How can government improve customer service using its own data?

Government departments are being thrown the challenge: improve customer service levels with the same or reduced costs. And at the same time, can you provide new services like making all of your data open and available. Seemingly an unfair request, but the solution is simple.

The data you have may not be on your balance sheet, but it is an asset.  The return you derive from that asset depends on how you apply it.

When a business makes data requests of government, it is often hard to find the right information.

The process is manual and delays occur when the results don’t match expectations.

A global drive is encouraging government to improve customer service by applying idle data assets to real world problems and making them accessible in visual formats such as maps.

Instead of unused data collecting digital dust, it is being used to add value and improve service delivery.


Bringing data to life

Your data assets become valuable when two things happen: they are made available to a large amount of people and they are in a format that is easily consumable (like a map).

“Data we present as an app is more useful than just a collection of documents,” WA parliamentarian Shane Love told a recent breakfast on the importance of creating tangible benefits from public data.

Maps are familiar to everyone and have a unique ability to make data come alive.

They reveal relationships between data that were impossible to see when the same data lived in spreadsheets or other such documents.

Like many executives, when I travel to new places, the first thing I reach out for is the map. Where am I? Where is my next meeting? Where can I go for a jog or walk after work?

Putting data on a map makes it relevant to the people looking at it and gives them insight at speeds previously unimaginable.

Now imagine putting rich government data onto a map and giving access to it internally and externally.

Suddenly, you have taken idle data and made it contextually relevant and valuable.

Some departments have already commissioned projects that are delivering substantial community benefits.

By opening up their data and presenting it in a map format, one government department was able to reduce service times from ten days to two minutes.


Water information for everyone

The Western Australian Department of Water was concerned it was taking too long to process water information requests, affecting customer service.

The process was manually intensive – whether the request was simple or complex. The solution: develop an automated Water Information Reporting system.

By organising and opening up datasets, they were able to make information more accessible and relevant.

The solution uses a combination of maps and traditional databases to provide a simple, useable data interface.

It is available to staff for updating and processing customer service requests. More importantly, it is publicly available online where anyone can easily find water information instantly.

By developing an accessible automated system, the department has reduced service time radically.


You can benefit too

The task of reducing costs and increasing service in government has been addressed successfully by some.

Opening up your data internally and externally in easily consumable formats like maps provides a proven path to follow for great outcomes.


Learn how your department could use data to improve customer service.  Sign up for our webinar at


Perth. W.A.
A wonderful suggestion and solution to inapt government departments. It should become mandatory for all government departments. Federal-, State- and Local.

Manning, WA
Australian Government have been taking a leading role in this matter since 2001 and whilst the States and Territories are slowly following suit what we are seeing are the Google's and other crowdsourcing players of the world fast tracking the delivery of previous government type services - whilst maybe not authorative data, it is current and reasonably accurate - sufficient for decision processes. Governments need to reassess whether those involved are taking on board their custodial responsibilities - clearly it would appear WA Department of Water is, and it's time others joined the journey.

It never ceases to amaze me how much we are stripped of our income via the various layers of taxes to cover Govt costs whilst at the same time we are constantly being laidened with layer upon layer of Govt bureaucracy and inefficiency having to repeat our personal information to Govt Depts. Perfect examples are Immigration and Customs where we have to fill in the same details on entry and departure cards every time we leave or enter the country or have to repeat our details every single time we have to answer a question or submit a form to Centrelink. Surely with current IT systems and technology the various departments can be networked so we don't have to keep wasting our time repeating ourselves and Govt can reduce or redeploy staff who are currently handling the same data over and over again. It's a blatant waste. A waste of our taxes, our time and resources.

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