In many traditional ratepayer associations, connectivity is about having the monthly face to face committee meetings, recruiting new financial members and starting new branches. This brick and mortar model of connecting people still works, but with much laborious manual effort and dedication that mostly retirees can afford such time luxury.
Using existing Internet technologies, we are already connected to several ratepayer & resident advocacy groups across Australia (click here for details) and share much information and resources.
Connectivity doesn’t have to be constrained by laborious and time consuming effort. We are considering using collaborative technology to empower people to connect online, build virtual communities of advocacy, engage in interactive dialogs, supported by visual presentations and videos, as where and when they wish. Our members have the choice to connect online or face to face. They can associate with Ratepayers Australia as subscribers, casual or committed affiliates or as financial members.
Overseas councils are also taking this technology enabled approach in connecting with their constituents and other stakeholders in local government in service provisioning and reporting. UK councils are collaborating with their other government agencies to develop an agreed enterprise architecture framework, when supported by digital standards, would help them to effectively connect and interact with their constituents in service and information provisioning. However developing this connectivity is without challenges. Digitizing municipal connectivity will require a radical overhaul and redesign of its services, so that councils can do more with fewer funds available, and meet public needs more efficiently and effectively than now. Amit Tiwary (2017), an Australian enterprise architect, identified several prevailing digitization challenges in our local governments (see diagram overleaf). Hence, it is no surprising, digitization of Australian local governments is a far away achievement. However this down-side offers us plenty time to get ready and perhaps trial some of our own connectivity projects.