Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Minister Hockey: Access Card like an iPod

The Federal Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey, has compared the highly anticipated Access Card to an iPod. In his address to the National Press Club today the Minister said that a third of the card’s storage capacity would be in the hands of the individual and could be accessed and used to store information, such as blood type and emergency contact details. The Minister also responded to the report of the Consumer and Privacy Taskforce headed by Professor Allan Fels, including by not accepting its recommendations that the card remove a person’s signature and card number. Some groups claim the card could be used as an ID card and lobbied strongly for these to be removed, along with a person’s birth date. The smart card will consolidate 17 social services cards, including Medicare and Centrelink. The Government proposes to gradually introduce the card from 2008.

Vote early and vote informed

TinkN FICCL bout d election? Dun wnt 2 vote? DEGT. U cld b cryN ovr d rEzlt on election nyt. T+ & vote.*

What does this mean? With NSW and federal elections coming up, political parties are grappling with how to win that floating group of voters, especially young people aged 18-25 years. Increasingly technology is providing the answers on how to engage this group that usually switches off when it comes to voting issues. So how to switch them on? The Daily Telegraph had a great piece on using technology and youth friendly language to get the Generation Y vote. Professor Phil Harris, head of marketing at the University of Otago and former Vice Chairman of the Liberal Party in the UK reckons that text messaging and other mobile content is the way to go. I wonder if Australian political parties will be as switched on to this new reality.

* Thinking, "Frankly, I couldn't care less" about the election?" Don't want to vote? Don't even go there. You could be crying over the result on election night. Think positive and vote.

Australians see change on government services

Australian providers of public services are starting to get the message that consumers need easy and accessible ways to use these services. The Access Card, which will replace 17 health and social services cards, is one response, with the AFR reporting that the first implementation tenders are due to be announced in the coming weeks. Also, I have it on good authority that the plan to enable you to use Medicare cards in EFTPOS machines will become a reality as soon as mid-2007. This means your Medicare claim gets credited directly to your account so you don’t need to go into a branch. Hopefully more public services will follow the digital path, especially given the increasing consumer demand. Computerworld reports that the percentage of users accessing government services via the Internet has risen from 39 percent in 2004-05 to 48 percent in 2006. The trick for governments will be to balance privacy concerns with the efficient provision of public services.

See change on climate change

Climate change is one the hottest topics at the moment and the public reaction shows the what technology has to offer to those engaging on issues. From sharp news commentaries on drought by Online Opinion to witty videos, such as this one on NSW coal projects on YouTube. Also check out GetUp!’s latest Climate Action Now with its suite of options for involvement. Online communities are helping push the debate and I am sure that bloggers will keenly track the seemingly inevitable backflip on climate change from Australian Government. One to watch will be the online community’s tracking of the backflip on our involvement in Iraq. Now that will be to literally see change.