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Q&A: NSW Electoral Commission CIO, Ian Brightwell

Q&A: NSW Electoral Commission CIO, Ian Brightwell

Brightwell discusses some of the big issues facing CIOs today

NSW Electoral Commission CIO, Ian Brightwell.

NSW Electoral Commission CIO, Ian Brightwell.

As CIO of the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC), Ian Brightwell has been pivotal in the agency’s journey towards electronic voting over recent years, from the first talks of iVote in June 2010 to its use in the NSW state election in March 2011 which tripled initial user expectations.

The system enables blind or vision impaired and disabled voters, as well as those living in remote areas and those who are out of the state, to cast a secret and unassisted vote from home and other locations over the phone or internet.

Brightwell is now in the process of gaining funding for its use in the next state election in March 2015, and undertaking the busy process of tendering for new technology for the system in order to update and make changes to the system.

Brightwell sat down with CIO Australia to chat about what his role at the NSWEC entails and some of the projects he is currently working on.

What does an average work day involve for you?

It typically runs for about 10 hours. Meetings make up a lot of this but I am also very hands on.

We are a small organisation so I do the full gambit from sponsor to architect to BA to contract manager on many of the projects.

What are some of the major challenges you face in the role of CIO?

The governance of project and programmes and establishing standards is becoming a bigger part of the job.

Also, providing technology vision and evolving infrastructure is an ongoing challenge.

What are some of the recent projects you have been working on?

The last election in March 2011, I was the manager of the iVote project which allowed some 46,864 electors to vote remotely using a browser or phone.

This was a very challenging project.

What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?

It is always the same – the integration of people with process and technology. The only thing that changes is the technology opportunities.

This means you are constantly re-assessing what you could not do before because it may now be possible.

Also, picking the right time to jump into a technology and which technology is the right choice is always a judgement call which involves experience and a degree of cynicism.

What is your favourite gadget?

My iPhone – it is my best tool against the email war.

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