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ACS Week In Review: 13 June 2014

Friday, 13 Jun 2014

A selection of interesting stories from this week’s tech news.

Government urges tech sector to play to its strengths

Australia’s tech sector needs to focus on verticals in which it can generate or take advantage of genuine competitive advantage, according to one of the government’s most experienced lawmakers.

Paul Fletcher, a former Optus executive and now parliamentary secretary to Australia’s Minister for Communications, told a CEDA conference in Sydney today the tech community needs to better pick its fights.

Fletcher compared today's demands for policies that favour tech entrepreneurs with his time working under communications minister Richard Alston in the mid-nineties.

“At that time, a commonplace call was that Australia needed to have its own ‘fab plant.’  We needed to manufacture silicon wafers, and if we did not then we were locked out of the information technology revolution," he said.

Suncorp tech head Jeff Smith quits for IBM

The man who spearheaded Suncorp Group's AU$275 million IT simplification program when he held the position as CIO, Jeff Smith, has announced his resignation today after accepting a senior global executive role based in the United States with tech giant IBM.

During his time as CIO — before being appointed to the role as chief executive officer of Suncorp Business Services — Smith led the company in standardising its desktop fleet, consolidating its back-office infrastructure, such as datacentres and mainframes, and migrating the firm to IP telephony-based telecommunications. The results of his efforts were evident when the group reported a AU$780 million net profit after tax for the 2010 financial year.

Prior to joining Suncorp, Smith served as the CIO of Australia's largest telco, Telstra, for three years to March 2005. During his time there, Smith pushed the cause of open-source software within the company, and oversaw the ongoing integration and consolidation of Telstra's internal IT systems. 

Smartphone app to prevent bridge strikes

Overzealous truck drivers continue to cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to rail bridges each year by underestimating the heights of their vehicles, sometimes with tragic consequences.

But a new smartphone app developed by Brisbane City Council and the Queensland University of Technology is aiming to curb the costly and potentially dangerous bridge strikes in Queensland by alerting drivers to structures they will not easily pass under.

Drivers will be able to input the height of their vehicles and the app will provide a map with locations of low bridges and their heights.