The latest ALGIM News and Updates

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  • 2 Apr 2020 12:02 PM | Anonymous

    Here’s some things to consider

    Thanks to the team at 8x8 for their help with putting together this article. 8x8 provide a range of remote working solutions for contact centres.

    Running a contact centre is an intense job at the best of times. Trying to get it up and running in the middle of a global pandemic is probably not how many of you imagined going live with remote contact centres.

    Still in times like these we work with what we’ve got, so we’ve compiled some considerations for setting up working from home.

    A good work environment

    In an ideal world you’d check out an employee’s work environment before starting the trial, but you can still try to have it meet the following requirements.

    • Is it a private space? If those taking the calls are in a shared environment, then privacy could become an issue. Try to keep the space away from anyone who shouldn’t be hearing confidential information.
    • What is their internet connection like? A patchy internet connection is going to cause significant problems with providing a good service to callers. Fibre is ideal, but other types like VDSL may be sufficient depending on the speeds provided.
    • Is it ergonomically suitable? There’s only so much you can do in a lockdown, but people sitting hunched over for eight hours a day, for at least four weeks is going to have the potential to cause ongoing health issues. The same goes for issues such as lighting, headsets, and keyboards.
    • Make sure all agents are taking breaks. Working from home it can be easy for a day to blur together. Taking the time to get up, step away from the desk and relax like you normally would on a lunch break is important.

    What equipment do they need, and who will provide it

    Back in 2018 we did a story with Auckland Council about their home agents – they had 75 at that time. Here’s what they told us about their equipment set up at the time.


    • Modern systems are able to quickly route calls anywhere with little fuss, but with all the call centre systems running through a VPN pipeline over the internet, a fast and stable connection is required. Those with fibre or VDSL were considered to be adequate, while the remainder were supplied with a 4G modem to connect through the cellular network.

      To keep it simple, every CSR, whether they were at home or in the contact centre, was switched to a laptop that can connect to a docking station, along with dual screens and a keyboard. This way everyone has more flexibility to move if needed. It also means that if a home agent wants to be in the contact centre for the day, they can just take their laptop, plug it into a docking station, and away they go. Also beneficial, if the laptop dies for some reason it can be couriered away and replaced very quickly.

      The entire set up is actually identical to that in the call centre, down to the type of chair provided. In fact, the whole thing has been bundled into a ‘call centre in a box’ that can be sent to a home agent and set up quickly.

      While most councils are obviously not prepared enough for this to the point that they can have a ‘call centre in a box’, there are several things to consider. 

      • A computer that can run the required software and connect to all the hardware such as headsets. Make sure that this is connected securely to the internet to avoid any cybersecurity issues – you can see more tips for at home cybersecurity here.
      • Internet as previously mentioned
      • Ergonomic equipment like screens, chairs, and keyboards
      • Any stationary or office supplies that may be required
      • A way to safely get hardware to people while the lockdown continues

      Maintain that communication

      Having workers at home can run the risk of being out of sight, out of mind, which means regular communication with staff working at home is crucial. This can be done in a variety of ways, but it’s likely that your council now has some form of remote video meeting software available.

      One such piece of software is 8x8's free video meetings platform which provides unlimited meetings, with no meeting time limits, free dial-in with toll-free numbers and much more. To get started visit www.8x8.com/vc.

      More info

      ALGIM has a couple of CX experts on staff. If you’d like advice on anything customer experience related, we’d be happy to help. Please email us on admin@algim.org.nz

  • 30 Mar 2020 10:28 AM | Anonymous

    This article was written prior to lockdown, but hopefully it still provides some helpful tips on how your council can work from home without a huge budget.

    Key lessons in ten seconds

    • You don’t need a huge budget to make it work – remote desktop does the job
    • Communicate early and comprehensively – have a go-to place for setup information
    • Your IT team’s time will mostly be spent in the configuration stage
    With the rate things are changing on a daily basis, it’s hard to say what will be happening when this article is published, however there’s a strong possibility that many councils will be working from home. It’s also likely that you won’t have a huge budget to make it happen.

