With 91 per cent of Australians and 93 per cent of New Zealanders owning smartphones and millions of dollars being invested in digitally-enabled infrastructure such as smart parking meters and smart bike lanes, our communities have never been so connected. As a result, environmental management, health services, building, planning, social services, park management and transport are becoming more enmeshed in ways that the structure of many councils is yet to reflect.
Whether it was organising the rubbish collection or granting planning approvals, councils have historically used discrete directorates to facilitate these fairly straightforward tasks and given these directorates the hardware and software suited to their needs. The planning and environment team, for instance, would store their data in a land information system. The infrastructure team, on the other hand, would rely on an asset management system to stay on top of projects, maintenance and repairs.
As local government becomes more multifaceted and its tasks grow in complexity and breadth, these systems are multiplying at speed. Today, a single council might host dozens or even hundreds of discrete applications, with siloed data repositories and unintegrated operating systems slowing down activities across the organisation.
But the citizens of today don’t have the patience to repeat their details to representatives working off databases that don’t speak to each other. Employees don’t have time to navigate multiple systems to find an answer to a simple question. And in-house IT teams don’t have the resources to effectively manage an increasingly complex technological environment.