Agency innovation | ACMA

Agency innovation

It is a core role and competency of a world-class converged regulator to interrogate the shape and effectiveness of its regulatory practice and 'tool box' in the evolving communications and media world. Taking account of its context of 'broken concepts', and regulatory stresses explored above, the ACMA has undertaken an intensive review of regulatory best practice and examined the circumstances of effectivegul co-reation, citizen engagement, and the role of evidence, and provided guidance to stakeholders about effectively presenting evidence relevant to regulatory outcomes. Such work assists the agency to adapt its current structures and activities to the imperatives of convergence, as well as underwriting the necessary regulatory development to build bridges to the future.

Regulatory Best Practice Research

The ACMA's regulatory best practice research work aims to enhance the ACMA's regulatory activities, by ensuring that the ACMA is well-informed on key developments relating to regulatory best practice and actively incorporates this in its day-to-day business. As part of the ACMA's research and reporting program, this ongoing body of work will inform the ACMA's strategic regulatory development in a converged and constantly changing digital environment. It assists the ACMA to fulfil its role of providing advice to government, as well as contributing to broader discussion within the organisation and with external stakeholders about effective regulation in an environment of change and transition.

Projects within this stream of work have examined:

  • the optimal conditions for effective self- and co-regulatory arrangements
  • the rise of citizen concepts in public policy and regulation
  • the key international developments in communications and media regulation
  • a resource kit of various ACMA and Australian government best practice guides
  • the theory and practice of evidence-based policy.

To continue reading the case study, click here

Demonstration of technical and engineering competencies of the agency support its effective leadership role in the convergent digital environment. Innovation in the technical activities of the agency is an important part of that demonstration. This has been the case in the technical support provided by the ACMA for the digital television transition. The agency has supported a major program in the context of government policy and a major technology shift for both industry and consumers.

Digital television-Coverage Evaluation Program

The Coverage Evaluation Program (CEP) has been developed by the ACMA to enable the government to evaluate digital television coverage and reception throughout Australia as part of the switchover (or transition) from analog to digital television broadcasting by the end of 2013. The CEP was designed around a set of best practice principles recognised by the Council of Australian Governments, and uses a combination of computer modelling, field surveys, and complex statistical and engineering analysis to assess the extent and effectiveness of rollout and coverage of digital television services in Australia.

The Australian television market is unusual for its high reliance on terrestrial reception of free-to-air television. The majority of Australian viewers rely solely on free-to-air terrestrial transmission to receive television services and there is a policy concern, reflected in legislation, that all viewers able to receive analog terrestrial television should also be able to receive digital television (the 'same coverage' requirement). The ACMA's CEP presents a fascinating study of the engineering and policy challenges posed by those simple words 'same coverage' and how best practice principles were used to design a CEP that generates the greatest benefit for the government, industry stakeholders and community.

The CEP has been designed to deliver evidence-based advice to the government on the progress of the transition to digital television. This includes advice on same coverage assessment, information about reception issues in signal-deficient areas and self-help retransmission facilities and television coverage data to support government communications and asssistance activities. Utilising a unique sampling methodology, the CEP ensures the greatest level of (statistical) confidence that the results best represent the total household population within Australia. Combination of state-of-the-arts technology for collecting a large amount of field data within short timeframes, affordability of computer predictions and the determination of the degree of correlation between field sampling and coverage modelling are key features of the ACMA's approach.

The main principles established by the CEP can be easily applied to many areas across the radiocommunications industry and spectrum management. The program has developed a field survey measurements system, including a measurement automation system and unique field sampling methodology, that increases measurement efficiency five-fold over manual measurement and recording methods. These developments have attracted the interest of Rhode and Schwarz, a renowned world market leader in wireless communications, broadcasting and electronics.

More than 104,000 measurements in over 13,000 locations have so far been carried out under the CEP, resulting in comprehensive reports covering 20 switchover areas. The program has provided essential support for the successful switchover in the first regions in Australia to switch off analog television. It has also provided vital data for the Australian's Government's mySwitch web application, developed to assist viewers to determine their coverage by entering address details, and for the Australian Government's Digital Switchover Taskforce administration of a satellite subsidy scheme. Some of the program's key ideas have the potential to live much longer than the scheduled end of the program in 2013.

To continue reading the case study, click here

Engaging another contemporary, less well-defined, but clearly urgent problem, the ACMA has demonstrated technical leadership and innovative capacity in the development of the Australian Internet Security Initiative. Collecting and actioning extensive datasets confirms the activity of the ACMA as an evidence-informed and informing regulator. This initiative has also explored new ways of regulating (based in extensive and successful stakeholder engagement) to secure unique voluntary cooperation from Australian ISPs and extend international cooperation through informal networks.

The Australian Internet Security Initiative (AISI)

The ACMA developed the Australian Internet Security Initiative (AISI) in 2005 with the objective of protecting Australian internet users from the major cybersecurity problem of 'botnets'. The role of the AISI in the context of the Australian Government's cybersecurity strategy is explained. Also discussed are some of the complexities in addressing computer 'infections' reported through the AISI, including steps taken by the ACMA and industry to assist customers to remove infections.

The AISI has been strongly supported by Australian ISPs, with 104 ISPs and 13 universities currently participating. These  represent well over 90 per cent of Australian residential internet users. No other voluntary government initiative involving Australian ISPs has attracted such a high level of membership.

The AISI is an example of a different way of operating within the ACMA-international cooperation through informal networks and the unique, voluntary cooperation of Australian ISPs.

To continue reading the case study, click here

There is international recognition of the innovative role the ACMA plays n e-ssecurity. For example, in a paper on combating cybercrime published in April 2011, Paypal described the AISI an an excellent model that should be adopted elsewhere in the world, commenting that:

It [the AISI program] has been an extremely effective tool at protecting consumers as well as a great example of public/private cooperation. Moreover, it has been run on an amazingly small budget - the entire ACMA AISI team is about half a dozen people.

Another ACMA Agency innovation activity where world's best practice is emerging is described below:

Total welfare standard test adoption In making judgements about what regulatory approach to a given issue is in the public interest, a total welfare standard requires that, to the extent possible, all significant benefits and costs arising from the regulatory proposal will be given the same weight regardless of the identity of the recipient.

Further Agency innovation activities which the ACMA is working to move closer to the identified standard are in the table below:

Research program including best-practice regulatory review and reform The ACMA maintains a research program to identify and analyse international, industry, consumer and citizen regulatory developments and to maintain information and awareness of relevant issues. Aspirational
Gov 2.0-data availability Consistent with its approach to Gov 2.0 strategies, the ACMA will continue to 'open up' data sets and research to the public, as it did with the 2009-10 Communications report series. Aspirational
Gov 2.0 engagement with online collaboration tools and social media Recognising that many of our stakeholders and users prefer to reach us through social media and other digital channels, a key challenge for the ACMA is redeploying its communication resources to meet those challenges and use those channels itself. In development
Upgrading and replacing the ACMA's core business systems The ACMA's business delivery is being transformed through the implementation of up-to-date and consolidated ICT infrastructure and business systems. In development

Last updated: 20 May 2016