January 26, 2012 -- West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) and Cotswold District Council (CDC) have entered into a ‘Shared Service’ agreement with Astun Technology. The Councils already have a number of shared working arrangements in place, including several joint senior manager posts. From 2012 they will start developing a single IT service for both councils with one of the first projects being the two Council websites and internal map based data and asset management tools using Astun’s iShare data integration and publishing platform.
iShare is designed to provide public access to vital information via a Council’s website and is in use with over thirty Local Authorities in England and Wales. It uses a citizen’s address held in the Local Land and Property Gazetteer to pull information from a Council’s numerous service delivery systems and presents it in a single view. Citizens can also carry out ‘my nearest’ searches on local facilities and services, report faults, receive alerts and much more. iShare also works internally helping different Council departments to share data and includes an intelligent mapping facility. This provides everyone working in the Council with detailed access to Ordnance Survey mapping, aerial photography and selectable overlays of Council held assets and data together with comprehensive search and annotation tools. All the software is web based, underpinned by Open Source components and can be accessed through a web browser.
The iShare Services model takes into account existing joint working arrangements between Councils to promote ‘Shared Services’ for those organisations with limited in-house skills or infrastructure. The lead authority, in this case West Oxfordshire District Council acts as a ‘Node.’ The ‘Sub-Node’, Cotswolds District Council, will use services provided by WODC, primarily the Internet hosting of iShare. WODC already has a standard on site installation of iShare and will perform the administration tasks for CDC. These arrangements are extremely cost effective. Under the proposed plan the ‘My Cotswolds’ site will be up and running by April 2012.
“We are essentially taking a carbon copy of what we already have here with the only real difference being the underlying data,” said Sarah Turner, West Oxfordshire’s Business Solutions Manager.
Under these new arrangements both Councils are using the iShare GIS mapping module which West Oxfordshire will host but will be deployed at CDC first.
Sarah Turner continues, “It’ll be a huge win for CDC because they haven’t had universal intranet access to mapping or aerial photography before. They will start to benefit from everything that decent mapping, aerial photography and GIS can provide, such as fewer site visits, better planning enforcement and much more.”