Every year the Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) host a web and digital conference (this year it was deftly merged with the customer experience/service conference). This conference includes several awards across several categories. I was lucky enough to attend ALGIM this year, and wanted to share some of the projects going on across councils across the country.
Best use of intranet
Winner: Building a new Engine Room
Auckland Transport built a new intranet using multiple rounds of feedback:
- analytics analysis
- validating the requirements document with users
- designs and wireframes tested and iterated with users
- build pre-production site tested and iterated with user
- production site tested and iterated with users
- soft-launch with changes based on feedback
Runner up: Upgrade using WordPress and Themler
Hauraki District Council
The Hauraki District Council Intranet Upgrade project replaced the existing council intranet, established in 1998 using Microsoft Frontpage, with a new innovative and modern intranet with added functionality:
- a search function that really works
- a knowledge base for customer service articles
- colour-coded widget areas on the homepage for easy identification
- easy user tools to create groups, discussions, messaging and classified ads
- integration with active directory which automatically populates user profiles and their details
- integration enables all documents to open directly from their EDRMS ensuring the latest current version and eliminating duplication
The upgrade has increased usage of the intranet and staff are enthusiastically using the new features for information sharing and collaborative work spaces.
Hauraki Council selected WordPress and Themler to create the new intranet, after reviewing it along with SilverStripe and Sharepoint.
The easy to use CMS is available to multiple editors, bloggers and customised roles. The use of surveys, forms and analytics plugins provide ongoing usability feedback and analysis.
They selected WordPress as it:
- is the most used CMS on the planet
- is FREE
- has more than 50,000 plugins to choose from (of which they used 20)
- provides ongoing flexibility to control layout
- was only $150 for an unlimited licence.
Best use of social media or app
Winner: Emergency Response Building App (ERBA)
After the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the Marlborough District Council had been working on an Emergency Response Building App (ERBA): a tool to empower field crews and command centres to pinpoint areas of damage and assign resources during an event.
They were set to soft launch and begin training the week of on 14 November.
At 12:02am on 14 November the Kaikoura earthquake hit.
The app was given to ground crews.
“It proved effective in this real emergency situation, improving data collection methods and data integrity. It created real-time, shared intelligence from data easily sharable between agencies and has future potential to provide a comprehensive overview of data from multiple agencies. It enables rapid strategic distribution of cross-agency resources to trouble spots.”
Runner up: The Need for Speed — Faster Alerts to Multiple Channels
Northland Regional Council
During a civil defence event, the time taken to upload content to a range of platforms is paramount. The Northland CDEM Group saw the opportunity to consolidate multiple platforms behind one of its primary alerting avenues, the Red Cross Hazard app. They have taken advantage of the consistency provided by the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message structure. Sending an alert on the Red Cross Hazard App now updates multiple platforms (website, Facebook and Twitter) without requiring any further input any Council staff.
Finalist: Story Hunters — Harnessing our Heroes
Northland Regional Council
The Northland Regional Council needed a way to increase the capacity of their team to produce compelling video content for their social media channels, without an increase to their budget or staff numbers.
This programme involves identifying appropriate staff and then training and working with them to provide video content that would be used to communicate their customer service objectives for their social media channels. Although this campaign used technology and communication platforms that have been around for a while, the key innovation about this project was the training and empowerment of staff outside the communications and marketing teams to become video journalists.
In the first seven months of 2017 the Council had almost doubled their video production numbers of all of 2016 (and there were still five months to go). This has also contributed to a 237% increase in followers on Facebook.
Project of the year
Winner: Pest Control Hub
Northland Regional Council
Pest management is an important focus area for the Northland Regional Council. The new Pest Control Hub section of their website provides pest control advice and services to their customers. The section contains animal, plant and marine pest information on species relevant for Northland and uses a “Pinterest”-style interface to display the information.
“I have been interested in invasive species for a long time, specifically their impact on the intertidal zone […] I am continually looking for and sharing with teachers information and resources that they can use with their seashore studies and your Pest Control Hub web site has proved to be invaluable!! Well laid out, easy to follow and full of relevant information. The photos and videos are brilliant but I also commend you on presenting accurate information in a manner that is easy to comprehend by a variety of ages […] It is a resource that schools across the country could be using as many of the marine species covered are not restricted to Northland. I have highlighted it […] and I hope to feature the great work the NRC is doing with schools […] Northland Regional Council is leading the way. I feel strongly that citizen scientists can influence environmental change and it is great to see NRC is working with the community in such a positive and proactive way. Well done!”
-Sally Carson — Director — New Zealand Marine Studies Centre, Department Of Marine Science — University Of Otago
Runner up: Migration of MDC website to Sphere Content Manager
Marlborough District Council
This project’s success came from the team’s strong trust and collaborative working relationships. The outcome was significant cost benefits for the Council, future-proofing through Content-as-a-Service, which includes an API with the potential to feed into other platforms, and increased reliability by hosting in Amazon’s AWS.
Finalist: Helping People to Help Themselves
Waipa District Council
As a way of increasing engagement with their community, Waipa District Council created three online tools that aim to increase understanding of Council and make it easy to do business with them — while not forgetting to have a bit of fun along the way. The three sites are:
- www.waipatikitour.co.nz — to inform the community about what the Council does
- www.investwaipa.co.nz — collaborating with the local Chambers of Commerce to help people start businesses in Waipa
- www.whatsonwaipa.co.nz — to promote events in Waipa and to help make running events as easy as possible
Supreme website award
“The results for this award are based on an evaluation of participating in New Zealand council websites against New Zealand Government Web Standards, ALGIM’s Self Assessment Council Website Survey, the Blind Foundation testing the accessibility of each Council website, Enquiry Response testing and Best Practice Review including mobile responsive design.”
Winner (third year in a row!): Whakatāne District Council
Other miscellaneous niftiness
Timaru’s chatbot “Tim”
Timaru District Council are launching a chatbot ‘Tim’ on their website. Tim’s job is to answer customers’ most common queries 24/7, following a script that the Customer Services team can update, based on analytics of actual usage and seasonal topics such as dog licensing. User testing indicates Tim saves users around 26 seconds — as opposed to browsing or searching the council’s website. Tim was developed over 4 weeks, and runs on the council’s web content management system.
Antenno at South Waikato
People decide what (and where) is important to them, and using Antenno the South Waikato community can get customised notifications specifically tailored for them. Antenno alerts citizens about:
- rubbish and recycling days so that people don’t forget to put their bags and crates out
- Council events happening around the district
- road accidents and/or closures that assist our community with their travel plans
- rates and dog registration reminders
- and much more.