Drivers for change

There are a number of drivers for change in our Digital Strategy:
  • Maximising service efficiency, civic insight and innovation

  • Residents as part of the network: crowd-sourcing and shared problem solving

  • From e-government to we-government and the economic future of Geelong

  • Start from our strengths

  • Geelong well placed – with the right strategy

  • A timely strategy

Maximising service efficiency, civic insight and innovation

The City of Greater Geelong will be a leader by adopting world’s best practice in developing new methods of communication. This will drive major efficiencies and cost savings to current communication and transaction methods.

We will also be making the most of new digital platforms and social media, trying to understand how to listen better to the community of Geelong and the best ways to harness the information people give us. The civic insight that will in the digital era become available to the Council – whether from its own operations or the information provided by its service users in the community, business and other partners – can, if properly managed, enable the Council to not simply improve its own performance but also that of the city itself.

Digital Geelong is about a different way of doing things – social media is one part of that but the underlying change to systems, working practices, understanding and culture is the key. We recognised early on in developing our digital strategy – and it’s what staff told us in our survey – that setting it within the transformation / culture change agenda of the Council was key to success.

Residents as part of the network: crowdsourcing and shared problem solving

But we must also recognise that the best organisations going forward into the digital era see their users/residents as an essential part of their network. This is a key bonus of digital. As commercial and public services move more and more online, so grows the capacity of those who are connected and skilled to engage with service providers and derive better outcomes. Better relationships between council and community can develop. Crowd-sourcing policy innovation, shared problem solving and more instant feedback loops with the public will improve the quality as well as the cost- effectiveness of services.

Digital platforms and social media – with their reach, accessibility, immediacy and ease with which content can be disseminated -allow far more people to contribute to solving a problem, which means potentially far greater efficiency and effectiveness overall. This amounts to a fundamental form of business process re-engineering in which citizens and clients take active parts. This also means the City of Greater Geelong can become ‘smarter’ and learn from customer feedback in a more systematic way, helping the council to deliver better and design services that are more relevant to the needs of our citizens.

This is thus not a marginal strategy for the Council but core to its objectives. Digital Geelong is positioned to support the Council’s strategic aims while putting the customer / citizen at the centre of the services we provide.

Recommendation 1: Treat staff (and the community) as part of a crowd sourced online problem solving network.

From e-government to we-government and the economic future of Geelong

It’s about public service efficiency and innovation, individual and community empowerment and democracy itself in an interactive era. We will use all opportunities provided by digital media and high speed broadband to increase the capacity of our citizens to communicate with us and with one another, to share key data, to open up access to both policy development and the political process and to work with us to deliver better services and outcomes. For Geelong, this is not just about e-government. It’s about ‘we-government’.

It’s also about the future of Geelong as a diverse and flourishing digital economy and the role the Council can play. We will support local businesses and our community to meet the challenges of, and exploit the opportunities of digital technologies and the digital economy in the broad sense defined by the Federal Government as being ‘the global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies, such as the internet, mobile and sensor networks’.

Just as a community where the great majority are digitally literate and included has the resilience and skills to face the future confidently, so too must our enterprises be similarly digitally enabled if we are to reinforce existing strengths, innovate in key sectors, attract new entrepreneurs and, together, take our city’s economy forward decisively.

Digital Geelong thus envisages the Council as a leader and advocate for change, an innovator and entrepreneur in digitising its own services and engagement with its community – and the democratic renewal which that can bring – a champion of digital inclusion, a robust and creative supporter of local business promoting the skills, knowledge and infrastructure required to exploit the digital economy, an effective creator of the partnerships needed to deliver Digital Geelong – and as a marketer of Geelong as a networked community and as ‘the competitive edge’ of Melbourne, ripe for new start-up initiatives and the relocation of talent.

Recommendation 2: The City will need to continually improve their understanding of the digital drivers in contemporary cities around the world and the role that they play in delivering Digital Geelong.

