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Modernization Project

Background

Some of Ontario’s small and rural municipalities have limited capacity to plan, modernize and improve the way they provide services to their communities.

In March 2019, the province announced a one-time investment of $200 million for 405 of Ontario’s small and rural
municipalities to improve local service delivery and efficiency. The fund was "unconditional", and intended to help modernize service delivery and reduce future costs and therefore funded initiatives should focus on service delivery reviews, shared service agreements or Information Technology (IT) solutions.

The Town of East Gwillimbury was the successful recipient of $725,000. This funding was allocated based on the number of households in a municipality and whether the municipality is urban or rural to ensure investments were targeted to where they are needed most.

To-date, the Province has informally proposed that investments should focus on funding Information Technology (IT) solutions, service delivery reviews, and the development of shared services agreements, all of which would help reduce future municipal costs and improve program and service delivery.

Town’s Program Vision

A Business Solutions Advisory Team (BSAT) was created in November of 2018 and individuals from various departments were identified as members tasked with proposing opportunities to improve business efficiencies, improve access to data and support the continuous development and growth of Town programs and services.

Following the provincial announcement and receipt of the $725,000 modernization fund, BSAT members met in April of 2019 to discuss projects that could align with the informal provincial criteria. As part of this meeting, staff were asked to submit proposed ideas for the funds. Members also developed internal evaluation criteria that focused on three main elements:

  1. Resident value/impact – How would the project positively impact residents?
  2. Business efficiency and Modernization – How would the project create business efficiencies and allow for modernization within the organization?
  3. Legislative impact – Is the project impacted by legislation, thus requiring it to move forward at some point in time?

The goal of this exercise was to help individuals identify initiatives that would typically not qualify for alternative funding sources (i.e. grants, budget approval) but would immensely support modernization efforts, help reduce future municipal costs and achieve value for money.

As part of the process of identifying modernization projects, the BSAT made presentations to the Extended Management Team (EMT) and Senior Management Team (SMT). The proposed modernization project list has been endorsed by both.

Modernization Projects

At Council on November 5, 2019 Council approved the following Modernization Projects. These projects will all be led by internal Project Managers, and utilize subject matter experts to complete the work within the next two to three years.

Resident Self-Serve Access

Project Budget: $100,000
Anticipated Completion Date: Initial roll out Spring 2020, followed by additional features in 2021

Currently there is no ability for residents to conduct business with the Town online and all activities must be conducted in person, via an interaction with staff. As we grow, we must utilize technology to create efficiencies for “day to day” tasks which can be accomplished via a self-serve portal, rather than hiring staff to keep up with
the demand. In order to launch these new items, we need to partner this project with the launch of a new website/portal as the current one no longer meets the needs of the organization and has issues regarding AODA compliance, mobile access, online security, ease of updating, and relevant content.
This project would seek to develop a centralized self serve (on demand, 24x7) resident portal that would provide residents with access to ebilling (billing sent electronically), online account information (access to data about tax and water account totals, due dates, balance etc.), online submissions of forms (digital submission of all forms residents submit to the Town ranging from permits, dog licenses to fire permits), and online payments (of all payments including items such as parking tickets, building permits etc.). All of these items would be showcased
through a portal/website update.

By creating an online portal connected via the Town’s website, efficiencies can be achieved and residents can have easier access to data and online solutions. This aligns with the strategic plan and will ensure higher transparency, increased communications with residents, and provide a paperless solution for submissions,
billings and payments.

Website Enhancement & Redesign

Project Budget: $200,000
Anticipated Completion Date: Q2 2021

The 2019 to 2022 Strategic Plan identifies Council’s commitment to enhance Customer Service focused culture with increased engagement and communications. In 2019, one of the most effective communication tools any organization can have is a reliable website. The Town’s website was last redesigned in 2010. Since that time web and mobile technology has significantly changed the user experience and user expectations continue to grow. This project would seek to redevelop the Town's website utilizing a new service provider. The goal of this project is to ensure that the redesign would properly represent the Town's image, and centralize its social, digital and online
opportunities, while meeting regulatory requirements such as AODA compliance and online security. The current service provider no longer supports upgrades and backend development changes to the website required to meet legislation or communication needs of the Town.

This project will look at creating a new user-focused mobile-friendly platform with a focus on GIS (mapping) and enhanced search abilities. The project will also include a refresh of content and content management training. The website will continue to be the home base of Town program and service information and will provide access
to the Town’s new online portal and connect with the CityView online permitting process.

Council Chamber Community Engagement Improvement Project

Project Budget: $15,000
Completion Date: Complete

Livestreaming of open Council and Committee of the Whole Meetings began at the first meeting of the new term of Council in December of 2018. Since that time staff have received a number of public inquiries and feedback regarding suggested enhancements to the livestreaming experience. Some of these suggestions include
multiple screen input options and multiple camera angles.

This project seeks to enhance Council livestreaming services for better communication with our residents/stakeholders and to provide adequate workspace for support staff during Council and Committee meetings. Modest improvements to the Council Chamber will enhance existing municipal services to meet existing and future operational demands.

