Govt ICT goes online

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The SA Local Government Association (Salga) has introduced the Local Government ICT (LGICT) Network, a dedicated online community for ICT practitioners to improve public service delivery.

“In line with Salga's advisory and profiling mandate, the LGICT Network will enable local authorities to share IT best practices, solutions, ideas and services - not only for their own mutual benefit, but for the public they serve.”

Speaking at the launch of the network last week, Douglas Cohen, economic development and ICT specialist at Salga, said: “Traditionally, municipalities operated in a very isolated non-uniform manner and the vast majority are ill-prepared to face up to the ICT resource, skill and budget constraints.

“While differentiated requirements make a universal out-the-box solution approach difficult, we believe that municipalities and the community at large stand to gain considerable benefit from proven good practice approaches.”

He adds that it is the exchange of actual municipal ICT practices that will lead to better networking, learning, peer-to-peer support and collaboration within the local government sphere. Also, the portal allows for collaboration with the private sector.

“More importantly, municipal ICT practitioners will be able to access, share and comment on what they feel is relevant ICT information, knowledge, news and good practice.”

Successful model

Salga says the LGICT Network is modelled on the successful SA LED Network, an online portal hosted by Salga to facilitate information-sharing on local economic development.

“With over 2 000 registered users to date, the LED Network experienced a huge uptake since Salga took over the project in early 2010 and refocused it on critical issues common to local government.”

Based on an open community model, development of the LGICT portal is also in line with government's open source policy.

“We used Drupal, a Web development framework well-known for its excellent support of Web services and superior tools for information architecture. This provides us with the means to easily integrate with mobile platforms, social media and, ultimately, to empower the users,” says advisor for ICT and development at Salga Christian Zange.

Membership of the LGICT Network is free to all local government ICT role players.

The portal will be a central component of ConnectIT, the local government ICT network event, which takes place from 19 to 21 July at the Birchwood Hotel, in Johannesburg.

Related story:
IT skills boost for municipalities

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