Ten councils eye joint IRIS system

The project is led by Northland Regional Council and Environment Waikato, while another eight regional councils have expressed interest

A lack of options for replacing an ageing information management system at Northland Regional Council has led to a project in which 10 regional councils have collaborated to develop a new custom-built system.

The project is being led by Northland Regional Council and its Waikato counterpart, Environment Waikato, while another eight regional councils have expressed interest.

Northland Regional Council information manager Dean Cunningham says the council’s Infor (formerly Geac) Worksmart application has reached the end of its development lifecycle. Enhancements are difficult to get and technical support is becoming limited, he says.

The council looked at replacing Worksmart. “[But] our experience has shown that existing off-the-shelf systems in the local government market are based around the assessment and/or land parcel of a property, whereas our needs are primarily driven around a spatial association,” says Cunningham.

According to a council statement, regional councils’ needs are centred around environmental monitoring and other activities that require knowing the location of many activities, as well as where and how they’re taking place.

The council had Worksmart customised to meet this need when it first implemented it, says Cunningham.

When it was realised that Worksmart couldn’t be upgraded and there were few viable off-the-shelf alternatives, Northland Regional Council chief executive Ken Paterson approached other regional council heads about collectively tendering for a new customised system.

The new system envisaged is being called IRIS (Integrated Regional Information System) and an RFP (Request for Proposals) has been issued.

Responses are required by January 14, with the successful bidder to be selected in April.

The project is being led by Northland Regional Council and Environment Waikato, with eight other regional councils contributing to the costs of the RFP.

They are: Auckland Regional Council; Environment Bay of Plenty; Hawke’s Bay Regional Council; Horizons (which covers the Manawatu-Wanganui area); Taranakai Regional Council; Greater Wellington Regional Council; Environment Southland and West Coast Regional Council.

However, their involvement doesn’t as yet signify a commitment to use IRIS if and when it is developed. Each council would make its own decision as to whether to use the new system, says Paterson.

It is envisaged that IRIS will be up and running sometime in 2009.

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