Much of our thoughts recently have been around the public sector strikes and political jockeying at a national level. We now need to turn some of our attention to the local elections which will be held next year.

Over 10 000 council seats which includes 4277 wards will be contested in eight metropolitan councils, 45 districts and 231 local municipalities.

The importance of local elections is often overlooked by the average voter, and this apathy is reflected by industry. We spend much of our time criticizing national government for non-delivery, when we should be holding our local government accountable too. We need to raise issues of e-government and service delivery at a local level if we want to see meaningful change.

The recent Australian elections have given us pause for thought. One of the most hotly debated issues was the National Broadband Strategy, which aims to deliver 100Mps broadband to all towns with a population of 1000 or more.

This sort of connectivity will not just be useful for schools and universities, but provide people from lower socio-economic levels, or from the unemployed, elderly and people with disabilities, everyday living skills such as e-banking and e-mail.

As individuals and as industry, we need to ask our local leaders how they intend to ensure their communities are catered for. What policies do they have in place to connect our libraries, our community centres, our municipal offices? Have they done proper assessments on how technology can help deliver better efficiencies?

We should also be asking for practical tactics on how they intend to roll out services. Have they secured the right partners for delivery, are their own systems up to the task, and are our municipalities making use of technology that can drive efficiencies and therefore deliver results?

Local governments will be facing financial challenges, and many of these can be addressed through technology. Radical ideas for cost reduction are possible in several areas: sourcing and procurement, e-government and government integration, and workforce management.

Making use of public cloud services and consumer technology, adopting crowdsourcing and community sourcing for application development, and challenging existing shared-service agreements with cloud-based options are all possible solutions for better and affordable delivery.

There is no doubt that there is much work needed at a national level, but local government is where the grassroots delivery will happen. As good e-citizens we should be asking our future leaders for solid evidence that they have given the necessary thought to running wards and municipalities which are equipped to deliver services. If we don’t ask the right questions now, we risk another five years of non-delivery.

PUBLICATION:  ITWEB BIZ E-NEWS BEAT
DATE:  17 SEPTEMBER 2010