Inverell Shire Council is aware of the potential economic and social benefits to rural communities that the Internet offers, its ability to bring the world to Inverell’s doorstep and likewise take Inverell, its products and services, to the world.
Inverell, in the Northern Tablelands of NSW, and with a population of 16,000, is reaping the benefits of Council’s Internet foresight.
In the 1999/2000 financial year, Council committed funds to develop a strategic framework to enable the Shire as a whole to take advantage of the Internet and related technologies.
Inverell Shire Council’s Manager of Information Services, Lance Oswald, said that Council assisted the community to become Internet aware and exploit the economic and social benefits.
“We aimed to evolve the role of Local Government in information technology as well as maintaining and enhancing local economic capacity and prosperity,” he said. “Council also aimed to assist the local community to take advantage of the Internet in a community directed manner.”
To be successful, it was first necessary to develop an increased awareness of the Internet in the local community and provide a means of allowing the community a presence on the Internet. Second, it was necessary to encourage the take up of e-commerce.
The outcome was the development of the Inverell Online Project, which was launched in July 2000. The project involved the development and management of the core Inverell Online web site, which was to have a single point of entry, comprehensive details and a consistent look and feel.
To promote Inverell Online, Council believed it was essential to win a national award for the project.
“To aim for a national award was seen by some to be virtually unattainable,” Lance Oswald said. “However, the project exceeded everyone’s expectations, with Inverell Online winning the Prime Ministers Award for Local Government and a National Innovation Award. Council is extremely proud of the project and its success.”
Being a small town, Inverell found it difficult to attract IT companies to the area, so decided to do it their way, for the benefit of the community.
“Council, being the one entity that has the whole community’s interests at heart, was delighted to be involved in the project, but has ensured that it remained the community’s site, not Council’s,” he said.
The project, being part of a larger strategic framework, also focused heavily on the development of awareness in the community of the benefits of the Internet and how it can be applied to local business. Business and community response to the project was exceptional, with over 180 local business, and 300 tourist facilities and community groups, registering. Local business is reaping the benefits of selling products and services as a result of their participation in the project and local tourism is emerging as a big winner.
Lance Oswald said Inverell Online is not just a website.
“Inverell Online is a whole new way of looking at Local Government’s role in this area,” he said.
For further information visit www.inverell-online.com.au or contact Lance Oswald, telephone (02) 6728 8288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.