What makes local government data so valuable? Accessibility, big data and analytics to inform better decision making

Group of cheerful students teenagers in casual outfits with note books and pdas are studying outdoors, sitting on a plaid on a green grass in park, enjoying

By Mark Matijevic

Imagine a world where core local government data was easily available and accessible. What radical changes could this create in the way councils deliver services to people in their community?

Councils hold a vast range of data on licences and permits (food, swimming pools, trade waste, outdoor dining for example), to applications for development approval, to property attributes, to parking, valuations, requests for services and rating information, to events, library services, geospatial and assets (roads, pipes, sewerage, parks, community halls).

But currently this data is often hard to access. It may be locked up in legacy systems making integration a time consuming and expensive proposition.

Why is it important to have better access to council data?

If this data was unlocked it could be linked to other available data such as real estate information, travel information, police, fire, health services, schools, social media sources, and environmental information from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT works by using sensors through devices and objects, which are connected through an IoT platform that sends critical data. This data can be used to identify patterns, trends and make recommendations and highlight issues before they occur. Many councils use IoT information now, but it’s not joined up with other sources of information. That lack of connectivity limits the ability of the councils to make effective use of the data.

Typically a councils’ information strategy is reliant on having access to multiple data-sets and sources. The core council data, such as rating information, parking, valuations and requests for service etc provides a substantial foundation for including the community and assets in the information strategy. It also allows councils to include partners, such as not-for profit organisations that are providing services to their community.

With council data more accessible, the information could be used to provide big data analytics, utilise Artificial Intelligence, and potentially integrate with third party providers allowing a community to be innovative. The real benefit would come from breaking down the barriers between data silos, merging massive amounts of pertinent information from numerous sources, and then using available technology to analyse it and then take appropriate action.

The impact of technology

Being able to use different data sets has been difficult in the past, due to various systems storing data, making it more difficult and time-consuming to get a complete and accurate picture.

The challenge for councils is having data stored in various systems which has created silos and difficulty merging data to aid in the decision-making process. The problem for many councils is most legacy systems have very limited APIs and to create them would take significant time and money.

How to fix this issue?

New technological solutions developed natively for the cloud use Application Programming Interface (APIs), which means the system is open to receiving data from any source and system. Councils can use any systems they like and connect easily through APIs. 

New solutions are being developed for local governments, and they have the potential to transform how a community operates and interacts with local councils.

We’ve got a great example of how councils can collect, use APIs and IOT devices, store data in one cloud-based system and provide better services to the community.  Read all about it https://www.datacomlocalgovt.co.nz/products/enterprise-resource-planning/datascape.aspx or contact us at lgsales@datacom.co.nz or lgsales@datacom.com.au

 

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