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Getting New Zealand local government towards a digital leader

Recap of the 35th ALGIM conference - a digital future for local government.

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The digital future of local government and open data were the focus of a major gathering last week of New Zealand council’s IT leaders - the 35th annual ALGIM conference.

New Zealand has enjoyed internet banking for almost 20 years, with ASB launching the country’s first service back in 1996. Over those two decades, councils have developed information websites, which have steadily got better with support from ALGIM’s annual rankings and assessments. Despite much progress, online services across the country are by comparison much more limited. Systems to provide rates payments, consent applications, or a fully citizen-centric dashboard still have a long way to catch up to online banking delivered by the private sector, or to reach where advanced countries are, such as digital leader Estonia. Conferences like ALGIM go a long way to help share information and inspiration that will see local government online change radically in New Zealand over the coming decade.

Haydn Read demonstrated compelling information and substantial vision on what’s possible when councils and central government (LINZ, Statistics, etc) meaningfully gather and share data in a standardised manner, giving rise to “linked data”, a recurring theme in the conference. You can watch an older video recording of a similar presentation by Haydn. His talk was well matched by Russell Douglas and Kaila Colbin, who touched on a large array of future local government issues, such as how autonomous vehicles will quickly redefine public transport, peak hour congestion, and remove the need for large-scale car parking in favour of passenger pick-up and drop-off points.

Technical talks also featured throughout the conference. John Houlker gave a technical account of internet bottlenecks and Tim Dacombe-Bird gave an impressive summary of how advanced and mature Amazon’s public cloud offering (AWS) had become.

A highlight of the conference was the awards night, which congratulated the nation’s individuals, teams, and suppliers who had best advanced technology in local government. The night was capped off by a talk from Jamie Fitzgerald, who had rowed across the Atlantic and trekked to the south pole unaided.

SilverStripe cares a lot about using technology to help government move forward. This is reflected in our software powering a large number of council websites including Christchurch to Greater Wellington, and our company providing the New Zealand Government Common Web Platform. We now have a lot of experience moving organisations solidly into the digital services space, developing online banking for Westpac bank and running Skinny mobile’s online customer facing portal. We are also about to launch a free, open source module that enables RealMe logins, which will make building out government services easier than ever.

SilverStripe won best exhibitor award for the DevOperation game, and congratulations to Kylee Mills for her record-beating 26 seconds. Marion Dowd of Western Bay of Plenty won SilverStripe’s spot prize - an awesome fitbit - all the better to stay in tip-top health condition and on top of any digital challenges.

We look forward to seeing you at an ALGIM in the future!

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About the author
Sigurd Magnusson

Sigurd is one of SilverStripe’s three co-founders and worked there for the company's first sixteen years. He continues to serve on the board of directors.

He's been living and breathing the internet since 1995 when the Wellington City Council provided the region's only internet service, then entirely text-based. The potential of the internet piqued his interest and he began learning computer programming.

Sigurd's strong technical ability and excellent people skills add valuable depth to SilverStripe. No longer involved with programming, his interest and experience with the technologies that form the internet make him extremely useful in identifying how technology can be used to push boundaries and solve human challenges.

Sigurd is an evangelist for the principles and technology of the web, and is an avid supporter of open source, open data, and the web as a modern software platform.

Off the web, he enjoys spending time with his family, mountain biking, camping, and experiencing foreign cultures, and now works in the clean energy and transport sector.

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