Browser-based GIS boosts Bayswater Council's efficiency

Perth's City of Bayswater has dramatically improved its local government services, thanks to an easy-to-use browser-based spatial viewer called CitySpatial.

The City of Bayswater, located north of Perth and with a population of roughly 56,000 inhabitants, has implemented a new spatial viewer called 'CitySpatial', delivering access to multiple corporate databases for all council staff via a browser-based Web interface.

Rod Woodford has managed Bayswater's Geographic Services department for over 10 years, and says that the new system offers combined access to the council's property, customer service, infrastructure assets, and approval systems into one interface, "enabling staff to provide a more seamless level of service".

Woodford says that Bayswater staff can now access and retrieve council documents and handle customer enquiries more efficiently than ever before, greatly reducing council input/output times.

"Land Certificate request forms have gone from 14 days to a one day turnaround."

Woodford explains that since 2001, Bayswater spatial operations have evolved considerably, but the expansion caused difficulties with data duplication issues arising from remote user access, deployment structures becoming over complex and time consuming, and internal design requests becoming hard to fulfill.

"A new approach was needed to resolve these emerging issues. The City needed a browser-based solution that could provide security, multiple database integration, design flexibility, remote access, scalability, and a centralized approach to spatial data management.

"The solution needed to ensure that it would help the council meet its corporate mission of providing a full range of local government services to the community to the highest standard, at the most economical cost achievable, and in the shortest time."

To resolve these problems the City implemented CitySpatial, a new spatial viewer built around ESRI Australia's locally developed GIS gateway, EView, which provides access to multiple council databases for all City of Bayswater staff via a Web interface.

"ESRI were here for 3 days to install the software and we were left to design the system to our requirements," he explains.

Woodford says that common CitySpatial functions, such as land/property ownership enquiries, aerial photography access, mapping services, mail merging, geometric calculations and spatial selections, can be utilised by all council departments with minimum training.

CitySpatial also has many department-specific functions particular to areas such as engineering, assets, environmental health, record management, recreation, security, rangers, parks and gardens, customer services, and town planning, which allow staff to query multiple databases and produce a wide variety of reports in seconds.

The system also allows for remote access to all internal staff, and boasts improved levels of security than the council's previous systems.

"[CitySpatial is] very flexible; all information is ported via Internet Explorer on a secure network," Woodford explains.

The publicly accessible elements of Bayswater's CitySpatial system, such as the Interactive Maps service, have been very popular amongst the town's population, with over 9,000 hits annually.

CitySpatial can be continually updated. The council plans to update the development applications, swimming pool licensing registers, footpath replacement registers, rating codes, record management, and health inspection facets of the system in the near future.

Francisco Urbina, business manager for ESRI Australia, says there is more and more of a trend to deliver spatial services online.

"Its been simmering away in the background, but now its really starting to come to the fore."

Urbina says ESRI has introduced similar user-specific spatial services for the South Australian Housing Trust, the NSW RTA, QLD Department of Natural Resources and Mines, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, as well as numerous other local city councils.

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