Councils get together on software development

Regional councils are working together on application development in an effort to lower software costs.

Regional councils are working together on application development in an effort to lower software costs.

Horizons.mw, formerly the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council, is going live with an intranet-based booking system which six of the other regional councils are looking at using.

At an annual meeting last year of regional council IT managers, representatives agreed to build an intranet-based system for managing bookings of vehicles, meeting rooms, IT equipment, TVs and other assets that could be used by any of 12 councils. The resulting system, which was built by horizons.mw’s website developers, Palmerston North-based Unlimited Realities, is being offered to the others with an unlimited seat licence for less than $1000 a site. The regional councils of Canterbury, Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Southland, Otago and Waikato are now evaluating the system.

Meanwhile, Datacom in Hamilton has created for Environment Waikato a software development cycle management system called Web-Bits which will also be offered to other councils.

For the past six years Environment Waikato and horizons.mw have been developing a council management system used by six of the regional councils including Southland, Otago, West Coast and Taranaki. At the time development started about six years ago there was nothing available commercially, says horizons.mw IT manager Peter Ellery, who labels himself a great believer in working together on projects.

“We wanted to give the ratepayers the best value for money so we sold it to other regional councils. They buy into a consortium and the money goes towards a development pool,” says Ellery.

“The intention is not to make a profit but to reinvest in software development.” There is no annual licensing fee and it is much lower cost than a shrink-wrapped management system, he says.

There are now 28 modules including contacts, names and addresses; land parcel management, firearms management and a spatial repository ‘places’ module and the system runs on MS SQL and Oracle. Ellery says the councils usually contract Datacom to build the modules using PowerBuilder.

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