Digital platform wins at municipal technology awards

By David Donaldson

Wednesday March 27, 2019

An open source platform for digital government services and data storage has taken out the national achievement award at the Municipal Association of Victoria technology awards for excellence.

GovCore, a collaboration between the City of Melbourne and Code for Australia, won across three categories at the Tuesday night awards ceremony: strategy and planning achievement of the year, Victorian achievement of the year, and Australian achievement of the year.

The idea behind GovCore is to create an information management system that can be used to run a council. It will be an open source platform built on robust, scalable, big data technology, designed to maximise innovation in customer experience, data management and business process automation.

At present, the technology solutions available to local governments are built on pre-digital technology, and tend to be rigid and difficult to change — or are designed for the private sector and need to be adapted to fit council needs, often at a high price. GovCore aims to be “for councils, by councils”.

Being an open source platform will mean the work and learnings of one agency can be leveraged others, and councils won’t be locked in to a single, expensive vendor. It also means the platform can be adapted much more easily and cheaply than traditional setups.

MAV President Councillor Coral Ross said councils were demonstrating innovative technology solutions for transforming both their business operations and community service delivery.

“The foresight demonstrated in these initiatives had significant positive outcomes for communities, and other councils will greatly benefit from the knowledge and sharing of these best practice projects.”

The award winners, announced at the MAV ‘Riding the Wave’ technology conference in Geelong, were:

Smart City Achievement of the Year

  • Winner: City of Ballarat for “Right to the Night”
    Only around 40% of Ballarat residents agree they feel safe walking alone in their local area after dark — significantly less than the Victorian average. The Right to the Night project uses an online geospatial platform for women and girls to share their experiences with designers and developers responsible for strategic investment in community public infrastructure and public realm assets. Data analysis has identified consistent themes, which are being used to make improvements across Ballarat and further afield.

Strategy and Planning Achievement of the Year

  • Winner: City of Melbourne for “GovCore”

Customer Experience Achievement of the Year

  • Winner: Glen Eira City Council for “Footpath Trading Permits”
    Since launching a new process for applying for a new footpath trading permit in January, the average approval time has fallen from a 126 days to just 11 days.

Collaboration or Partnership of the Year

  • Winner: Glen Eira City Council for “Digitising High Priority Transactions”
    The council’s goal was to improve service delivery by providing customers with the option to complete high priority transactions online with a consistent experience. This translated into digitising their top 14 transactions — customer requests, applications, registrations, certificates — within a year. Digitising more than 35,000 transactions saw a financial benefit of almost $550,000 to council. There have been additional cost benefits to the community with the reduction of processing time, enabling the equivalent of 13.5 full-time staff to be reallocated in the organisation to focus on community activities and projects.

Victorian Achievement of the Year

  • Winner: City of Melbourne for “GovCore”

Australian Achievement of the Year

  • Winner: City of Melbourne for “GovCore”

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