Open data and the startups that make that data useful have the potential to save governments a great deal of money, according to New South Wales Minister for Innovation Victor Dominello.
Speaking at CeBIT Australia on Wednesday, Dominello said on a recent trip to Sydney co-working space Fishburners he met with a startup developing an app that could detect when drivers were getting drowsy and help keep them awake. A subsequent meeting with insurance company NRMA highlighted how such an app could help keep its customers safe and save the company money.
Dominello says eventually the same could be said for startups working with health and fitness data, which could be used to save millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
“There are three major revolutions in history,” he says.
“The first was the agricultural revolution. The next major revolution was the industrial revolution around 200 years ago. Now we’ve entered into that third revolution, which is the information revolution.”
Dominello quoted British politician Francis Maude, who said data will fuel the information revolution said in the same way that iron and coal fuelled the industrial revolution.
“In New South Wales we have 64% of the startups in Australia,” Dominello says.
“You might be surprised to know, as I was when I found this out. In the past five years it’s been the professional, scientific and technical service industries that have been the biggest drivers of growth in New South Wales. More than mining.
“This is the new growth area that we need to tap into. Recently an independent report released says when you balance up economic growth, housing stats, retail spend, business confidence, New South Wales is (Australia’s) number one economy. I’ve been charged as the Minister for Innovation by Premier Baird to make sure we’re also leading the nation when it comes to ICT and innovation.
“I want New South Wales to not only lead our nation, but want it to be one of the major players on the world stage in the years ahead when it comes to this. Because, as you can see, there’s enormous potential around this.”
Dominello points to the $6.7 million Minimum Viable Product grants scheme which gives IT startups access to up to $15,000 in seed funding as an example of a policy which is intended to help New South Wales reach that goal. Under those grants the government will match 50% of the cost of projects. Since its launch two years ago 120 companies have been approved for grants.
The development of a Human Services Data Hub is also underway which will for the first time provide centralised information on human services provided by government and NGOs through an online portal.
“The aim is to reduce duplication from disjoined government by enabling better vision on human services by region – health, early childhood, homelessness, drug and alcohol etc..,” a spokesperson for the minister says.
“The Minister is also looking at ways to expand this project to include more data analytics and taxonomy i.e the standardising the way government agencies collect and record data.”