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Local Government officers learn about mobile apps and the cloud

Local Government officers learn about mobile apps and the cloud

Lateral | 9/10/2013
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Today Regional Development Australia (RDA) Perth, the Digital Economy Branch of the Department of Commerce and Lateral Solutions joined together to hold Module Three of the Digital Knowledge Series for Local Governments in Maylands at RDA’s premises.

This series, made possible through the Digital Enterprise Program, has been designed specifically for local government officers to gain knowledge in the digital space. It makes local government departments aware of digital opportunities and gives them a level of confidence so they can act as consultants when engaging with local businesses and the community.

In the first module, a speaker of NBNCo was engaged, while the second module provided an overview on what local councils have been doing on their digital journey. Speakers from the City of Joondalup, City of Mandurah, City of South Perth and Town of Victoria Park shared their experience.

For the third module, Lateral Solutions were invited as speakers to provide knowledge about mobile apps and the cloud. Around 30 people from various councils attended. Our Managing Director Thushara and our digital evangelist Richard, elaborated on government policies and explained the three columns internet, open source and cloud which are the basis of apps being used more and more for citizen engagement. Our research identified the top eleven categories used by Australian local governments:

  1. Events
  2. Report Issues
  3. News
  4. Community Facilities
  5. Business & Community Directory
  6. Parking & Traffic Information
  7. Council Services
  8. Track Development Applications
  9. Special Offers
  10. Community Consultation
  11. Tourism

Richard demonstrated three mobile apps as examples of how other local governments have been using apps, covering various categories ranging from basic to complex applications:

• “Connect Unley” is a guide to Unley’s region (South Australia) including information about local businesses and initiatives, linked to a GPS based map

• “FixMyStreet” is an open-source basic app catering to report issues. It includes the camera function to send photos, for example of potholes, using GPS data for their location

• DigiMacq, developed for the Parramatta City Council (NSW), employs games visuals and audio on an interactive tour; it takes visitors on an adventure through the township 200 years ago, bringing heritage interpretation into the hands of a younger, tech-savvy demographic

Demonstrating interactivity on mobile devices, we used the web app “StrawPoll” during the session to let the audience decide on a choice of four further topics. “Productivity apps for staff” and “Cloud Computing Solutions” received the most votes.

Our digital marketing expert Kerstin demonstrated the productivity app CamCard, a mobile app which scans and processes business cards without having to type contact details; it can be exported to the phone’s address book, Gmail or to Exchange. From the card, you can directly call, mail, visit the website or request a LinkedIn connection. A search function not only finds the processed contact information, but also words in added notes.

Regarding Cloud Computing Solutions used in our business, Thushara mentioned the accounting software XeroOffice 365, which allows accessing Office from any device, and Replicon, a cloud based software for timesheets.

Thushara and Richard recommended to start with a small, but relevant app and to include app users early to get feedback so it can evolve to a useful application. Even the development stages can be published via Social Media while the community can be involved for crowdsourcing.

In the Q&A session, we answered questions and councils shared their experience with apps and the cloud.

The presentation slides can be accessed through this link: Digital Knowledge Series Module Three Slides

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Richard (left) and Thushara (right) from Lateral Solutions presenting at the Digital Knowledge Series Module Three about mobile apps and cloud for local governments

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