Technology is changing service expectations across the community. People now expect to request, submit, complain or discuss something today and have it resolved instantly. They want to be able to self-serve, 24/7 to get the information they want, when they want it – without having to set foot in a council office. Councils across the world are facing this increasing challenge to meet expectations and be accessible, all while balancing the budget. Improving the way councils engage with stakeholders and the community through digital innovation is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity we have in local government today.
And in the next five years?
The accessibility challenge will only increase. As people’s expectations continue to grow, Council’s need to keep pace and constantly develop new service channels – via the Internet or through mobile technology to exceed demands and deliver services to the community.
How can technology help councils face those challenges?
Technology is the enabler. It improves transparency, efficiency and empowers the community. The adoption of a clear digital strategy, using technology as the enabler, will ensure the community, council employees and elected members understand the drivers, timeframes and deliverables. Allowing for self-service of information directly from the corporate system, such as providing online payments, production of certificates and electronic lodgment, will lower costs, remove duplication and reduce errors.
Software as a Service, or SaaS, is something we’re hearing about a lot lately. Can you explain what it is and how it might benefit councils?
Much like the provision of electricity or water, SaaS is now just another service. The computing power is housed in a large, secure, local data centre and councils simply buy the appropriate business software, hardware and support services to run its entire business without the need to manage the physical operation of it. With SaaS, the software provider takes care of running and updating the software and infrastructure, while also managing security, compliance and risk.
Removing the need to house large and expensive IT infrastructure on council premises immediately lowers the cost of using technology and delivering services. On average a typical council will refresh its very expensive in-house IT infrastructure every 3-4 years.
Having secure, highly available infrastructure that provides instant disaster recovery reduces the overall cost of ownership of delivering service through digital channels. SaaS also simplifies the decision to adopt smart mobile devices throughout the organisation – because with the right software, this capability is provided as standard from the cloud.
Is there an alternative for councils that are not comfortable taking up the SaaS option?
Though we are seeing a huge uptake in SaaS, many of our 300+ TechnologyOne local government customers are still managing infrastructure and software on their own premises. This is still a very viable option, particularly for councils in remote areas poorly serviced by broadband.
Last year, TechnologyOne acquired web-based mapping and spatial data software provider Digital Mapping Solutions (DMS). What new applications are you now able to, or are planning to, deliver to councils based on this technology?
TechnologyOne strengthened its local government solution with three acquisitions in 2015. ICON Software, DMS and Jeff Roorda and Associates round out our OneCouncil offering for ePlanning, spatial and Strategic Asset Management respectively.
IntraMaps from DMS is the leading GIS web viewing application for Australian local government. IntraMaps is now part of TechnologyOne Spatial, headed up by DMS MD David Baxter. TechnologyOne IntraMaps is browser-based, which means it is quick and responsive, and customers no longer need to manage client software or updates. Our council customers can focus less on how to manage the software, and more on maximising the software to improve business processes and productivity. David and his team are continuing to work on mobile delivery, 3D visualisation and integration to data collection devices such as drones and LIDAR as well as many new capabilities.
Can you give us an example of how you have worked with a new local government client in the last 12 months?
Toowoomba Regional Council went to market seeking an integrated, enterprise solution that would enable it to transform its business from a manual, paper-based organisation, and bring it into the digital world. The council implemented our OneCouncil solution, including Financials, Asset Management and Human Resource & Payroll, as part of a transformational project to become a digital local government.
The solution has enabled Toowoomba Council to streamline its processes, reduce costs and provide employees with self-service access to everyday tasks. It has saved at least three days every month in payroll and significantly improved the visibility and quality of its financials information for executives. The council is also expecting a savings of $2.5 million per annum by improving its strategic and operational asset management.
You can read to full story on Toowoomba Council here - https://www.technologyonecorp.com/case-studies/studies/toowoomba-regional-council/