How do you use technology to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I believe that technology is the lifeblood for modern life. It provides the inspiration and means to a functional, open and engaged democracy where individual citizens play a stronger role in shaping their society and the world they live in.

Technology is how we turn ideas into reality and policy into practice. Technology has also provided the means to take traditional models of scarcity, centrist and closed paradigms, and shift to more empowering and effective models of surplus, distribution and open paradigms. The implications are profound as it changes the role of traditional institutions of power, such as government, from bottlenecks and gatekeepers to amplifiers and enablers. The result is an extremely empowered peer to peer society, where everyone is just another node in the network. Those who cling to being kings in castles are simply left behind and rendered irrelevant.

The work I do in government is about bringing this thinking, built on the back of the technology revolution, to the mainstream public sector. I have been involved in developing the Australian Government Gov 2.0, open data and digital transformation agendas and implementation, and have driven the idea of “Gov as an API” building on the earlier ideas of Tim O’Reilly and the “Gov as a Platform. I also started the community run annual GovHack event in a voluntary capacity and have been involved in the open source community for many years.

I am currently working at the Australian Government financial regulator and intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, where I am working on introducing hackathons, gov as an API, codifying of regulations and open data to the agency, and helping develop new models of industry collaboration based on shared interests. You can follow along with my adventures at pipka.org or @piawaugh on Twitter.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016?

In 2016 I actually spent most of the year on maternity leave with my first child, who was born in January. I also pursued some additional university studies in policy, governance, white collar crime and statistics, just for fun. I did a month working for the New Zealand Government to assist with their open data strategy and some digital transformation work, and then I started working working at AUSTRAC in September where I have had some amazing opportunities already to contribute to the RegTech agenda, and explore new ideas like regulation as code, collaboration spaces and opening financial sector data. All exciting!

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017?

Probably blockchain, but also a greater implementation of APIs for government data and systems. I think most of my year will be spent on some significant projects that could provide new models of operating for government.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be?

Work life balance isn’t about sacrificing one for the other. It is about getting the most from each without losing sight of what is important, and always ensuring you are moving forward in your life, career and what satisfies you personally and professionally.

Who is your hero and why?

I have many! I always try to find what I can learn from every person I meet, because everyone has something unique to teach you! I do have a special place in my heart for my parents, who have taught me so much, and for several of my bosses over the years who have been supportive and provided mentorship. But I have always admired Chinese legend Wong Fei Hung. He was a martial artist, a scholar and a doctor, who worked hard to help his community, to maintain his integrity and to use his skills for the benefit of others. I have studied Chinese martial arts for most of my life and the lessons therein have been crucial to my work.

And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be?

Hmmm, the food markets in Xi’An, central China! Incredible fusion of Middle Eastern and Asian flavours! But also High Tea at the Tongariro Chateau, New Zealand, for the perfect blend of yumminess and decadence.

Image by Gavin Tapp, licensed under CC BY 2.0