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Digital technology: Facing the digital future

Facing the digital future - Local Government Perspectives 2017

New cybersecurity protocols, increased use of open data, more community access to high-speed internet and higher accountability for records management are all on the cards for 2017.

Mike Manson, Chief Executive, ALGIM

The Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) has a vision to create a world class ICT sector in local government. ALGIM celebrates another exciting year as it briefly looks back at some of the achievements in 2016. The highlights include successfully completing six national conferences on the ICT themes of GIS, information management, IT infrastructure, web and digital, customer service and our annual ICT event that created much discussion.

A year in review

ALGIM brought to New Zealand Thomas Frey, the world’s number one futurist (as ranked by Google), where he addressed the ALGIM 2016 Annual Conference with his predictions around technology advancements in the coming years. This was the result of four years planning and a highlight for local government ICT.

In our efforts to further develop New Zealand’s global connections and place as a leader in ICT, ALGIM has this year entered a collaboration with Canadian and Australian (State of Victoria) local government. This collaboration has been working to build a shared database of all software running in local government across the three countries.

ALGIM has been running a system to do this for the past decade but when it came time to refresh the software this wider partnership became viable and we feel this has led to a much stronger outcome.

ALGIM was also recognised for its skills in both the information management area and ICT. ALGIM was appointed to the International Standards Committee ISO TC46, which is focused on records management.

It was also appointed to the AOG (All of Government) ICT procurement advisory group and continues to work with the Department of Internal Affairs on domain name moderation for local government (.govt.nz).

New opportunities

Looking forward, there is much change ahead for local authorities as new technology brings both challenges and opportunities.

ALGIM’s mission for 2017 is to raise our members’ knowledge and understanding of how they will be impacted by the digital revolution that is filtering across all industries, private and public alike.

ALGIM sees many opportunities for new work roles to be created as the rapid pace of change arrives. These jobs may not even exist today but will be needed tomorrow, and we want to assist councils during the inevitable transitions to come.

Our focus is around the change management that will be required to position organisations to best take advantage of efficiencies that can be gained from new technology, systems and processes.

In 2017 ALGIM will continue the development of our Linked Data Toolkit by working with both local and central government to deliver some groundbreaking capability in bringing together information from different systems, different councils or different sources into one user interface.

ALGIM will also continue its focus on thought leadership through whitepapers, magazines, newsletters and discussion forums. These ensure that the strategic and technical discussions that must occur in our sector, do occur, and will be reinforced by our events.

More open data

ALGIM supports the government’s move for more open data from the sector. This has the power to create new start-ups within communities that can, in turn, take advantage of more information being available.

Just over a year ago ALGIM brought to New Zealand Laura Manley, from the Centre for Open Government based in Washington DC, to raise awareness of the global scale of economic benefits of open data.

In the year ahead we will continue with the final updating of Infobase (the Local Government Software Register), will complete the last module of our recently-launched comprehensive Customer Service Toolkit and will further build and maintain our global relationships as we work with eight countries’ local authorities in the ICT arena.

High-speed internet access

ALGIM expects that the government will announce the outcome of the UFB2 fibre rollout in 2017. This will enhance the reach of high-speed internet access for a further five percent of New Zealanders and therefore extend access to 80 percent of households. This is critical infrastructure for all communities and will be vital in smart houses, smart towns and cities, and smart agriculture.

Cloud-based infrastructure will be high on the agenda for many local authorities and may include a move to Microsoft Office 365, as we are observing internationally an increase in councils across the USA making the switch. ALGIM has been using 365 for the past three years and today has no servers in-house, as all systems are cloud-based.

Cybersecurity: New protocols and best practice

The biggest threat for councils in the coming year is in the area of cybersecurity. ALGIM will be working on developing and offering protocols and best practice for minimising risks. We expect there will be a new emphasis on security policy frameworks coming out of central government.

ALGIM has also been heavily involved in promoting the new records management standard from the Department of Internal Affairs. This will require all councils to appoint a senior executive member as the person responsible for ensuring records are being managed appropriately within the organisation. This person will be accountable to the Chief Archivist, with initial visits and interviews occurring early in 2017.

With 11 councils and Audit New Zealand represented on the board of ALGIM we are poised to deliver new services to our members (100 percent of all local authorities) in the year ahead.

In summary, ALGIM is excited as it looks forward to a big year ahead in 2017 where it will provide guidance and direction to local government on digital technology, best practice and thought leadership.

This article was first published in Local Government Perspectives 2017.

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