Providing the missing link

WORK is under way to give an online presence to local councils across the State.

The Linking Councils and Communities (LLC) program will give local councils, particularly those in regional and remote areas, access to infrastructure and expertise that will allow their services to be made available on the Internet.

The Federal Government’s Networking the Nation program provided $6 million in funding for the program, which was initiated by the Western Australian Local Government Association.

As of September 2001, 74 of WA’s 144 local councils already had a website, but just five of these provided a substantial range of online services, such as facilities for the electronic payment of council rates or planning fees, for example.

Fifty two councils ran a basic, static website for their constituents, while 17 made occasional minor updates to their website.

The LLC program will officially begin in June or July this year, but pilot programs for some regional councils are expected to begin in May.

LLC program manager Alden Lee said tenders for infrastructure and service provision had been opened and responses to these were expected in the next few weeks. Once the tender period has closed, WALGA will spend between three and six weeks reviewing the tenders and choosing which companies will be involved in the project.

Mr Lee said WALGA anticipated vendors would tender either for the development aspect of the work or the telecommunications side. He said satellite technology would be used in some areas in preference to land-based connections to provide website access.

“It’s cost and practicality, but satellite technology is definitely very practical in some situations,” Mr Lee said.

The pilot programs are expected to take only a short time – one to two weeks – to set up, but they will be reviewed and, if necessary, improved over an evaluation period of four to six weeks.

Mr Lee said that, once initial development work had begun in individual councils, residents would be notified of the services available to them.

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