    As the COVID-19 restrictions began to kick in, Horizons Regional Council carried out a remote work trial focused on essential functions, however designed to scale up to the majority of the organisation.

    As a regional council, Horizons  had some experience with providing workers with remote access, covering a vast landscape with workers operating from Eketahuna to Taumaranui. Having remote workers able to respond to an emergency event had also been a feature of existing Business Continuity Planning for some time, however was only for designated staff.

    For Horizons’ IT Manager William Gordon, and the rest of his team, this presented a challenge. Within four days they scaled up and successfully operated their trial for around 250 staff. He was kind enough to sit down with us and share what lessons they learnt in the process.

    Horizons currently provides most of their staff with thin clients, using remote desktop and Windows Server 2016, while DNS round-robining takes care of the load balancing. While William acknowledges there are more feature-rich and modern approaches available such as  virtual machines, this remains a reliable and cost-effective approach for a council with a smaller IT budget.

    Going live

    The first step in working from home was nothing technical, it was actually a comprehensive communication strategy to inform the staff on how to set up their devices to work from home. Regular messaging to staff along with a comprehensive page on the newly launched Sharepoint intranet were the key components for the awareness campaign.

    On the day of the test, the IT team had pulled in extra support to answer questions, however it turned out they had very few calls, with most of the questions being answered by the intranet page.

    The biggest time requirement was helping users configure their home PCs/remote desktop client software to use the new gateway system. In the end, they placed an already configured .RDP file on the intranet page to streamline configuration even further, and reduce friction for the user.

    As most users have a thin client at work, they used their own devices at home to access the remote desktop. Some even used iOS devices, although an issue with the connection broker prevented the official Microsoft Remote Desktop app from being used. This was solved by switching to the app Jump Desktop.

    As they’re on Office 365, Horizons were able to make use of Sharepoint Online, Teams, and other cloud-based services. Teams proved useful for communication, along with the more traditional email and good old-fashioned phone calls.

    Obviously, everyone’s experience will differ depending on what remote working infrastructure you have established. However, this is a good case study in how you can make it work for your staff on a relatively thin budget, and scale up quickly if needed.


  • 25 Mar 2020 1:47 PM | Anonymous


    Thanks to Tony Krzyzewski from SAM for Compliance (left) for his help putting this article together.

    With everyone beginning to work from home there’s always going to be difficulties in maintaining the same level of security. However, there are some basic cybersecurity tips we can follow to help keep our systems as secure as possible.

    Thanks to Tony K from SAM for Compliance for providing the resources we used to put this together. If you’re an IT manager looking to boost your council’s cybersecurity preparedness, you may want to check out the ALGIM Cybersecurity Programme, which is powered by SAM for Compliance.

    Only use trusted, secure wifi

    Using a password-secured wifi network that you trust is crucial. Public networks like libraries, cafes, and airports are open to attacks where others can intercept the data being sent to and from your device.

    Obviously in a level 4 lockdown most people you shouldn’t be in public areas. If you’re at home, ensure your wifi network is using a password to prevent unwanted people from joining. 

    Keep your devices up-to-date

    Updates sometimes bring exciting new features, but more often they’re just patching holes in your device’s operating system. At your organization, IT usually takes care of keeping your device updated, but if you’re using your own device at home, that may not be the case. Whether you’re using a Windows PC, an iPhone, Mac, or any other device, make sure it’s running the latest version of its operating system.

    You can see the instructions for several common devices below: 


    Watch for suspicious emails and links

    This applies at work and at home, but don’t click on any links you aren’t sure of. This is especially true for any links that then ask you to enter your password, credit card, or other sensitive information.

    If you have anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer, these will often detect these bogus links, but they aren’t 100% effective, so you need to be vigilant.

    Use what your IT department has provided

    Your IT department may have specific software they’d like you to use for accessing your organisation’s systems. Make sure to use these in the way that they advise.

