Digital incubator changes approach and builds capability

Find out why the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Road’s Digital Incubator was a winner at the Australian Government Digital Awards. 

Three people with an award standing in front of a plant wall.
Caption: Caption: Michael Ashworth and Erin van der Veer from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, with judge Melanie Kontze from Silverstone Edge

As we continue to recognise the great work being done across government in digital transformation, we will showcase each of the Digital Awards winners over the next few weeks. You’ll see what they worked on, and what set them apart from the competition. 

TMR Digital Incubator, Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads 

The Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) won the outstanding methodology or approach award for the TMR Digital Incubator. 

The Digital Incubator is an innovative approach for experimenting with new technologies and building capability in agile and customer-centric ways of working, to help prepare TMR and its people for the digital future. 

Nominees for this category had to show they used an innovative and reusable methodology or approach to the development of the product or service. The product or service had to be user-centred and adopt industry and government standards and protocols.  

A new methodology 

The Digital Incubator brings together industry, customers, partners and TMR employees to co-design solutions to challenges. All TMR business areas can bring their opportunities or challenges and easily form multi-disciplinary teams with industry partners. These teams use design thinking and agile approaches to develop products or services that meet customer needs and support an increasing digital capability. 

To help TMR business areas unfamiliar with this innovative approach, they co-designed a range of purpose-built tools. These include a Digital Initiative Lifecycle and Proof of Concept framework. 

The Incubator uses repeatable processes and governance models to allow reuse across government, including: 

  • an internal governance board of senior executives to maintain visibility 
  • a transparent innovation process including a new prototyping stage to encourage early experimentation 
  • values that encourage ‘fail fast and cheap’ 
  • a SharePoint portal providing transparency to all stakeholders

The Digital Incubator aligns with the Queensland Government’s DIGITAL1ST Strategy and sticks to all eight principles of the strategy. It is a response to the ‘Experiment, learn and improve’ principle. The Digital Incubator enables TMR business areas to: 

  • design solutions incrementally 
  • work in an agile and user-centred way 
  • build prototypes to test thinking and prove potential solutions

It is transforming the approach for tackling customer and business challenges and realising new digital opportunities across the department. 

Fast innovation 

The Digital Incubator has delivered more than 30 Proofs of Concept. In partnership with industry and customers, TMR business areas have quickly proven the feasibility and value of technological innovations, with little to no cost. 

Examples include: 

  • Robotic Process Automation to free staff from time-consuming data entry processes 
  • Augmented Reality to show landowners potential impacts to their properties with a 1:1 scale overlay using a mobile device 
  • drone technology and artificial intelligence for site inspections and surveys following natural disasters

We thank all nominees for this Award. It’s great to see digital transformation taking place across federal, state, and local government. 

For any questions about the Awards, please email awards@dta.gov.au 

Nicole Murphy is an event manager at the DTA.