OzTech: Sydney company makes quantum breakthrough; High-risk IT gaps in NSW councils; NSW puts $700M into digital tech; 87% of IT professionals consider leaving

OzTech Roundup is Computerworld Australia’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Sydney company makes quantum breakthrough

Sydney-based Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC) has created the first integrated circuit manufactured at the atomic scale two years ahead of schedule. The atomic-scale integrated circuit operates as an analogue quantum processor.

To achieve this breakthrough, SQC had to integrate multiple atomic components within a single device. This was done in three steps:

  1. It had to create small dots of atoms of uniform size so that their energy levels aligned and electrons could easily pass through them.
  2. It had to find the ability to tune the energy levels of each dot individually, but also of all dots collectively, to control the passage of quantum information.
  3. The team had to become able to control the distances between the dots with subnanometre precision so that the dots were close enough but remained independent for the quantum coherent transport of electrons across the chain.

SQC is the company that in 2012 said to have fabricated the world’s first single atom transistor.

The company branched out of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology (CQC2T) and launched in 2017 with $83 million funding from the Australian government, UNSW Sydney, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Telstra, and the New South Wales government. CQC2T and SQC are headed by 2018 Australian of the Year professor Michelle Simmons.

“Development of SQC’s atomic-scale circuit technology will allow the company and its customers to construct quantum models for a range of new materials, whether they be pharmaceuticals, materials for batteries, or catalysts. It won’t be long before we can start to realise new materials that have never existed before,” Simmons said in a statement.

Simmons said SQC created a “superbly” precise manufacturing technology, and this is a big step towards building a commercial quantum computer. It is also another step towards delivering an error-corrected processor.

Audit finds high-risk IT gaps in New South Wales councils

The latest financial audit of the New South Wales local government for 2021 has identified six high-risk matters relating to IT.

The financial audit reviews IT general controls relating to key financial systems supporting the preparation of council financial statements, addressing policies and procedures. The six areas with gaps were IT risk management; user access management; privileged user access restriction and monitoring; system software acquisition, change, and maintenance; disaster recovery planning; and cybersecurity and patch management.

There were 296 findings relating to IT, fewer than the previous audit’s 336 findings. Of those, 67% were repeat, partial repeat, or ongoing findings.

For the Bayside Council, the gaps found in the new financial system implementation process were considered high-risk.

Dubbo Regional Council’s IT access controls had gaps such as audit logs of privileged account activity that can be amended or deleted. A similar issue was found at the Greater Hume Shire Council and Lismore City Council where audit logs of privileged users are not maintained and reviewed, among other issues.

Nambucca Valley Council had gaps in the IT access controls, with issues such as no formal periodic review of user access rights to ensure access levels are commensurate with job responsibilities. And the Wagga Wagga City Council had multiple issues with the IT access controls, including generic accounts are being used and shared across users, no formal policies and procedures for monitoring and managing privileged users, and privileged-access activities unable to be generated in the asset-management system.

New South Wales invests $700M in digital technologies

A new fund will help drive productivity in digital technology, among others, as part of the New South Wales government’s 2022-2023 budget. From the $703.4 million Future Economy Fund, $142 million will be used to drive R&D and innovation growth in sectors where New South Wales believes to have a natural competitive advantage, such as quantum computing, and advancing collaboration with universities, CSIRO, and the private sector.

To support the commercialisation of products, services, and emerging digital technologies in fields that will grow the economy and provide targeted support to research institutions, startups, scaleups, and small and medium enterprises, the state government set aside $342.4 million.

The remaining $219 million will be used to accelerate growth and investment in priority industry sectors, such as modern manufacturing, medical tech, and defence and aerospace. This includes building local capability, securing high-value jobs, and generating productivity gains.

87% of IT professionals consider leaving their jobs every month

A recent survey, by online training provider Pluralsight, found that 87% of Australian IT respondents consider leaving their jobs every month — compared to 52% globally. The global survey interviewed 760 professionals undertaking IT training across the United States, Europe, Australia (80), and India.

Lack of career growth opportunities is driving 36% of Australian respondents to move on from their current jobs, while 48% said that professional growth and learning are the top reasons to consider a new job — ranking above higher compensation.

When it comes to skills of concern, 38% ranked cybersecurity as their top concern followed by 33% cloud computing and 31% data storage.

The survey also found that two thirds of Australian respondents consider their organisations’ willingness to dedicate resources for tech skills development affect their plans to stay.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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