Greetings from the 4th Annual Web Content Management for Government in Canberra. After morning tea I am talking on Government services via the web in regional Australia. James Robertson is chairing and commented that the web content tools industry keeps growing but clients keep expecting to be able to use these tools for complex work flow (but can't).Jim Higgins, Chief Executive, New Zealand Local Government Online, talked about councils collaborating on common systems. This is a company owned by four local government organizations. He mentioned emergencies for floods and volcanic eruptions as a common problem for councils, but at a less extreme level, cooperation on local library catalogs. One example was the Taranaki Regional Xplorer,with local mapping data. The Taranaki Regional Council also has a useful emergency management site. This includes a section on Pandemic influenza.
The NZ Councils have the ReadyNet emergency management system to allow coordination between organizations and councils, including Tsunami warning.
Brendan Dalton, a/g Branch Manager, Information Management Branch, Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) talked about the FaCSIA Guides IIS Project. This is claimed to be Australia's largest web publishing project, with over 400,000 pages on Social Policy and Entitlements law. NetCat Biz company developed the SWIPE system to covert the content. However, I could find little about this on FaCSIA's own web site. But I did find an example: National Indigenous Housing Guide. This was very difficult to navigate, the content seems to be very fragmented and there appear to be major accessibility problems with the content.
Andrew Arch, Manager Online Accessibility Consulting, Vision Australia, talked on Accessible websites: designing and testing to benefit the whole community. He showed short videos of disabled people talking about trying to use web sites. One had a motor control problem (so could not use a mouse), the other was deaf.
Next I talked on Government services via the web in regional Australia.
Kerry Webb, Policy Officer, InTACT, ACT Government, Managing public sectors’ websites interface language and elements – do users and the public understand you? He pointed to the NT government as an example of a unified web design, even if a bit dull. He referred to the UK "Government on the Internet 2007" report and the "2007 Leadership in Customer Service: Delivering on the Promise". He pointed out that world "league tables" comparing government online may not be applicable, due to different government structures.
The UK has "DirectGov" to provide an integrated set of services. Kerry argues that this could cause problems as the agency with expertise will be remote from the web provider.