A 2017 Civica and UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance report surveyed 200 professionals from across various departments within local government councils, state departments and infrastructural organisations from Australia and New Zealand.
The report revealed that digital transformative change is impeded by limited working budgets (70 per cent), organisational culture (65 per cent) and speed of technological change (37 per cent).
Difficulty in matching user expectations (32 per cent) and conservative leadership (25 per cent) were also listed as barriers.
In all the years we have been working with Western Australia local governments, we have certainly come across all these impediments before. But, the exception came when we sat down with the City of Cockburn.
Growing at an average 3% per year, the City of Cockburn is a diverse and fast-expanding city with a population of more than 100,000 — one of Western Australia’s larger councils.
Their mission is to become ‘the most attractive place to live, work, visit and invest in the Perth metropolitan area.
Our story with the City of Cockburn begins in March 2017 when the City set a clear target to transform Cockburn into a smart, technology-driven city. This was a council that knew what it wanted to become but wasn’t sure how.
Using a GIS platform as a key enterprise technology that would drive the city forward, the council was on a mission to improve community outreach and engagement, leverage and apply more sophisticated planning technologies, and efficiently manage their field crews.
It’s important at this stage to share the council’s existing IT capabilities in order to accurately illustrate the size of the transformation the council had elected to undertake.
At the time of our first conversation, the council was using a number of isolated systems to run their business and with limited integration and collaborative capabilities, the systems did not meet their current and future requirements.
From the call centre to the planners and from the field crews to the asset managers, the council was entrenched in the way they were working, which they had identified as inefficient, but it was the way things had been done for years.
Delivering the integrated and collaborative platform that would meet council’s needs was not as easy as swapping out the old for the new — the process took time to offer and test solutions, secure buy-in and manage their transformation.
Working with a subset of council employees, the journey began with Esri Australia’s consulting team working to understand the council’s business drivers and their multidisciplinary use of spatial technology. Opportunities for improvement were identified and relevant solutions designed.
A Proof of Concept phase demonstrated the benefits of the offered solution — such as improved user experience and an enriched decision-making process — to stakeholders across the council and ensured their buy-in.
The value of the business transformation was evident to the council and the City of Cockburn made the decision to join Esri Australia’s Local Government Access Program which provided the technology and resourcing to achieve their goals.
Whilst it might be early days in their full transformation process, with the first servers stood up and data migration already occurring there are certainly lessons to be learned about how local councils can manage technology change from the City of Cockburn’s journey so far.