Datacom’s vision for smart communities

Datacom’s vision is to create new ways for local government to work and engage with their communities. It’s a vision to create a technology eco-system for smart communities, and it’s called Datascape.

A smart community implements technology that positively impacts the entire community. It works by melding information and communication technology with Internet of Things technology to better manage a community’s services and assets. It’s about promoting transparency, enabling collaborative governance and optimising council operations with a stronger, more engaged community.

With Datascape, Datacom takes councils on a journey to build something genuinely innovative from the ground up. It’s a collaborative process informed by the needs of councils and communities, but driven by Datacom’s ideas and technology expertise.

Parts of Datascape are already available to councils.

The innovative Antenno application with user notifications and Online Services, Content Manager, Community Bookings and Mobile Capture are already in use by council customers. The Customer Relationship Management component will be available by October 2018. Datacom expects the full Datascape product suite to be available in early 2019, and it will include Customer Relationship Management, Financials, Rating, Regulatory, Payroll, Facility Management, Online Services, Payment Gateways, Websites, Business Intelligence and the Antenno app.

The Datascape vision
Datascape is “born in the cloud”. Datacom is building it specifically for local government and it is entirely cloud-based. It provides a standardised offering that can be efficiently implemented, and then configuration can be tweaked for individual councils as needed. Standardised business processes mean council employees spend less time pushing paper and more time focusing on community and business optimisation.

The Datascape ecosystem is mobile friendly and has a highly responsive design. Instead of having to operate from a desk, a council worker can operate from anywhere, on a variety of devices using mobile data, or work offline when needed. Councils can use part or all of the Datascape system. It has thousands of APIs and complies with modern cloud-based integration standards, so integration with systems such as IOT solutions for traffic monitoring, air quality, or water quality is straight forward.

Leveraging other cloud services such as Flow, allows simple linking to social media, giving a single view of all interactions with the community. Datascape has the ability to integrate easily to other core local government solutions such as Document Management, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and Asset Maintenance Solutions. It is specifically designed to have very low bandwidth requirements making it suitable for areas with slower internet speeds.

What matters to communities?
Transparency and insights into council data are becoming ever more important for communities and their councils. Datascape will close the gap between information that councils hold and what information the community can see. For example, data used for LIMs (Land Information Memorandum) and held against regulatory functions like resources and building consents will be readily available online. Two-way digital conversations between councils and communities will also be provided through Datascape. If a council is upgrading a local park, it can notify relevant people in the local area via the Antenno app, go through an online feedback and consultation process, Datascape Datacom’s vision for smart communities set times for public hearing, and allow people to book online for a time to submit their views.

Antenno – digitally connecting communities
Datacom’s Antenno app, which is part of the Datascape vision, is a mobile app specifically designed to effectively inform and engage communities.

People in the community are sometimes swamped with information through social media, websites and electronic newsletters that may not be relevant to them. Councils have a need to seek new ways to reach and engage with communities, so Datacom created Antenno.

Launched in late 2016, Antenno helps councils and other organisations working in the public sector to inform and involve people in the community.

Antenno cuts through clutter for people trying to find council information by sending relevant notifications to people. Antenno helps people stay informed and get involved with things they care about, improving awareness and engagement. The app is available on both Apple and Android smartphones and is free to use.

Councils create alerts and notifications on a web portal, which are then allocated to a topic and map-defined to a zone of relevance. When posts are published, app users are notified if a place they care about falls within the post’s zone and the topic fits their preferences.

Antenno also provides councils with access to information, such as ‘post circulation’ reach, the level of engagement with posts, topic preference trends and other analytics.

Customer responses to Antenno
In New Zealand, South Waikato District Council, Marlborough District Council, and Ashburton District Council, and in Australia the Shire of Manjimup were looking for a communication tool that increased their reach in the community and improved community engagement. They have adopted Antenno, promoted the app to their communities and are seeing immediate results.

Councils using Antenno have noted increased customer satisfaction from people in the community who have installed the app and appreciate the notifications and alerts. Comments from South Waikato District Council residents have included, “Really awesome idea and love having instant notifications of what is going on around the area”, “A great service offered by the council”, “Love it. Have recommended to friends”.

South Waikato District Council found Antenno to be simple, easy to use at the back-end and  have noticed an increase in the type of alerts being posted.

“The Antenno portal is easy to use, quick, simple, logical, a pleasure. We can do five recycling posts in under six minutes.”

Kerry Fabrie, Communities Manager, South Waikato District Council

In addition, council employees at South Waikato District Council have already seen the value of Antenno over and above other social media platforms.

The future
Datacom’s vision for local government is about using technology to create smarter communities together. Datascape enables a truly smart community – a solution that works in, with and  for the community – and Datacom is committed to turning this vision into reality.