Broken Hill City Council

Current State and Future Vision

In developing this strategy, discussions took place between RDA Far West NSW and the senior management team at the City of Broken Hill as well as the Mayor and some city councillors to identify critical elements of their vision for the digital economy in Broken Hill.

The announcement of Broken Hill as an early release site is critical to future endeavours of the council – it recently launched its new brand. This brand will be heavily promoted via the internet and as such the online branding initiatives can act as a flagship online project for the council. With a successful “relaunch” of the brand in a high speed, reliable online environment, the community will be more aware of the council’s website and online services. This will assist with getting the community to engage with the council.

At present, the council does very little with regard to e-Government owing to a lack of sufficient knowledge amongst its employees, few appropriate technology-proficient staff and lack of sufficient financial resources to acquire some of the essential tools – many of which may have previously been beyond the reach of a smaller, inland city. However, given considerable new developments and increased availability of more affordable technologies, many initiatives can now be vigorously pursued and implemented at relatively low cost. Examples of government using the internet effectively include:

  • Providing online forms to streamline processing of applications
  • Managing service requests online using web and mobile applications – such as Ushahidi, Snap Send Solve, Neatstreets, Picture Adelaide
  • Consulting with the community online – the council has tried a solution called Bang the Table(see more about it please go to http://corporate.bangthetable.com/) which has been successful. Other more affordable online solutions are also available for smaller consultations
  • Managing emergencies online using mediums such as Facebook and Twitter. Brisbane City Council used these tools effectively during the 2011 flood and cyclone emergencies;
  • Collaborating internally using tools such as Yammer(https://www.yammer.com/ )
  • Engaging the community using blogs and video
  • Sourcing ideas from the community via crowdsourcing – asking the community to submit and vote on ideas for improving their environment – see a recent example of this in New York City(http://nyc.changeby.us/#start)
  • Connecting online and offline services using QR codes
  • Engaging with residents via online library tools, for example www.mosmanreaders.net, http://www.kingstonlibraries.net
  • Promotion of council events using social media, which Broken Hill City Council already uses for certain major events, for example Facebook is already used for the annual Civic Ball

The Broken Hill City Council is eager to promote the roll out of the NBN, e-Government and the digital economy in the city as indicated by our interviews with both the councillors and the council management below. Most importantly, the council is providing strong leadership to the community through its promotion of initiatives such as the film studio and its rebranding of Broken Hill as well as its general support for the broader development of the region.

Senior Management Discussion

Councillor Discussion

Broken Hill City Council has also commenced using tools such as Facebook and Bang the Table to engage more effectively with the community with regard to its own services. This leadership will encourage other major stakeholders across the community to embrace the digital economy. By 2020, the BHCC aspires to be recognised as a leading regional council in the delivery of government services via the internet. Key success factors:

  • Higher engagement with the community through online consultation, and the facilitation of feedback through social media and crowdsourcing applications;
  • Better and quicker communication with the community;
  • Faster delivery of services to the community;
  • Improved customer value for all stakeholders;
  • Lower internal transaction costs drive efficiencies.

Actions (To prepare for the NBN rollout)

The council has a commitment to carry out the following actions in the short term:

What do we want to do Why Who will do it When Resources
Appoint a project officer to lead an NBN rollout working group for BHCC operations. Accelerate engagement with NBN Co and prepare Broken Hill for high speed broadband. By 2020, it is predicted that 4 in every 5 Australians will choose to engage with government through the internet or other type of online service(http://www.nbn.gov.au/the-vision/digitaleconomystrategy/ ). BHCC ongoing BHCC, other external support as identified
Develop the BHCC NBN project working group. BHCC ongoing BHCC
Speak with project managers at first release sites and get advice on how best to assist the NBN. BHCC ongoing BHCC
Prepare a strategy for NBN funded education for broader community http://www.dbcde.gov.au/funding_and_programs . BHCC ongoing BHCC, seek training funds

Actions (To develop e-services for customers, enhance online presence)

What do we want to do Why Who will do it When Resources
Receive commitment from BHCC to prioritise e-Government initiatives. Community benefits. National Digital Economy Strategy goals upheld. BHCC ongoing BHCC
Appoint an NBN project working group. BHCC ongoing BHCC
Research what other leading councils are doing. BHCC ongoing BHCC
Pursue cost efficient video conferencing capabilities to liaise with key State and Commonwealth Government funders and agencies. Develop an emergency management centre – install video conferencing capacity within BHCC premises. Provide for critical communications and crisis management centre. Existing local facilities at TAFE, Essential Energy or the Department of Health are accessed but this is unacceptable in the longer term. BHCC cooperate with existing facilities ongoing BHCC, subject to funding availability
Launch new Broken Hill brand including new website. There is an identified need for single entry portal for Broken Hill. BHCC ongoing BHCC and external funds
Promote efficient methods for collaboration amongst clusters of councils in the region, e.g. sharing of knowledge, plant, equipment, labour, facilities – to help stimulate the region as a place to live and invest, help population regenerate. Financially, councils in our region struggle to meet all costs. Improved collaboration enhances efficient outcomes. This meets goals in the NSW 2021 plan and RDA Far West NSW Regional Plan. Future regional organisation of councils. ongoing Local councils, Division of Local Government.
Develop e-Government initiatives to improve engagement with the community. Initiatives to include:

  • Online payments (rates, development applications, other fees and charges)
  • Online consultations (e.g. bang the table, others)
  • Reports from the general public on roads, parks, footpaths, other facilities
  • Promotion, information about major regional events like St Pats Races (e.g. Twitter, Facebook)
  • Receipt of compliments and complaints online
Current internet speeds in BH highlight the current poor customer access experiences prevalent in the region. Benefits will not be realised until high speed broadband is available. BHCC ongoing BHCC staff, NBN local government grant – still trying to understand if BHCC may be amongst top 40 sites.

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