Future Directions

Matt Gray
Manager IT Infrastructure

My job is looking after the infrastructure that runs the Councilís IT. I look after virtualisation products, servers, server software, server room hardware, I help run our fibre network between our different sites, all our switch gear, also the cables in the walls: all that kind of stuff.

The trend in IT in local government at the moment is heading to a more centralised model where you buy access to services.

Rather than running Microsoft Office ourselves, we may buy it in the cloud. For example, Office 365 is a product you can buy online, you download an app to your phone, and it streams the software to your PC .

I think local government is looking for opportunities to reduce costs.

Itís the same with data centres, because there are new cloud offerings coming with the NBN currently being rolled out in
our municipality.

Weíre starting to move away from the traditional Ďbox on the desk, box in the server roomí mentality, to buying access to services externally.

But there are also problems with cloud-based systems, because if we lose our link for whatever reason, we canít conduct our business.

Improvements in infrastructure in the future are going to reduce the risks of losing connectivity, so I think itís going to be something local government increasingly moves toward.

The NBN rollout is currently underway in Launceston.

Here at the Council we already have a high-speed internet service, but what will be new is that every home in Launceston will suddenly have that level of connectivity as well.

We are undertaking a couple of projects in readiness for the NBN, including new video conferencing facilities. The idea is that planners, for instance, will be able to talk directly to their clients through video conferencing.

This technology has been around for a while, but the NBN means everyone will be able to access it to its full potential.

Such technology will mean great changes for our Council.

Mike Tidey
Director Corporate Services

The Launceston City Council is the largest council in Tasmania and the 17th largest city in Australia and also one of the oldest.

I have worked in local government for 28 years and have seen many changes during my career, including the introduction of new technologies, changes to the services we provide, and amalgamations.

Launceston has become a major regional centre for economic and recreational activity.  Significant economic activities have changed from agriculture and finance to education, health and tourism.

Over my time the Council has had to deal with the upgrades and renewal of major infrastructure (flood levees, waste water treatment, combined drainage systems) and environmental issues, such as air and water quality.  The Council has received financial support for some of these infrastructure projects but the local community has also contributed significant funding.

In addition the Launceston City Council owns and operates major regional facilities like a spectacular indoor/outdoor aquatic centre and, as AFL fans will no doubt be aware, Aurora Stadium, home to the Hawthorn Football Club.

We also operate the largest regional museum in Australia, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

Such regional facilities bring huge benefits to our city, but their upkeep and ongoing costs are the responsibility of the Council and therefore our ratepayers.

This can be a significant challenge for a municipality that is not experiencing significant growth in its population or rate base.

Our philosophy on financial management is really about balance. Finding the right balance between rates and the costs of our fees and services is our priority at budget time.

The Council has since the 1980ís been at the forefront of new technologies to assist employees and this is now extending into new ways of engaging with the community to seek their views on how we prepare the budgets and consult on projects.

This year we are using our community engagement website Your Voice Your Launceston (www.yourvoiceyourlaunceston.com.au) to undertake budget consultation that is drawing on a much wider audience than the traditional town hall-style meetings of yesteryear.

The Council as the major regional council in northern Tasmania, and the largest council in the State, is facing significant challenges but in the surrounds of the Tamar Valley and the wonderful range of facilities it supports, there isnít any doubt that the community will continue to grow into the future.