Open for Cooperation

Stephen Schmid at CMU-Australia's ICT Collaborative Centre. Click to view larger image

Open for Cooperation

Global cooperation and efficiency is one step closer, thanks to Carnegie Mellon University–Australia students assisting the Open Technology Foundation (OTF), a CMU-Australia-based organization dedicated to helping governments make use of cost-effective, open technologies.

The information technology master's students have implemented Openray — a new knowledge exchange and collaboration platform for public administrations in Australia and New Zealand and gaining acceptance around the world.

As all governments — federal, state and local — struggle to meet increasing demands with decreasing budgets, sharing their technical knowledge, re-using systems already built and co-developing new technology can ease the burden.

"The main barrier to effective technology sharing and re-use across public administration jurisdictions is a lack of visibility and insight into what is being done to tackle similar — or identical — challenges in other jurisdictions, countries or regions of the globe," explained Stephen Schmid (HNZ'08), general manager of the OTF and CMU–Australia alumnus and adjunct faculty member.

"It is a significant cost for a public servant to maintain the deep national and international networks necessary."

Openray aims to help, increasing governmental effectiveness and cost efficiency.

"For example, a costly technological solution implemented in one country can be re-used in other countries at a significantly reduced cost if the knowledge sharing mechanisms/networks are in place," said Schmid. "And this applies to any domain of public administration, including digitally-supported healthcare, Internet-based procurement, transport, local government open data and more."

Among its numerous features, the Openray platform now offers multidimensional sharing capabilities including news, blog posts, online libraries and software, while also facilitating coordinated events and workshops to tackle common problems.

The OTF, part of CMU-Australia's ICT Collaborative Centre, was established in 2011 through CMU–Australia's lead role in partnership with the South Australian government. Begun with the goal of connecting Australian and New Zealand governmental jurisdictions to share technology, data and innovation on open platforms, the OTF soon expanded its connections across three continents.

Using the European Commission's 'Joinup' platform as a basis, CMU–Australia students Chaochen Qian (HNZ'13), Mingtao Zhang (HNZ'13) and Luning Wang (HNZ'13) played a critical role in the configuration and installation of Openray.

The organization is currently working with the European Commission and the Vietnamese government to lay the foundation for global sharing cooperation, according to Schmid, and students Vivek Mohan (HNZ'14) and Srinivasan Vembuli (HNZ'13) are now upgrading Openray to make that possible.

"We are planning to federate our regional collaboration sharing platforms," said Schmid, "so public servants within these regions can see what is happening both nationally and internationally — to be part of a global network with others working in similar domains."

Terry Buss, CMU–Australia's executive director, looks forward to the OTF "having wide ranging options that support proprietary and open technology that spurs innovation, reduces costs, fosters competition and improves services, products and outcomes." Such global cooperation and connectedness, he noted, are the keys to technological progress.

This project was also made possible through the support of Andrew Mills, South Australian government chief information officer, Terry Cutler, OTF chair and Kate Lundy, Australian federal senator.

Related Links: Openray | Carnegie Mellon University-Australia | Information Technology Master's program | Open Technology Foundation

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