Tauranga District Council has launched an ambitious Web site, incorporating access to the public library catalogue and maps designed for use by professionals.
It will also enable the public to find their way to a destination before leaving home.
Prior to the Web site launch, professionals - like surveyors and solicitors - in need of maps would use a terminal at the front counter of the council’s offices to view them and order hard copies, says land information manager Waid Crockett. Now they can do the same without leaving their office.
The professional mapping service - WebView Plus - is provided on a pay-per-view basis, but the less-sophisticated map service provided to the general public (WebView) is free of charge.
Tauranga is the first local authority to include maps to the level of detail provided, Crockett claims.
The public can tell from the maps where reserves are, and on what day the rubbish is collected in a particular area.
"You can type in a street-name and [the system] will zoom straight to it,” he says.
With a Web interface superimposed on the libraries’ Dynex cataloguing system, the user can locate a book by a variety of keys (title, author, etc) and see which library it is in and how many copies are available.
“By putting in your library card number and a PIN, you can reserve books, or check and change your personal details, all on the PC.”
This, he acknowledges, is not unique. Other local authorities provide the same level of service from their libraries.
The Tauranga Web site was created economically, Crockett says.
“Development cost of equivalent sites typically runs into six figures,” he says.
“We had a budget of $46,000, and we came in below it. The mapping only cost us $5,000.”
The site also includes aerial photographs of the district and a collection of photographs showing how it has changed over time, as well as the expected local government information.
More improvements will follow, probably on a six-monthly upgrade basis, Crockett says. People may soon be able to lodge applications for building consents and the like online.