    Use strong passwords

    This is advice for your everyday life, not just work, but it’s crucial. Easy passwords like 12345, or the name of your children can be easily discovered through guessing or scanning your social media pages.

    Also make sure your device is locked with a password or pin code. Working out of the office, your device is more likely to be stolen, so it’s important you have it locked down to prevent sensitive information being accessed.

    More resources


  • 19 Mar 2020 9:36 AM | Anonymous

    We have been keeping a close eye on the developing COVID-19/coronavirus situation, including recent developments around travel restrictions both for international travelers and council staff, and the need to prevent community transmission.

    As a result of these, and in the interest of the safety of our delegates and staff, the ALGIM Autumn Conference will no longer be going ahead on 11-12 May 2020.

    However, we know how few opportunities there are for GIS and Information and Records Management to meet and network in the local government sector, so the decision has been made to move the event until later in the year.

    We are currently working on holding it in October this year in Wellington. As you’ll be aware there are still a lot of unknowns with COVID-19 and how it will impact New Zealand over the coming months. With the current situation being very fluid, we will keep you updated regularly.

    What if you can’t make it?

    We know this change may not work for everyone, and how limited your training budgets are. If you have registered and would like a refund, please let us know and we will arrange this for you.

    Going forward

    ALGIM prides itself on holding an event focused just for local government GIS and Information/Records Management. We put a lot of work into it each year, and we are deeply disappointed to have to postpone it.

    There is the possibility that the programme may change slightly, as we check speakers’ availability for the new dates. We will keep the online programme updated so you always have the latest information.

    Early bird pricing and awards entries will remain open until closer to the time. If you’d still like to register for the conference in this financial year, please feel free to do so.

    Further enquiries

    If you have any other questions about this cancellation or our future plans, please don’t hesitate to contact us on admin@algim.org.nz or 06 351 6330


  • 9 Mar 2020 11:04 AM | Anonymous

    Artificial intelligence, IoT, and cloud computing. Those are the top three trends emerging from a global research project carried out in partnership with members of our international network LOLA across NZ, Australia, UK, Canada, and Europe.

    The survey canvassed the opinions of local government ICT professionals from six countries, and the full report is now available for our members to view here.

    Interestingly, the top trends for New Zealand and the United Kingdom matched up exactly, showing an alignment in thinking despite the distance separating our two countries.

    Knowing the trends can make a big difference in planning for the year ahead, which is why we were keen to work with our partners to provide this report to all our local government members.

  • 13 Feb 2020 10:21 AM | Anonymous


    ALGIM is proud to be sponsoring the Sustainable Cities and Communities event in Hamilton on 2 March.

    This will be a great event for smart cities leaders, councils, planners, and researchers from around the country to consider how we can leverage technology and data aligned with Sustainable Development Goals to design and build ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’.

    Find out more about it at https://www.techfest.nz/page/smart-cities/

  • 20 Dec 2019 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    Thank you for your support throughout 2019. Whether attending our events, using our products, inviting us into your council for advice and consultation, or just raising a query, we appreciate it. 

    2020 will begin a new decade, and for the year ahead here's a glimpse of a few upcoming events and products below. 

    We're closed from Friday 20 December until 6 January, and look forward to helping you in any way we can in the New Year.

    From everyone here at ALGIM HQ, meri kirihimete and we look forward to working with you in 2020.

    Conferences

    • Autumn Conference: GIS and Information Records Management
      11-12 May | Shed 6, Wellington
    • Spring Conference: Customer Experience and Web & Digital
      13-15 Sept | Conference Centre, Napier
    • Annual Conference: The future of tech in local government
      TBC Nov | Energy Events Centre, Rotorua

    Other exciting events and products

    • The Public Records Act has strict rules around how local government information should be managed. If you're new to local government or want a refresher, we'll be running a webinar early in the New Year.
    • Our new IT Satisfaction benchmark will kick off in 2020. If you haven't already signed up you can head to the web page and register your interest.  
    • Our droneSafe course is now CAA approved. If you're wanting training on that, let us know and we can arrange it to come to your council. Minimum numbers apply.
    • New IM training is now available. Our first two are an introductory level course to IM and Record Keeping, and an Executive Sponsor training.

