Edward Mandla
City of Sydney Technology Failure

Published On: 15/08/2016

I made some technology comments last week and I thought I’d elaborate on them tonight in reference to the City of Sydney.

I’m a former National President of the peak technology body, the ACS or Australia Computer Society, which represents individual technology professionals, so I speak with some authority.

It is extraordinary that we’re gloating about being 5 million under on a 12 million budget for information systems capital works. Then we are down a further $1.4 million on IT projects including public access computers in libraries, community centres and childcare centres.

The state of our public access computers is woeful in terms of hardware and Wi-Fi. The state of Councillor Wi-Fi in offices is hopeless. We’ve long given up complaining.

It’s no wonder having a city wide public Wi-Fi network doesn’t even make the list of things to do – it’s too much of a stretch.

We heard the CEO say last week say it’s difficult to find companies that want to do tech work for the City of Sydney. This is work that a teenager could sort out in days.

We have a tender tonight for effectively a fancy photocopier from the usual suspects and every tender is non-compliant forcing the CEO to waste her time negotiating.

I spent a lot of time in this chamber talking about how the City is over secretive and impossible to do business with. The teenager could never submit a tender here as he doesn’t meet our criteria and he’d never get to the page to certify he’s not doing business with Burma of all places. Presumably it’s OK if he’s doing business with ISIS.

As a result, we’re slow, clunky and hard to do business with.

I vividly recall Cr Vithoulkas making an analysis on our paper procurment. She had worked out that the City is one of the biggest buyers of paper and we buy it buy the container load. So you’d think we’d be getting a good deal wouldn’t you? Cr Vithoulkas showed that she could buy a ream of recycled paper across the road from Wollies for the same price we get it by the truck load.

There’s nothing wrong with tenderers, it’s us.

Buying technology is different to paper. It’s strategic and that immediately causes problems here.

To be a global, must see city that people visit over and over again, you need to be a smart city. I think technologically we’re going to let this city down.

Again with my hat as Past President and Honorary Life Member of the Australian Computer Society, I’ve experienced the debate as to where the CIO or Chief Information Officer should report to. Eye brows are raised when the CIO function reports into the CFO but they are circumstances where this may work for a period.

But in my career, I’ve never witnessed a CIO report into Human Resources as it does here.

In four years, the CIO of the City of Sydney made a sole appearance in the Chamber and it was all about cutting costs and rudimentary infrastructure upgrades.

For the City of Sydney to be a Smart City, for it to be easier to do business with, the CIO function must be elevated to report into the CEO and to make regular appearances in the Chamber.

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