Across Australia, local governments are looking to maximise communication, collaboration and data-sharing to create more liveable, sustainable and smart communities.
But the uptake by government agencies to leverage shared data is hindered by a lack of awareness about the low-cost, ready-to-use technology options already available.
Many of these organisations are not even giving location technology a second look nor seeing that location is much more than just a simple pointer on a map. It’s the key to smarter operational awareness in government and the community. It is key to data management, as well as data discoverability and usability.
Gone are the days when government agencies acted solely as a one-way source of outbound data. In today’s connected world, data flows both ways – enabling citizens to interact with governments by receiving and contributing data. This helps create an accurate picture to drive evidence-based decisions.
The technology that enables collaboration and data sharing is often referred to as a ‘hub’ – which is simply the data platform that facilitates interaction between government and constituents.
In Western Australia, some agencies, such as the Road Safety Commission, are sharing real-time updates including photographs to help influence outcomes and drive relevant decision-making.
Another WA example of shared data in action is Smarter Planning Perth, which allows cross-agency collaboration for public works planning, reducing inconvenience to residents and cutting costs through better scheduling. This platform is currently used by local councils, gas, water, electricity utilities and state government agencies to work together to save costs and minimise impact to road users and traffic.
Extracting insights from location data is crucial for governments to deliver civic value and make positive changes.
Enabling a common method of accessing and sharing information can help the community and government gain outcomes that benefit both sides.
Former US presidential candidate and Mayor of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley applied a shared data policy to help facilitate his ‘new way of governing’, revitalising Baltimore’s public safety, education, health care and economic growth.
In New York, open data revealed that parked cars were being incorrectly ticketed every year to the tune of millions of dollars. The response by city leaders was an example of the potential for data-driven decisions to benefit both the city and the community. (You can hear Dr Amen Ra Mashariki speak about shared data and urban analytics at the Australian Esri User conference, Ozri.)
Where can you start? Out of the box solutions like the Local Government Access Program provide a platform that delivers immediate changes, with the scope to expand into more sophisticated networks in line with a city’s maturing digital awareness.
Shared data hubs can deliver improvements by integrating with existing systems.
So what are the immediate benefits of a shared data hub? Local councils can use location-based data to measure KPIs relating to response times – for example, attending to disaster-affected properties.
Electricity, gas and water utilities can use real-time data to track, monitor and maintain assets including poles, pipelines and cables, while also keeping track of mobile workers to monitor safety and effectively allocate work.
Multiple government agencies can save time and costs by linking to a single, shared data hub that provides up-to-date address data and property-use classifications, effectively reusing data already collected and verified and avoiding data duplication.
A smart shared data hub allows for constant, real-time updates, empowering city leaders to deliver effective decisions when – and where – they’re needed most.
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