    Any other questions, please contact us on admin@algim.org.nz


  • 1 Jul 2019 10:50 AM | Anonymous


    ALGIM and Information Leadership team pictured above. ALGIM welcomes Information Leadership as Elite Partners and ‘New Old Friends’ with their support to ALGIM and local government stretching back over a decade. (L-R Simone Pearson (Information Leadership) Tia Owen(ALGIM), Jordan Dempster (ALGIM), Lesley Officer (ALGIM), Paddy Plunket (Information Leadership), Mike Wanden (ALGIM Board Member), Laura Simpson (ALGIM).

    Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) is pleased to welcome Information Leadership as Elite Partners.

    ALGIM Chief Executive, Mike Manson says, “Information Leadership have been supporting ALGIM and the local government sector for over a decade. We are excited to welcome them on board as Elite Partners”.

    Information Leadership deliver modern digital workplaces for government and commercial customers on the Microsoft platform. Their speciality is Office 365 and enterprise grade designs that balance: being easy and flexible to use; while providing confidence and control that information is secure, complete and findable.

    Sarah Heal, Information Leadership Co-founder and Director, says “we have had a long and enjoyable business relationship with ALGIM and many Councils across New Zealand.  We’re delighted to form a partnership and continue to support ALGIM’S initiatives within the local government sector”.

    Since 2004, Information Leadership have been working with a growing number of New Zealand local government customers. In 2017, they were awarded Microsoft Government Partner of the Year. In 2018, their success was further recognised when they were selected as the first Kiwi company, and one of just 24 companies world-wide, to join the Microsoft Content Services Partner programme.

    Ms Heal says, “joining ALGIM in 2019 as Elite Partners will help us bring our expertise to the sector. We’re looking forward to working together to deliver workshops and sharing the lessons we’ve learnt from the front line of digital transformation. There is a huge level of interest in Office 365 and opportunities to replace standalone intranets, extranets and EDRMS.”

    ALGIM’s vision is for a digitally transformed local government sector, Mike Manson says “Information Leadership share this goal, and we look forward to their support in driving digital transformation throughout New Zealand. By partnering with ALGIM, Information Leadership are demonstrating their commitment to this sector”.


  • 12 Apr 2019 4:04 PM | Anonymous

    Register for the ALGIM Autumn Conference

    One of the most exciting parts in the lead up to an ALGIM Conference is finding out the finalists for our awards.

    We’re pleased to announce the following finalists for our GIS and IRM Project of the Year Awards.

    GIS Project of the Year

    Auckland PathsAuckland Council

    The Auckland Paths tool has been designed to give residents easy to access information on the wide range of paths around the city. Using the tool users can filter by a variety of categories, including whether they’re walking or cycling, what area of Auckland they’re in, and what type of path they’re after eg beach, bush, historic, flat. Working in partnership with AT and private sector partners, and utilising in-house resources, the project has provided a cost effective, popular tool for Aucklanders.

    Breach of Bylaw Mobile Application - Bay of Plenty Regional Council

    When the BOPRC GIS team partnered with the Maritime team, they delivered a solution that saved huge amounts of time, and let the Maritime team focus on ensuring public safety. They developed a mobile application that interfaces with ArcGIS Online and Accela to allow bylaw breaches to be entered into the council systems while still out on the water. The process now takes less time, less workload, and has fewer errors.

    Northland Civil Defence Operational OverviewNorthland Regional Council

    Giving Civil Defence the most information possible during an emergency is crucial. To assist with this, NRC have created a system which combines several pieces of software including ArcGIS, Survey123, and Story Maps, to gather real time information for situation reports and action planning. This quickly delivers vast quantities of data to the Emergency Operations Centre, giving Civil Defence staff and volunteers the information they need to respond to disasters.

