Asian Surveying & Mapping
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May 27th, 2014
Council Mergers ‘Once in Generation’ Opportunity, Says Mapping Expert

“The new WA councils will be working from a clean slate with the advantage of pooled resources,” Mr Johnson said in his briefing to WA mayors and industry executives at AIIA’s Executive Lunch Forum in Perth today.

“As a result of the mergers, WA ratepayers will demand their councils provide smarter and more efficient services – which can be delivered through the innovative use of technology.

“New technologies are changing citizens’ expectations about their dealings with local government in terms of exchanging information and the way services are delivered.

“For example City of Gold Coast is using a smartphone location-aware technology to enable residents to quickly report issues – such as graffiti, abandoned cars and shopping trolleys – from anywhere at any time of the day.

“Once an issue is reported, the app provides council with the capability to update the user on the progress of the report and provide feedback if further information is required.

“This cutting-edge technology is transforming traditional customer service models by providing two-way reporting capabilities, so ratepayers can bypass call centres entirely.

“It is a prime example of how WA could use this once in a generation chance to revitalise from within and would certainly excite Perth’s residents.”

Mr Johnson said smart mapping software – widely known as Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – could also fast-track the merging process.

“The first big challenge of the reforms will be for previously separate councils to integrate and enhance their services and responsibilities,” Mr Johnson said.

“GIS technology can help councils pool and manage their data centrally and securely, by drawing on the common factor of location to provide a single point of truth and eliminate duplication of services.

“Access to data can also be extended to large numbers of employees, partners and ratepayers via user-friendly Internet, Intranet and mobile portals.”

Mr Johnson said the same technology is already being used to facilitate international business and government mergers.

“This approach has been proven at the highest levels across banks and other financial institutions around the world,” Mr Johnson said.

“Similarly, in the case of Durham County Council in North East England, GIS technology was used to successfully amalgamate seven councils – covering almost 500,000 residents – into one.”