Wodonga City Council provides responsive online services
One of Victoria’s fastest growing regional cities, Wodonga, has a municipal population of approximately 35,000 in a region of 170,000 people. The Wodonga City Council serves this rapidly growing provincial city and plays a vital role in raising community living standards through improved delivery of services to residents.
As part of its commitment to innovation, accessibility and top-level service, this local authority has introduced an online self-service system for requesting certificates. The system gives residents quick, easy access to council services and allows for a broader range of online services and information in the future.
Currently, residents and businesses can access a broad range of online e-services, including: accessing and requesting information, planning and property certificates; filing applications; checking the status of planning applications; and checking property information such as zones and overlays.
In providing its first e-service facility, the council faced a choice between developing its own online facility or purchasing a system from an outside source. The council recognised that it needed to integrate its new online self-service facility with the back-office systems it already used, namely Infor’s Pathway system. Pathway accepts, processes and responds to customer requests, payments and regulatory transactions while retaining full accountability and privacy through strong security and auditing. The council was already successfully using Pathway so it simply made sense to adopt the ePathway module.
Infor’s ePathway suite is an internet-enabled customer self-service interface for government agencies that have implemented Pathway. It allows agencies to: provide seamless access to relevant data and processes 24 hours a day; support fully automated, end-to-end processing for many service types; and reduce costs and improve timelines of servicing customer needs.
The council’s information services department implemented ePathway in consultation with its building, planning and rates departments, along with its local solicitor and conveyancing businesses. The main benefits that the council sought from ePathway include providing customers and ratepayers with a secure online service, and reducing the need for in-house customer operator intervention.
“We wanted an easy-to-use end-user system that was simple to navigate and administer,” says Paul Drummond, Geographic Information Systems Coordinator and Pathway Administrator, Wodonga City Council. The council also needed to deal with several critical business issues in order to offer an online solution. “There was no bank of in-house skills, so training was required,” Drummond says. “We also needed to move to a new SQLServer-based data management solution.” They also needed secure encryption software along with customised screens, tailored to meet the council’s specific requirements. The 18-month implementation program included testing the solution with a local solicitor, training in-house staff to administer and use the system, and customer training.
The ePathway online service now delivers numerous benefits for both the council and its customers. In the first 11 months, the use of ePathway resulted in an 85% increase in the proportion of certificate requests that originate online. That greatly simplifies certificate processing and saves time and money for both the council and its customers.
“Users are very happy with the turnaround times,” Drummond says.
Customers can now conduct their business in a timely manner through the ePathway service, which reduces time spent on requests and helps customers access information when they need it.
Ian Smithwick, Revenue Administrator, Wodonga City Council, says that the council saves approximately 15 minutes on each request under the ePathway system.
“A 20-minute application now takes about three minutes to process,” he says. The council processes approximately 200 land information certificates, and planning and building certificates each month. “Manual certificate processing was very time-consuming and very cumbersome. This time saving is very welcomed by the council because it allows staff to focus on their core responsibilities.”
The local business community also enjoyed important benefits from the new system. “By the time the customer started the manual request and got it to us you would be looking at a minimum of five working days,” says Smithwick. “Now it takes five minutes.”
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