Online access to local government services is improving for Queenslanders as the state’s councils continue to embrace digital connectivity and service delivery on their pathway to digital maturity, a comprehensive new report has found.
The 2020 Digital Productivity Report, commissioned by the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), found about 95 per cent of Queensland councils now understood the digital challenge while 75 per cent have digital actions under way.
It comes as councils across the state use digital technology where possible to ensure normal council business continues and essential services are delivered amid the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
"The 2020 Digital Productivity Report confirmed the most common drivers for embracing digital connectivity included the ability to increase operational efficiency, provide better public access to council services and provide faster turn-around times in response to community requests for information or actions," LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said.
A survey of Queensland councils conducted as part of the report found most councils have made good progress towards a data driven environment with plans for technology investments in data governance, cloud technology, cyber security and real-time dashboard reporting under way.
The survey found 79 per cent planned to move more services online over the next two years, leading to a greater online presence and adding to the list of popular services communities can access from their homes and when mobile.
The most accessed online services include general enquiries as well as enquiries about jobs, cemeteries, restrictions and hazards, and rates management.
The top three services planned for online delivery in the next two years are service requests and enquiries, animal services and planning and rates management. They align with the current top three services accessed by customers.
The report also found there had been a surge in the use of social media in the last two years with 96 per cent stating their councils were engaging with the community most frequently via Facebook. The report also showed the top functions supported by social media use included community engagement, event promotion and crisis communications.
Despite increasing awareness of the productivity benefits that can be derived from the digital economy, the report also revealed remaining challenges including the extent of connectivity.
“Only 58 percent of councils reported their community having access to high quality internet in their local areas; up only three percent (from 55 percent) when surveyed in 2017,” the report found.
The report, the fourth in a series, tracks how councils are performing regarding the digital economy and analyses trends in the use of new and emerging technologies in local government.
While councils are eager to drive operational improvements by leveraging business insights gained through data analytics, the report warns that councils should move from passive data management to predictive data models.
When asked about the support their councils required for expansion of data analytics, uplifting data analytics tools (47%) and attracting skilled professionals (40%) were the top two areas cited.
"Insights from the 2020 Digital Productivity Survey will be used by the LGAQ to support councils in providing greater value to ratepayers through digital initiatives and provide innovative suggestions to digital vendors enabling them to deliver greater value to Queensland councils and communities," Mr Hallam said.
The report was developed in partnership with GWI and with assistance from the Telstra-Local Buy Industry Development Fund.