Marlborough to make resource consent process digital

Council chief information officer Stacey Young, pictured with Marlborough Mayor John Leggett, wants to completely ...

Council chief information officer Stacey Young, pictured with Marlborough Mayor John Leggett, wants to completely digitise the council's resource consents.

A $2 million scheme to overhaul Marlborough's resource consent system has been designed to help the council deal with the demands of the technological age.

The Marlborough District Council will be digitising its resource consent system in a bid to use resources more efficiently. 

Two years ago the council became the first council in New Zealand to digitise its property files. 

A council report said the council had to step up its game when it came to resource management as well, to meet the needs of the Government, and the public. 

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Staff were being put under increasing pressure and becoming stressed due to the expectation of customers that decision-making would be immediate. Making the recording process easier would free them up to do other things, the report said. 

The council had processed 38,000 resource consents since 1993, many of which required ongoing management.

"The council has limited resources available to deal with this level to complexity," it said. 

"Council's small size relative to some larger authorities allows it to be agile when developing and introducing new digital tools and processes." 

Water use, forestry, stream crossing, winery and marine farming records were among the first areas which would be digitised, in the 2018 financial year. 

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The project was being overseen by council regulatory manager Hans Versteegh​, and was being run by chief information officer Stacey Young. 

Young said a lot of the work around resource consents was already done on computer through PDF files, but this would allow people to input their details on completely digital forms which would go into an electronic database. 

The focus was on the customers who used the council's services, and on making things easier for them. 

Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said the system would be a "really big step forward" for the council, and would be a useful way of compiling information in years to come. 

"If it's captured digitally then I can link it through the property files, and have a lot more information that everyone can use."

In the past 10 years, the Ministry for the Environment had increased its requirement for information, and things such as the need for accurate information about water in Marlborough had become more pressing.

At a meeting earlier this month councillors decided $900,000 would be allocated to the council in the coming financial year for the project, $700,000 would be allocated the following year, and $360,000 would be allocated for the final stage of the project. 

Versteegh said the interactive council Cruise Guide to the Marlborough Sounds, which pulled together Marlborough Sounds resource consents and council information into a website and an app, demonstrated other information could be harnessed the same way. 

Eventually it would save the council both time and money, and would free staff up to work on the actual content of the resource consents themselves.

Versteegh believed Marlborough was still the first council in the country to be digitising its systems. 

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said he supported the initiative, and he was proud Marlborough was one of the leading councils in the country when it came to using new technology. 

 - The Marlborough Express


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