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From horses to halflings, New Zealand's Waikato community is home to creatures big and small. It's also home to 35,000 residents, with over half living in one of the region's three main towns – Matamata, Morrinsville, and Te Aroha.
Matamata-Piako District Council wanted to increase its engagement with the community and to be able to send relevant information to small groups rather than rely on groups finding specific information for themselves.
The council also wanted the community to have an opportunity to talk to the council more about their issues.
To do both, the council chose Antenno, a mobile app developed by Datacom to support council and communities simultaneously.
Antenno gives councils the opportunity to send targeted notifications to specific people based on the places and topics they care about. Equally, citizens can use the app to let the council know if they spot an issue, such as a pothole or graffiti, or if they have any suggestions.
"Antenno makes people feel that the app is a trustworthy source and that they are going to get the information they need," says Sheree O'Brien, customer services manager, Matamata-Piako District Council.
The council began by teaching its own staff how to use the app. As citizens too, staff already knew the area well, from its businesses to its schools, and farms to stables. When the app was ready for the public, the staff were then able to teach them in sessions at council offices and libraries.
Thousands of residents have since downloaded the app, with the peak coming as the first COVID-19 lockdown loomed in March 2020.
Throughout the pandemic period, the council have used specifically created categories and functions in relation to the coronavirus to inform the community at short notice about the latest updates, such as a change to rubbish collection times. The council have also been able to share posts onto Facebook through Antenno, helping it to reach out to more parts of the community and encourage residents to download the app.
It has meant the community have been kept updated and safe during this year and this unexpected journey.