Australian recipient of the LG Professionals Australia International Professional Exchange Program
Many Australian councils will also relate to this: After a devastating upslope forest fire followed by torrential rain, parts of Flagstaff experienced extensive flooding that closed major roads and forced families to leave their homes. A site-specific engineering solution with considerable excavation works was developed to avoid such a crisis happening again. It involved extensive community consultation, until all parties in each of the affected watersheds were comfortable with the land acquisitions required for the construction of new berms, drains and water detention structures.
Luckily the Coconino County Health District was already working in collaboration with the Coconino County Department of Information Technology to design a Food Services Inspection Website. Five listening sessions with the owners of licensed food establishments were scheduled throughout Coconino County in September 2016. Gaining food service industry feedback was very important to the Health District, and staff presented a draft Automated Beta System to participants. It was emphasised that the beta site was only a starting point, with feedback received during the Listening Sessions incorporated into the final design.
The Food Services Inspection Website is now awaiting approval from the elected members (Board of Supervisors) before going live, but there is also the opportunity to incorporate additional information into the portal such as menus and other marketing materials. As part of this process the Health District has also been looking at transferring to an automated inspection system. Currently, all health inspections are performed using paper double-sheet forms, with one copy provided to the owner/manager and the original brought back to the office to be entered into an internal database before being filed. In keeping with best practice and to provide improved environmental outcomes, the Health District would also like to move towards automation of food inspection reports. These could then be automatically entered into the internal database, and easily uploaded to an online portal following quality control.
This response to a public health issue has the potential to provide various additional benefits – improved accuracy in reporting, improved staff efficiencies, environmental benefits, free advertising opportunities for local food businesses, and the incentive for those businesses not 'up to scratch' to tidy up their act!
I think this is a great example of what local governments around the world are doing all the time. Thinking outside the square – and trying to keep everyone happy!