A new draft version of an “e-local government strategy” amended to take into account the Government’s recently released Digital Strategy is scheduled to emerge in July.
The local government strategy was issued in first draft in 2003. Jan Rivers, coordinator of the strategy, says it is being “reworked and relaunched” in the light of what the Government has proposed in its own strategy.
The Digital Strategy places some emphasis on work to be done at community level to facilitate local people’s access to and creation of information. In the light of this, libraries, for example, need to look carefully at the ways they can serve their communities well through electronic means, Rivers says.
The working party drafting the strategy includes representatives from the range of local government organisations, both specifically digital in their focus (the Association and Society of Local Government Information Managers, ALGIM and SOLGIM and Local Government Online) and more general bodies such as Local Government New Zealand.
Topic maps are likely eventually to be an important tool for local authorities to make pertinent information more easily available to their constituents, Rivers says.. Interest in the subject has waxed and waned over the past few years, and it is her impression that it is currently rather subdued. “But someone will eventually take up the ball and run with it.”
While the different ways local authorities organise their district plans, reports and other documents present an opportunity for topic maps to overlay a consistent access framework, this disparity is also a barrier to implementing any nationwide tool. “Central government is well-funded to do such collaborative things,” she says. “Local government is not.”