In the far north of the New South Wales coast, just shy of the Queensland border, lies Tweed Shire. Covering more than one thousand square kilometres it's an area of outstanding natural beauty and an appealing sub-tropical climate. It's little wonder that the outdoor life holds sway, that tourism and hospitality are two of the region's biggest employers, or that it has one of the fastest growing populations in New South Wales.
One effect of the region's constant stream of visitors and new arrivals is that information about local services and events is in high demand. Tourists want to know whether beaches are open and safe. New householders want information about development approvals, garbage collections and library hours.
Taking information online
To meet this need, over the past two years the local council has worked hard to create a portfolio of innovative e-services. Among the first areas it addressed were the Council's property information and planning, development and building processes.
In one project a tracking service was added to the Council website enabling applicants to monitor development approval progress online. In another, the Council integrated its external GIS [geographic information system], document management and planning systems so that land owners can view online all documentation related to their applications or to search for information such as land codes that may affect their property.
Ainsley Pateman, Senior Business Systems Administrator for Tweed Shire Council explains, "It stems from the realisation that there's a need for the community to be able to obtain services without having to come through the door of the council. People want to get the information they need quickly and with minimal effort. There's also a benefit for Council in this. If we can minimise the number of people coming through the door we have more time to spend solving queries and addressing business needs."