Tweed delivers mobile services

To meet the demands of tourists and locals Tweed Shire Council has created a portfolio of services that can be delivered and utilised via a mobile phone.
In the far north of the New South Wales coast, just shy of the Queensland border, lies Tweed Shire. 
Covering about a thousand square kilometres it's an area of outstanding natural beauty and an appealing sub-tropical climate.
Tourism and hospitality are two of the region's biggest employers and it has one of the fastest growing populations in NSW.
One effect of the region's constant stream of visitors and arrivals is information about local services and events.
Tourists want to know whether beaches are open and safe and new householders want information about development approvals, garbage collections and library hours.
To meet this need, over the past two years the local council has worked hard to create a portfolio of innovative electronic 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 geographic information system (GIS), 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.
Tweed Shire Council’s senior business systems administrator, Ainsley Pateman, Senior said the need for such services stems from the realisation that the community are 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,” he said.
“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.”
Having established this portfolio of e-services, the council also considered how it could bring mobility to some of its most frequently accessed information.
The development data was high on the list along with information typically sought by people on the move such as surf conditions, sports ground closures, and opening hours and contact details for council facilities.
“We wanted to make sure that we were evolving with the community and it's evident that smart phone technology is the way of the future,” Mr Pateman says. 
“People are becoming smart phone savvy and we saw an opportunity to engage in that process.  It's a matter of responding to the needs of the community.”
While researching solutions council came across Blink Mobile, an Australian company specialising in mobile technologies and with deep experience in local government environments. 
Mr Pateman said what impressed the council was its technology was quick to implement and it is available on all smart phone devices. 
Blink was engaged to develop and host blinkAnswers, a service offering web-based information about the council, displayed on smart phones and free to the community.
“Community reaction has been fantastic,” Mr Pateman said.
“We've only had positive feedback and we know the services are being heavily used,” he adds. 
“To maintain momentum the council is now investing in signs at sports fields and prominent community venues.”

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