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Alpine Shire apps herald new era of efficiency

Article image - Alpine Shire apps herald new era of efficiency (l – r) Alpine Shire Council’s Manager Development Services & Amenity, Nick Vlahandreas and GIS Officer, Barrett Higman make use of the Bushfire Prevention App. Innovative iPad applications are paving the way for improved efficiency, safety and accuracy at the Alpine Shire Council in Victoria.

With the assistance of external consultants in the final stages of development, council staff have created an application for use in asset inspection, a mobile visitors’ guide to the region and, perhaps most crucial for the bushfire-prone region, an application to make fire prevention inspections more efficient.

The ‘Bushfire Prevention App’ was developed by Council’s Manager Development Services and Amenity, Nick Vlahandreas, GIS Officer, Barrett Higman and Fire Prevention Officer, Darryl Farmer.

First launched in time for the 2011 bushfire season, the unique application makes assessing properties for fire risk more efficient and more accurate.
Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Ian Nicholls, said the application halved the time required for the task, which was vitally important given the nature of the Alpine Shire.

“Not only is it much faster but it’s more accurate, and is linked with planning permits, so all the information on properties is literally in the hands of our fire prevention officer.”

Funding for the development of the app was sourced from the Victorian Government’s financial commitment to bushfire-affected councils, to help them meet the recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

Alpine Shire Council received a commendation for the Bushfire Prevention App at the Planning institute of Australia Awards for Planning Excellence, for the app’s ability to enforce planning permit conditions issued under the Bushfire Management Overlay.

Council’s other work with applications was recognised at the recent 2012 Telstra Local Government Awards for Excellence, receiving the Local Government Information Communication Technology Innovation Fellowship grant for its Asset Inspection System Application.

The application allows outdoor staff to conduct maintenance inspections on bridges, footpaths and roads with reduced costs and increased efficiency.

Mr Nicholls said the award was a clear indicator that Council was leading the way in embracing new technology for the benefit of the Shire and its residents.

“This application has wide ranging benefits, including a 50% saving in the time it takes to inspect assets,” he said. “The app reduces the chance for human error and lost information and cuts back on administrative costs.”

Now, Alpine Shire Council’s applications have extended to visitors, with the recent launch of the Bright & Surrounds Official Visitors Guide (OVG) app, which allows visitors to access information and contact details on accommodation providers from across the Alpine Shire from their iPhone or iPad.

Mr Nicholls said the app brings everything the Alpine Shire has to offer right to visitors’ fingertips: “This is a great step forward in allowing us to showcase the Shire in a mobile, accessible way.

“Council continues to make use of iPads and application technology to streamline its operations, reduce its paper use and ensure staff and councillors are connected while on the move.”