The Australian Government has earmarked US$475 million (AUD$474 million) on unified communications to streamline service delivery for citizens nationally.
This unified communications initiative, being managed by Australia’s mega-agency, the Department of Human Services, will help consolidate 20 existing telecommunications contracts, while merging voice, mobile and data services across a single data network for the first time.
As Australia’s lead citizen service delivery agency, the Department of Human Services provides strategic policy advice to the Australian Government.
This department also manages services and payments nationally, including Medicare, Centrelink, and Child Support. Combined, these services reach millions of Australians nationally.
Nearly 98 per cent of Australians are registered with Medicare, while Centrelink currently has 7.1 million customers and Child Support has 1.4 million customers.
The department’s unified communications project is one of the nation’s largest telecommunications deals in recent years, according to the Minister for Human Services, Kim Carr.
This project, just awarded to the Australian telco carrier Telstra, becomes fully operational in 18 months.
When up-and-running, this unified communications roll-out will fast-track services to some of Australia’s most disadvantaged citizens, while promoting the local industry and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
The department’s existing network is being replaced with a collaborative backbone network that supports Internet Protocol (IP) telephony services, IP call-centre services and video conferencing for more than 40,000 staff nationally.
Among the benefits, this roll-out will see fewer callers wait on hold, while helping remote communities get help more readily when disaster strikes.
“This (project) is one of the department’s biggest commercial deals,” Minister Carr said.
“It offers significant savings – consolidating 20 existing telecommunications contracts – and will well and truly bring the department into the 21st century, merging voice, mobile and data services across a single data network for the first time.”
Using a single telco provider will enable the department to deliver innovations based on cutting-edge technology. These innovations encompass improved call-back capability and easier identification of callers.
“Fewer citizens will have to wait on hold and more can get access to convenient self-service services whenever they wish,” Minister Carr noted.
He added that modernising service delivery technology will enable all calls, email, SMS and other multi-media contacts to be automatically distributed through a central system across the network to the right staff with the right skills to help.
New and improved capabilities, such as voice recording, voice biometrics and video conferencing will help department staff interact with the community in more convenient ways.
“It’s not just about phone calls anymore,” Minister Carr observed. “We live in a digital age and people expect to communicate with government through multiple channels, like mobile technology and social media. This deal will position the department to deliver exactly that.”
Among the updates, a centralised scheduling system will be implemented to co-ordinate staff across the national IP network. This centralised network will help staff manage demand more effectively, especially during peak times.
Last year, the department’s centres answered more than 55 million calls; of these Centrelink recorded 37 million phone calls, including over 6.5 million SMS to customers. Additionally, Medicare fielded 15.2 million calls, and Child Support tackled 2.9 million calls nationwide.
As an industry incentive, Telstra will use Australian-based expertise to implement and transition the department and related agencies to the new unified communications platform.
Subscribe to the printed version of FutureGov
In a bid to ensure transparency in the application process for obtaining a driving licence ...
It is nine months since the Government of India announced a plan to overhaul the ...
Bangladesh is planning stringent measures to fight cyber crime amid the rapid expansion of information ...