Free website encourages information sharing

Bundaberg Regional Council’s Manager Assets, Wayne Eddy, recently set up a free website to encourage cooperative information sharing across councils. Having gone live last October, the Local Government and Asset Management (LGAM) Knowledge Base already has over 900 pages of information.

Wayne Eddy decided to develop the site after realising that a similar, internal site he maintains for Bundaberg would be of just as much use to other councils.

He said LGAM’s main focus is asset management, but it also contains information about geographical information systems, finance systems, Local Government terminology, legislation, and other subjects of interest to councils.

“All articles and information on the site are contributed freely by site members, and anyone and everyone is encouraged to join,” Wayne Eddy said. “There are over 550 councils in Australia alone, and many thousands world wide. This equates to a huge amount of knowledge and expertise, which if shared freely will benefit all councils everywhere.”

LGAM contains a page for every Australian council, and data entered on these pages can be used to automatically generate various lists. For example, pages about asset management systems contain auto generated lists of the councils currently using each system.

Like Wikipedia, the LGAM is wiki based, which means its content can be edited by its users. It has involved no cost to establish as it is hosted for free by Wikidot, which is a relatively new Web 2.0 concept known as a ‘wiki farm’, where core wiki code is installed in a server or an array of servers.

Wayne Eddy did most of the initial setup of the site from home and is gradually adding the content using work hours. He said LGAM can be viewed without signing up to Wikidot, but anyone wishing to edit information will need to register, which is free.  

“The majority of the information on the site has been contributed by just a few users, but editing pages is easy and over 40 users have made at least one contribution,” he said. “I hope that one day, every council will see that sharing information involves exactly the same amount of effort as hoarding it, and that it will actually result in less effort, not more, in the long term.”

Wayne Eddy said that in the past, knowledge was mostly in people’s heads, hard copy documents, or sitting in a directory somewhere.  

“More recently, document management systems have made it easier for council staff to find information internally, but accessing information from other councils has been more difficult,” he said. “There has been a lot of duplication of effort and reinventing of the wheel because councils have been unable to share their knowledge effectively. Web 2.0 can hopefully change all that, and with a bit of luck, the LGAM Knowledge Base will be the first of many similar knowledge sharing projects set up to cover all aspects of Local Government endeavour.”

For further information contact Wayne Eddy on 07 4130 4851 or visit LGAM at http://lgam.wikidot.com