Sunday, 18 October 2020 08:17

Australia to digitise incoming passenger cards once intl travel opens Featured

Alan Tudge and Stuart Robert announcing the new digitised system. Alan Tudge and Stuart Robert announcing the new digitised system. Courtesy Sky News

The Australian Government will put in place a new digital system to collect information from incoming travellers via their mobile devices or through a computer as it prepares for opening global travel once again.

The new system was announced on Saturday by acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge and Government Services Minister Stuart Robert who said the so-called Digital Passenger Declaration would also allow for the digital uploading of certified COVID-19 vaccination certificates when these became available.

A statement jointly issued by the two ministers said the Department of Home Affairs would build a simple digital visa product to test whether they could be integrated into the new system and then make other visas also progressively available.

It is intended that a new platform will these applications and be built as a re-usable, whole-of-government, permissions capability, in the same way that a single entitlements platform that supports multiple departments is being developed

This permissions platform is expected to enable further digitisation of services such as permits, accreditations, licences and registrations. A tender for building such a system is expected to be issued shortly.

Tudge said the permissions capability would help Australia as it reopened travel. "This capability will put us in a prime position to successfully reopen our borders in a COVID-safe way to help with the rebuilding of Australia's economy," he said.

"On top of that, it will significantly streamline our national response to COVID-19 and our contact tracing capabilities by speeding up information collection and processing.

"Currently, the government collects a range of passenger information, including contact details, customs and biosecurity information from citizens and non-citizens entering Australia using a manual, paper-based process.

"This new capability will strip away the need to scan paper cards. It will facilitate data sharing between state and territory health departments and enable swift verification of information provided by passengers.

"In the future, collection and verification of information will assist in managing risk at the international border when international travel returns."

Robert said: "As I announced in July, the Morrison Government has a bold vision to deliver services that are simple, helpful, respectful and transparent.

"[The] announcement is a major step forward in delivering that vision, whilst having the benefit of building a strategic, foundational platform for our whole of government ICT architecture.

"This build/buy once, re-use many times approach will reduce duplication of ICT investment and address the current risks and costs of ageing, siloed systems — saving a significant amount of taxpayers' money while simultaneously improving government service delivery performance.

"Our goal is for people and businesses to access government services as easily as they can and with as little intervention as possible, just like when you do online shopping or banking. The new Digital Passenger Declaration will do just that and help us re-open borders in a safe and responsible way."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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