Start from our strengths

In making this journey to Digital Geelong we don’t start with a blank page. There is already momentum and we start with some great strengths, though we are not complacent about the need, urgently and decisively, to build on them. Our strengths are:

  • The City itself is undergoing renewed dynamism and is embracing social media channels to communicate out both to local constituents and the broader public on news and issues.

  • The economic development work of the Council has been recognised by the Victorian Parliament as leading edge in the state particularly in its commitment to partnering between the public and private sectors, to collaboration between councils, the state government and other parts of the public sector, and to embracing the regional economic dimension.

  • That collaboration has already helped secure important initiatives such as enhanced Wi-Fi capacity in a key location in Geelong city centre, with capacity for further expansion and a highly relevant G21 review of regional digital challenges and opportunities in partnership with ICT Geelong, itself evidence of the increasing local engagement of both the private and public sectors with the digital economy.

  • The installation of pit and pipe infrastructure at the Geelong Ring Road Employment Precinct and the expansion of the Central Geelong CCTV and fibre network

  • Further new impetus to local digital capacity and knowledge transfer will be provided by the new city library complex at the heart of Geelong.

  • Geelong is already a locus of significant digital innovation in the private sector with the region being home to the Australian headquarters of retailers Target Australia, Cotton On, RipCurl and Quiksilver they employ more than 300 people in some form of ICT capacity

  • The work being done on tele-health and the re-design of services to patients in the digital era by Barwon Health, a recognised leader in the adoption and implementation of electronic and digital platforms is of state and indeed national significance. Health is a strong sector in Geelong and one increasingly promoting the use of digital media and innovation.

  • There is a strong Medicare Local – playing an important role in creating a highly integrated local health system (important in collecting data across the health sector), and in increasing digital adoption across health providers.

  • There is also increasing research strength across Deakin University & CSIRO with health-based digital applications – resulting in multiple faculties and research centres locally with health digital/ health analytics expertise.

  • The presence of new and / or significant health stakeholders – this includes the headquarters of the TAC, DisabilityCare, National Disability Insurance Association (NDIA), Work Cover/Worksafe, GMHBA and the South- West Alliance for Rural Health (SWARH), and the future Epworth Hospital.

  • ICT Geelong’s focus on building capability in wearable sensor technologies is also a focal point for future R&D and commercialisation activities with health applications. And not just health as the establishment of the Australian Sports Technologies Network locally indicates.

Recommendation 3: Build on the local strengths in the digital economy by embracing current and previous initiatives and their relevance to achieving alignment with Digital Geelong.

Geelong well placed - with the right strategy

So, while some of the headlines for Geelong have been about challenges to its manufacturing economy, other key trends point to a future of expansion and innovation in key knowledge economy sectors – with government departments relocating to the area (TAC and WorkCover), a fast developing tertiary education presence (Deakin in particular) and some leading edge digital enterprises flourishing in the area – and to a highly positive scenario for population growth. With Melbourne itself set to be the biggest city in Australia over the next 25 years (according to the ABS), Geelong is clearly well placed to exploit that growth along with its own anticipated demographic uplift. To turn opportunity into delivery requires a strategy and a program of actions to develop Geelong’s digital assets as part of a broader growth and talent attraction initiative.

That strategy is Digital Geelong.

Recommendation 4: Embrace and implement Digital Geelong as a key part of an integrated growth and talent attraction strategy.

A timely strategy

The strategy is also timely. All local government areas across Australia are reviewing their resources and delivery approaches in order to ensure continued value for money and impact at a time when public budgets will be under pressure. Such a review of resources, organisational capacities, capabilities and structures and how we deliver our services, and seek to identify efficiencies from digital working, go hand in hand. There’s never been a better time for a Council – and its key partners -to be strategic about digitalisation. That is also the view taken by the staff surveyed for this research and as they are a key delivery tool for the strategy, this matters.

Next section: Our role in Digital Geelong

Page last updated: Tuesday, 20 August 2019