Council receives Digital Oakville 2021 Plan Update
Wed, 28 Apr 2021
Plan will guide Oakville to be even more engaged and connected
Council received the town’s Digital Oakville 2021 plan at Monday’s meeting, which outlines the key projects and activities that will be rolled out this year in the areas of Online Services, Partnerships and Data Management; Digital Infrastructure; and Continuous Improvement.
“In today’s digitally-driven world, it’s more important than ever to be strategic in the way we invest in digital improvements in the town,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Our Digital Oakville 2021 plan shows how we continue to invest in technology and embrace innovation. With this plan, the Town of Oakville is well positioned to become a digital leader in the public sector.”
The Digital Oakville 2021 plan, which supports the Council’s strategic plan, builds on investments and improvements the town has made over the last several years. Highlights of the plan include:
- Moving applications, permits and licenses in the areas of planning, development, building and municipal enforcement services fully online. Staff will use a pilot approach and rely on user experience and feedback to make ongoing improvements.
- Launching a new online recreation and culture registration platform that will provide residents and user groups with an improved customer experience, increased self-serve options and a more seamless registration process for both seasonal and drop-in programs.
- Allowing customers to book, schedule and track a transit ride through a real-time ride-hailing mobile app, in areas in town that do not have rider volumes to support a conventional fixed route transit service model.
Partnerships and Data Management
- Engaging with the community to gather user/participant feedback to ensure continuous improvement and to make certain our service offerings meet user needs and are as simple and straightforward as possible
- Data analysis to ensure the town is efficient and respecting council’s direction to limit budget increase to the rate of inflation.
- Focusing on improved energy management in our buildings and exploring predictive modelling solutions for our assets
- Continue to expand the town’s free Wi-Fi access points, downtown and on Oakville Transit buses, as well as work with the region and telecommunication providers to expand and improve network connections.
- Adding more electric vehicle charging stations. The town already has several charging stations in place and will have 46 charging stations across town by the end 2021.
- Implementing parking sensors that will show available parking in our downtown core, allowing for easier access and predictive modelling opportunities. Results and lessons learned can then be duplicated elsewhere in the town.
- Duplicating successes in other areas of the town is a key component of the plan.
- Managing and maintaining facilities through building automation systems.
- Piloting artificial intelligence capabilities in road patrol software to detect road surface defects and automatically log service requests.
- Introducing a public facing ‘service tracker’ for the fall 2021 Bulk Loose Leaf Program. This builds on the snowplow tracker already available to residents and is a great example of how the town adds transparency to its service operations based on successes to date.
With all the Digital Oakville 2021 plan initiatives, the opportunities for technology investment are broad ranging and solutions are changing rapidly. As a result, the town has adopted a “build-measure-learn” approach where the initial service launch meets core needs but gradually matures based on user feedback. This approach will nurture a culture of data analytics and continuous improvement.
Looking beyond 2021, the town is working on a number of planned improvements, such as revamping the town’s web site with improved content management, easier navigation and user focused content. New Service Oakville features will allow more self-serve, an improved report a problem process and greater information sharing. In the near future, the town will also see online property tax functions. Finally, recognizing the knowledge and experience that many local companies have in digital innovation, the town will explore potential opportunities to continue to engage, test and learn.
“The Digital Oakville 2021 plan focuses on using the extensive data the town produces to improve services, and foster an organizational culture that embraces continuous improvement and digital innovation to meet citizen needs,” said Jane Clohecy, CAO. “The town’s commitment to innovation through enhancing digital service delivery and infrastructure well positions us to take advantage of economic, social and environmental opportunities. In doing so, these initiatives directly support the town’s vision of being the most livable town in Canada.”
For more information, review item 9.4 in the April 26, 2021 Council Agenda.
- In 2013, the town implemented many digital improvements including an open data portal, a new mobile-friendly web site and the town’s first citizen portal to submit online service requests and report a problem.
- In 2017, Council approved the town’s digital strategy to guide the digital transformation of the town and make Oakville the most digitally connected community. However, even before the approval of the digital strategy, the town has long invested in digital service improvements and its underlying infrastructure, whether it’s control systems for traffic management or transit operations; free Wi-Fi access points, or field tablets and telematics on vehicles to manage service levels. The town also invested in our customer service capabilities through online registrations, payments and our Service Oakville offerings.
- In 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and/or service restrictions, the town transitioned more services online to ensure service continuity in a safe and accessible way. Examples include, but are not limited to, receiving the majority of engineering permits and planning applications electronically, offering many recreation and culture program virtually, conducting all council and committee meetings and public information sessions virtually, and implementing cashless payments at the Service Oakville counter.
On December 21, 2020, Council requested that staff prepare a summary of the digital/innovation plan for 2021.