Interview: The dream is to enable 100% of services online: Wanganui council

Jason Simons, IT executive and program management specialist, Wanganui District Council, spoke to Computerworld NZ on the council's work with relation to Smart 21 and its dreams of enabling 100% of council services online

Q: How has the roll out been in the last four years?

From Commvault we implemented backup straight away. We then implemented email compliance, so that was 100 per cent backup of all emails that were coming in and out of our systems.

We then implemented archiving. E-discovery was at the same time as backups. So those were the four things that we have done.

My desire is that in the next twelve months time we will have enough infrastructure at our DR site to stand up our entire environment.

Q: What are your planned IT investments in the next fiscal?

There will be our server refresh. This December is when we make those decisions, and it will be starting July to August. That will be the big one.

Part of that decision process will involve our disaster recovery site as well. So we are grandfathering our production systems into our disaster recovery environment. We can't afford two at the same time. So we will be grandfathering systems that were implemented in previous lives. It seems to work very well.

The disaster recovery site is in Palmerston North. Full mirroring happens in terms of Commvault solutions, so presently we have an environment in Wanganui. We have a Commvault media server there. We have the exact same thing replicated in Palmerston North.

We have a reduced server capacity in Palmerston North for central service. My desire is that in the next twelve months time we will have enough infrastructure at our DR site to stand up our entire environment.

At the moment we can only stand-up a limited environment. But Commvault is completely duplicated.

Q: How does your budget and planning cycles work?

Our budgets have been finalised for next fiscal.

Local governments have three cycles. One is a 10-year planning cycle and that gets refreshed every 3 years. Its currently called the long-term plan (LTP) and the next LTP cycle is coming up next year. And they literally have to plan out 10 years.

We currently also have a three year planning cycle and then we also have an annual planning cycle. So getting more granular in terms of the detail each time you come down.

One of the big things that the central government has focused on is, especially since some councils in NZ have failed, literally gone bankrupt, needing investigation. We had a presentation from Audit NZ and one thing they had identified when they go back in time, they can actually see the pattern happening when you look at multiple years.

When you look at the annual planning cycle everything looks good. When you look at the 10-year planning cycle, which is way out in the future, everything looks good. When you look through three and four years together, then you can start to see the patterns. And that is why there has been a change in direction from Audit NZ.

Q: Do you think you have reached your goal in terms of services that are offered to the public?

No. We have got a long way to go in terms of what we could do. It is very much about providing access to transactions in 2014. We do have a roadmap in terms of what we offer to the public and when we can afford to offer that to the public. Our next focus is transactional. So by next March-April, we will be able to offer access to financial transactions online.

Our ultimate desire is 100 per cent of services, consultation, voting on issues, voting on public interest issues, to be offered online. My personal desire is elections, the democratic process taking place online.

People had a very good experience with the census this year. A vast majority of people did that online, it is so easy, straightforward, people had a high confidence level about the security.

So by the time we come around to the next public body elections, which will be in another three years time, we will be in a very good position to actually offer that as a service that they can choose to vote online.

Wanganui has a huge turnout rate for local government elections, something like 68 per cent, which is phenomenal in the NZ environment. That could improve with the availability of services online.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags BYODdisaster recoverybackupCitrixcommvaultSimpanamobile managementICFwanganui district councilwanganuiSmart 21Jason Simons

More about Citrix Systems Asia PacificSmart

Show Comments