Small Council takes out big innovation award

Alpine Shire, a small council in regional Victoria, has jointly taken out a national award recognising innovation and collaboration in local government.

Charlie Bird

The council, which has a population of under 13,000, tied with it’s larger Queensland counterpart Sunshine Coast to take out the Australian Achievement of the Year Award at the MAV Technology Awards for Excellence.

Alpine led a collaborative project with Indigo and Towong Shire to build a cloud-based enterprise solution across the three neighbouring councils.

Project Pinnacle also won Victorian Achievement of the Year and Strategy and Planning Achievement of Year. It was highly commended in Partnership of the Year.

Sunshine Coast Council tied with Alpine Shire for the top gong for its International Broadband project, involving the landing of a new international submarine cable to Maroochydore.

The project will provide Queensland’s first direct international data and telecommunications connection to global markets.

Praise from judges

Judge Colin Fairweather said both projects punched above their respective weights.

“Alpine, Indigo and Towong did something that many regional councils aspire to, and that’s working together to bring efficiencies of scale and modern technologies to their region,” Mr Fairweather said during an online awards ceremony on Monday.

Sunshine Council set out to drive economic benefits to the community through the submarine cable as well as providing a modern technology infrastructure, he said.

“It’s an amazing project and we look forward to seeing how that develops over the years,” he said.

Going further together

Charlie Bird Alpine CEO said Project Pinnacle is the story of three small rural councils with common problems who decided to go it alone when they failed to win rural councils transformation funding last year.

Faced with ageing legacy systems and increasing community expectations, they engaged IT service provider Datacom to provide a cloud based solution that would provide a seamless digital front desk for customers and a frictionless experience for staff across the three councils.

“We can work on customer service culture as much as we like however we need to give our people the tools, the systems the processes to be able to deliver that customer service,” Mr Bird said.

He said by joining forces and working together the councils saved money and improved customer service across the board.

But it was also a triumph of trust and co-operation that would pay dividencs in the future.

“What’s really important is we’re now set up with a common system and we’ll have common processes in place to help each other out in times of need,” Mr Bird said.

The project, which cost a combined $10,000, is set to go live next July.

“If you want to go fast you go alone, if you want to go far you go together,” Mr Bird said.

The two councils will become the Australian entries in the LOLA International awards for Excellence in Municipal IT awards.

Other winners:

  • Smart City Achievement of the year: City of Whittlesea, Moreland City Council, Banyule City Council, Mitchell Shire Council and Nillumbik Shire Council – Northern Melbourne Smart Cities Network
  • Collaboration or Partnership of the Year: City of Greater Geelong – Geelong Data Exchange
  • Customer Experience Achievement of the Year: City of Frankstown – Digital Ways of Working

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