Imagine a world where core local government data was easily available and accessible. What radical changes could this create in the way councils deliver services to people in their community?  

Councils hold a vast range of data on licences and permits (for example, food, swimming pools, trade waste, outdoor dining), applications for development approval, property attributes, parking, valuations, requests for services and rating information, events, library services, geospatial, and assets (roads, pipes, sewerage, parks, community halls).  

But currently, this data is often hard to access. It may be locked up in legacy (ageing) systems, making integration a time-consuming and expensive proposition.   

Why is it important to have better access to council data? 

If data was unlocked, it could be linked to other available data obtained on Internet of Things (IoT) devices, for example, such as information about real estate, travel, police, fire and health services, schools, social media sources, and the environment.

IoT works by using sensors in devices and objects. These are then connected through an IoT platform which sends critical data. This data can be used to identify patterns and trends, make recommendations, and highlight issues before they occur. Many councils use IoT information now, but it’s not connected with other sources of information. That lack of connectivity limits the ability of councils to make effective use of the data.  

Typically a councils’ information strategy is reliant on having access to multiple data sets and sources. The core data a council collects, such as rating information, parking, valuations and requests for service, etc. provides a substantial foundation to allow the community and assets to be part of this strategy. It also allows councils to include partners, such as not-for-profit organisations, who provide services to the community.  

If council data was more accessible, the information could be used to provide large volumes of data analytics and potentially connect and integrate with artificial intelligence (AI) and potentially third-party providers. The real benefit would come from breaking down the barriers between data silos, merging massive amounts of pertinent information from numerous sources, and then using available technology to analyse it and take appropriate action. 

The impact of technology 

Being able to use different data sets has been difficult in the past due to various systems storing data and making it more difficult and time-consuming to get a complete and accurate picture.  

The challenge for councils is having data stored in various systems. This creates silos and increases the difficulty to merge data to aid in the decision-making process. The problem for many councils is most legacy systems have very limited application programming interfaces (APIs) and to create them would take significant time and money. 

How to fix this issue? 

New technological solutions developed natively for the cloud use APIs to keep systems open to receive data from any source. Councils can use any systems they like and connect easily through APIs.  

New solutions are being developed for local governments, and they have the potential to transform how a community operates and interacts with local councils. 

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