    Pre-1930 Character Area ReviewWellington City Council

    Character assessments and similar stock-taking reports have typically been time-intensive and expensive undertakings for councils. Using off-the-shelf software, WCC was able to capture much of the data from the desktop, meaning that field inspections were only required as verification, rather than initial collection. This was all compiled into an easy-to-use engagement tool for community engagement.

    IRM Project of the Year

    00z: Licence to DestroyAshburton District Council

    Retention and Disposal is something that is crucial to get right. After last year’s winning project, migrating from their old network drive to an EDRMS, Ashburton required a robust retention and disposal system. Breaking away from the traditional, physical R&D thinking, they have come up with a successful approach that has engaged the whole business.

    Project Upgrade: A digitization and change management journeyBay of Plenty Regional Council

    With office renovations underway, and a shift to open plan, the physical file storage rooms at BOPRC were going away. This posed a problem for the council’s records storage. Instead of seeking new physical spaces, the decision was made to go digital. Done using in-house expertise at a fraction of the cost the project saved the council money, freed up hundreds of square metres of space, and ensured the documents were safely preserved for years to come.

    EDRMS on a ShoestringMackenzie/Hurunui District Councils

    The existing EDRMS was not well utilised within council and had a stigma attached. With a total budget of $50k, a new solution was selected and successfully implemented. This was achieved on time and on budget by the shared service IT provided. The solution is not just EDRMS but a digital platform to transform the organisation from paper processes into a digital workplace

    EDRMS Reconfiguration: Making it easy to create, manage, and find council informationNelson City Council

    While changes to the EDRMS were at the core of this project, the real benefits lay in the change management, and increasing the records maturity of the council. Staff throughout the council are now much more familiar and confident with the process of information/records management, and are keen to engage with the records team. The project has brought efficiency gains and cost savings throughout the organisation.


  • 1 Mar 2019 4:11 PM | Anonymous

    If you're stuck for ideas on what to nominate for our awards - here are the winners and runners up from last year's awards.

     Already have a nomination idea - enter it here.

    The mother of all migrations

     

    Given an overloaded shared drive, a small IM team, and a big task, Ashburton District Council managed to pull off an impressive feat – migrating to an EDRMS without a hitch.

    The amount of clever and careful planning, and smooth execution of the migration impressed the judges at our Autumn Conference, and they awarded Ashburton the IRM Project of the Year Award.

    So how did they pull it off? The first step, according to Ashburton DC’s Leonie Robinson, was to visualize the problem so management could see the scale of the task that lay ahead. With over 800,000 documents, 56,000 folders, and some folder structures up to 18 deep, it was definitely a challenge.

    The project was planned out in four steps. First, they ran a crawler, scrape tool, and an Optical Character Recognition tool. These ran across the network drive overnight, extracting data to a SQL database, searching contents of documents for TechnologyOne IDs or ADC’s Classification codes, and discovering PDFs that weren’t OCR’d, respectively.

    With all the documents listed in the database, they were able to strip out documents that did not have an extensions that related to council records eg software. Then they refined it down to those documents in the target timeframe for the first migration, and worked through duplicates.

    This database then fed through to a staging area on Sharepoint, where staff could go through and examine their documents to ensure they were correctly tagged. With this step complete, they moved to the migration.

    The migration went smoothly thanks to all the preparation behind the scenes. A copy of each document is migrated across, up until the morning of the roll out. Then, a script runs through and checks any documents that have been updated – migrating across the latest version, and hiding the original files on the network drive. Scripts also recognize the names of the IM team, and reset the modified by and modified date metadata, to remove the work that the IM team have done in moving the documents.

    All that’s left is to push the network metadata into the EDRMS’ system fields, fix poor metadata, and delete old, duplicated, or marked documents. This process went so smoothly that the project often found itself running two to three days ahead of schedule.

