australia in relevant international treaties. The digital economy is global and transcends jurisdictional barriers. As such, regulation may have to change.
- Industry can contribute to Australia’s digital economy by demonstrating greater digital confidence. “Digital confidence” refers to businesses being appropriately educated about the risks but also being sufficiently aware of the benefits, so that they productively and safely participate online.
- To assist Australia's research community and commercial sector to fully map the applications and business models which will thrive in Australia's high-speed future the Government will host a National Broadband Network: Realising the Vision forum before the end of 2009.
Conclusion: The paper has been welcomed by industry bodies such as the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and the Australian Computer Society (ACS). However, the paper is more descriptive than discursive and does not introduce any substantial new initiatives or provide much in the way of detail or serious arguments. That said, it is a considerable round up of what the government is doing and a nice collection of case studies that would be useful for the unfamiliar. The right intentions are there but there is nothing ground breaking contained within the paper and it is far from compelling reading for anyone already familiar with the ICT industry.