The local authorities of Auckland – seven territorial local authorities and the regional council – have achieved a “high measure of co-operation” in establishing some common standards and a single regional portal.
But sharing or commonality of applications is a good way further off, if it is ever achieved, says Tony Rogers of North Shore City Council, one of the chief movers of the project.
“Two years ago, we established a joint working party, with one representative from each of the authorities, to establish some co-ordination.” The initiative, he says, “sprang from the desire not to reinvent wheels, and not to come up with systems that were vastly different".
Cost, besides, is always a consideration, Rogers says. The more the authorities can develop in common, the more cost will be saved.
The regional portal basically just provids a gateway through to the eight individual sites, he says. But co-operation has gone deeper into the councils’ systems. They have adopted common web standards, derived from those of the State Services Commission's ’e-government unit, says Rogers. Meta-data standards and authentication practices are also being adopted from the same source. The meta-data adopts the central government NZGLS schema and consistent thesauri for local government terms.
Sharing of applications, however, is not practical. “We all have different investment cycles, and the applications we’ve adopted are disparate.” If a council has just spent $1 million on an SAP implementation, he says, they’re hardly likely to be receptive of other councils deciding to impose a different ERP standard. “Sovereignty comes into it.”
But adoption of interoperability standards, again on the central e-government model, will allow one council to dip directly into another’s data resources, without going through a conversion process. The move towards interoperability is set for later this year.
North Shore’s own priorities are threefold. “Replacing our ageing information management system [supplied by Geac in 1986 and no longer supported by the vendor], bringing cocument management into the IMS, and web-enabling of services, allowing ratepayers to examine records – with rates and property in the front line – and to submit applications for various permits online."
GIS should have begun to make progress by the end of the year, he says. This is a much more technically complex area, through it has made strides in practical aspects such as file sizes in the past few years.