    Crucial to the success of the project was the communication with staff, and ensuring everyone was on board, and well informed.

    Preserving photographic history in Pahiatua

    From a large scale, council-spanning project to a more niche, but equally important project in the southern Tararua town of Pahiatua.

    Like much of rural New Zealand, it has a rich history that was swept up in the local government reforms of the late 1980s. Pahiatua Borough and County Councils no longer existed, but their photographic history did, and it meant a lot to the local community.

    The original task was to take down photos and give them a clean. The team thought, well if we’re doing that, why not digitize them as well? Then they found some of the photos deteriorating, so why not shift them into storage and display reproductions? Actually, not all the people in the photos are identified. Why not create a reference of all the names and faces?

    It was in that way that a project was born. The call was put out to the community for help in filling in gaps that existed in the photographic record. They rallied to the cause, and the council eventually ended up with an almost complete record of the Borough Council from its inception through to its amalgamation in 1989.

    One particularly notable exception was the Borough Council mayor from 1902 to 1904. After his 1912 conviction for a crime relating to the trust funds of his clients, it seems the council of the time took it upon themselves to expunge him from the historical record.

    The end result of this was a project that showed you don’t need a massive scope or budget to achieve something meaningful. The records management team completed this on the smell of an oily rag, but were successful because they worked closely with the community for a result that will have a long lasting impact for the people of Pahiatua.

    Water, water everywhere, but how much is there actually? 

    Having a clear picture of water allocation is crucial for regional councils, and Northland came up with a way to view where their water is being used, right down to the river reach level.

    Their enhanced Water Allocation Tool (WAT), pulls data from a variety of systems, to form a complex GIS based model. It incorporates consent data, rainfall data, stock numbers, minimum flow levels, and more to provide a real-time snapshot of water in the region.

    This is then made available internally and externally using ESRI technologies that are already being used within NRC.

    This has provided huge benefits across the council. Planners can use figures from the tool to better plan policy, and illustrate why regulatory restrictions are required. The consent team can quickly see where water is over-allocated, and issue consents in a much quicker manner. Plus, Environment teams and hydrologists can easily find areas of pressure, and prioritise their resources accordingly. They say bad data in means bad data out. Improving the data available to the council has also greatly improved processes to create better, more meaningful data.

    The WAT has also made it possible to give the community more control and engagement with the water allocation process. Being able to view the maps allows a self-serve aspect to the process, meaning that a customer can check out an area, and see if they’re likely to be granted a water take. Prior to this tool being in place, they had to ring a staff member and wait while they did manual calculations.

    The tool, with its clear and obvious benefits for council and community was announced the winner of our GIS Project of the Year Award.

     

    The district plan goes digital 

    The first New Zealand council to create a district plan drafted directly into a property-based e-plan, New Plymouth’s approach to e-planning was an impressive one.

    With the information displayed in a digital, interactive form, the map-centric design uses spatial data as a portal into the plan itself. Using an interface not dissimilar to that of Google Maps, users can enter specific addresses, or navigate around the map.

    Once they select a property, users can view a whole range of details, including zoning, what parts of the district plan apply to that property, special features such as notable trees, and more.

    They can then click through to these areas to see more information on that topic, and the relevant areas of the district plan. The overall impact has been a district plan that is much more engaging and accessible for the public. 

    This didn’t happen overnight though. It took a great deal of collaboration between the GIS and planning teams. They built up a GIS planning schema to provide a framework for the GIS layers to integrate with rules. A graphic designer was added dinto the team to create a cohesive and attractive design, which took a complex subject and made it accessible in a form that many customers are used to from the big tech companies.

    There have been a range of benefits for the council too, with teams more engaged in planning, and able to find information quicker to answer customer queries. The planners also have more knowledge on GIS, meaning increased spatial awareness when drafting new rules.

    This is a cutting-edge tool that other councils can use as a blueprint to create their own digital plans as the regulatory environment shifts toward e-plans as the preferred format.

    Become an ALGIM award winner - nominate now

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