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The quality of information and services available on Gisborne District Council’s website has earned it 6th place out of 85 district and regional council websites in New Zealand. The Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) last week ranked all local authority websites in the country. ALGIM commissioned independent web experts to do a technical and content survey of all the websites.
Council online communications coordinator Karen Hadfield, says it was pleasing to see all the improvements that have been made to the website recognised. “Last year we ranked 30th. Since then we have had a complete redevelopment and added a lot of functionality. This has been achieved with no extra staffing and within already tight budgets. Four of the five websites ranked above us are from large metropolitan councils with much larger development budgets than ours.”
New services and features recently added include:
· environmental data - hourly updates of rainfall, river levels and wind speeds
· council and committee meeting agendas - includes all staff reports and appendices
· public notices - all council notices including tenders and notified resource consents
· business training calendar
· online submissions and request for service
· you can post comments on media releases and 'have your say' items
· a search of funding and trust providers
“In the next few months our cemetery records will include photos of headstones and inscriptions. And within the next year we are looking at including more online services such as rates, LIM applications, building consents, dog registrations etc,” Mrs Hadfield added.
Community planning and development manager Nedine Thatcher-Swann says Council's website is an important part of customer service delivery. "It is becoming a virtual customer service centre for our organisation and is increasingly the way people prefer to find out information or conduct business. Since the major revamp of the site last year, new visits have increased by 46%”
The technical and content survey of all local authority websites in the country provides Councils with feedback on the quality of their websites and ways in which they could improve them.
The following 5 major categories were assessed:
· Basic council features - ease of navigation, keyword search and overview of services
· Planning and general council information - Council meeting agendas and minutes, events calendar and council plans
· Information on job vacancies, liquor licensing, noise control, local libraries, building consents, rubbish and recycling collection, property rates and property maps
· Paying of rates online, posting consultation submissions, sending feedback and reporting problems and issues in a request for service system
· The speed of the response to a straightforward email enquiry sent to email@example.com