Eastleigh Borough Council has integrated several key systems by using browser-based functionality to give its staff and local residents better access to property-related services.
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Over the past two years the Hampshire council has developed an online system to provide public access to map-based information and has set up a linked website that makes details of all planning applications available electronically.
The first of the systems to go live was the map-based service, which was customised by GIS (geographical information system) specialist GGP based on a model it first developed in partnership with Gosport Borough Council.
The fact that only customisation was required meant that the project was far cheaper than it would otherwise have been, making it easier for Eastleigh to justify the investment.
The site launched two years ago this July, offering an address-search function on the council's mapping website that linked to its local land and property gazetteer.
The GIS software is now linked with a range of council functions available to residents and staff, but integrating with the online planning function was a key aim from the outset.
Working with GGP, the council went through a detailed evaluation and development process to make this possible, taking in changes in working and business practices within its planning unit alongside the technical challenge posed by back-end integration.
The council also had to ensure that the quality of the historical data it was loading onto the system was good enough, which required a major investment of time and effort.
Since the system went live, the number of telephone enquiries about planning applications has decreased substantially, and the overall number of consultation responses has gone up, meaning increased community participation has been made possible with lower staffing overheads.
Online availability also means that users - both planning officers and members of the public - have around-the-clock access to up-to-date planning data.
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