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Residents in Wiltshire and Swindon can access a new range of local government services and data on the internet, th...
Residents in Wiltshire and Swindon can access a new range of local government services and data on the internet, thanks to a new component of the Wiltshire and Swindon Pathfinder website. The initiative embraces modern internet mapping technology with land and property information as a gateway to council services and information. The mapping application has been jointly developed by Wiltshire CC in partnership with Swindon BC, the four district councils, local police, fire and health services in the region. The MapsDirect hosted internet mapping solutions from geographic information systems (GIS) specialist ESRI (UK) is used as the basis for the development of the site. It can be viewed here.

The system is the result of investing a portion of the£1.2m of funding recently secured by the Wiltshire and Swindon Partnership under the government's Pathfinder programme. This scheme is supporting projects that enable greater access to information and services by local communities by harnessing the benefits of new technology. A key component for this initiative is GIS, a key technology for enabling e-service delivery. It enables local authority service information, much of which is land and property based, to be collected once, shared and used many times by citizens and local service providers.

Key applications within the site use the power of maps and geography to enable citizens to directly get answers to frequently asked questions or initiate service requests. Applications include finding a local councillor, reporting a problem requiring council attention such as a street light failure, finding the nearest location where a particular service is available or getting information on any local service. These facilities will be added to over time as more datasets are made available by the partner organisations. These transactions feature high on the list of key performance indicator measures determined by the Local Authority Society of IT Managers (SOCITM) which are designed to help local authorities improve interaction with the public through e-government.

'The principal aim of this site is to enable local people to access useful local information when and where they want' says John Geary, management consultant at Wiltshire CC. 'In the longer term, as more local people gain access to the internet, we expect it to become an increasingly used alternative to other forms of communication, in particular telephone enquires'. Peter Beaumont of ESRI (UK)'s MapsDirect group is actively supporting local authorities who recognise the importance of location in customer contact business processes. 'The Wiltshire & Swindon Partnership project has enthusiastically embraced the use of geographic information as an enabler to electronic service delivery, in this case as a cost effective fully managed solution'.

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