On April 16, 2019 Council authorized funding the Council Chamber Community Engagement Improvement Project from the General Capital Reserve. However, staff recommend that this project be funded from the Modernization Program fund instead, as it aligns directly with the Informal Provincial Criteria for Fund Allocation and the Town’s Program vision.

Phone System Automation & Upgrades

Project Budget: $60,000
Anticipated Completion Date: Q2 2020

 As we continue to grow, we must ensure our internal systems and software continue to meet the needs of our municipality. The Town’s current phone system is currently due for an update to the voicemail server. As such, we have incorporated this capital request in the modernization fund and included several system enhancements that will allow our phone system to provide an enhanced experience for residents and greater data for reporting to ensure we can make data based business decisions.

The enhancements include upgrading to the newest version of the software which allow for the addition of more efficient reporting tools related to the daily operation of the phone system. This data will be utilized by the Supervisor of Customer Service and Director of Communications and Customer Service to make intelligence based
decision for a variety of items such as staffing levels.

In addition, the program will include an upgrade that will allow staff to record announcements instead of using on hold music. This will provide an additional communication tool for residents. The final upgrade includes the addition of speech recognition software, which allow users who call in to verbally state the name of the individual they are looking for and then be connected. This will enhance the user experience and help eliminate
transfers to the Customer Service call centre, creating a more efficient and resident focused system.

Mobile Library Solution

Project Budget: $70,000
Anticipated Completion Date: Q2 2020

As the community continues to grow, there is need for a modern, convenient and flexible Library Service in the community. The library system currently has 2 physical branches and a digital branch, however as the community has grown significantly since the last library opened its doors in 1998, there is need to create a more
accessible library system in East Gwillimbury. The start-up costs of opening a physical branch carry heavy capital and operating costs, and through RFID technology the library can now install a Material Vending solution in high traffic areas to increase accessibility of services in the community while new branches are planned and built.

A material vending solution provides residents with easy access to books without adhering to library hours of operation and can be affixed in community hub locations such as community centres, shopping plazas and transit stations, and can be moved depending on the areas of need. EG has a dispersed population and the Material
Vending Solution creates library services in areas with no permanent physical library. A Material Vending solution and Hold Pick Up Locker provides residents with a choice in how they access library service to meet the needs of their lifestyle.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Project Budget: $150,000
Anticipated Completion Date: TBD

The Town is developing an Information Management Plan (IMP) to guide the use, management and protection of the Town’s information-based assets. This plan focuses on modernizing current methods of service delivery and reducing future costs. A core facet of the IMP is Enterprise Content Management (ECM). Other elements of IMP include: Data Security, Digital Transformation, Public Self-Serve Action Plan, and Data Management Plan.
In November of 2018, the Town engaged the services of Diverse Systems Group (DSG) to conduct an independent review of the state of its records and content management practices. During this assignment, DSG made several observations and recommendations related to the current processes and identified significant improvements that could be made with appropriate organizational support, development and implementation of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and the strategic use of supportive technology.

This project seeks to implement an efficient solution that provides for a centralized platform (“master filing cabinet”) where content can be held and disseminated in a manner that meets regulatory compliance requirements and risk management guidelines. An ECM solution focuses on content and its life cycle, from capture and creation to long-term retention or deletion. A properly architected and implemented ECM solution takes into account backups, archives, near and off-line storage, and disaster recovery. An ECM solution allows us to turn our unstructured content into assets and implement a cohesive strategy for securely managing content across the corporation by streamlining processes, eliminating redundant or out-of-date copies/versions of content (physical and electronic) which impact data integrity, increasing productivity by having access to the right information at the right time, and enhancing the Town’s Business Continuity Plan.

InfoNow

Project Budget: $70,000
Anticipated Completion Date: TBD 

Modernization, centralization and integration are key next steps in the Town’s information systems (application and databases) maturity process as they will elevate the Town into a position of corporate efficiency and customer satisfaction. The current corporate data management processes requires extensive improvements as many of the Town’s data are departmentally isolated. With the implementation of the Enterprise Content Management System, the Town will be equipped with the necessary IT tools to successfully deliver reliable content to staff and effectively implement the InfoNow project.

This project will utilize subject matter experts to conduct backend work in various computer programming languages to connect current Town systems and integrate data. Successful implementation of this project is a cost saving step to improve inquiry response times and increase data integrity.

Digital Project Window

Project Budget: $60,000
Anticipated Completion Date: TBD

With several Community Parks and Recreation Culture (CPRC) capital projects spread across a wide geographical area, providing updates, progress and scheduled milestones to stakeholders, staff and the public may not necessary occur in a timely fashion. In addition, staff resources are required on a frequent daily basis to monitor
on site construction activity that potentially limits capacity with other responsibilities. This project would utilize a construction project camera to create a "digital window" for residents and staff to view progress and milestones of various Town projects.

Implementation of a Digital Project Window allows instant access to the job site and enhances project management in real time from any computer or mobile device. The Town will have the ability to capture the big picture and the little details for each project. The construction cameras and technology bring together all aspects of the project to ensure success through constant high definition image monitoring, timelapse video, and an intuitive interface that can be accessed from any location.

Instant insight into the job site provides "real time" virtual imaging into construction progress to ensure that accountability is held with contractors for CPRC projects to run efficiently, on time and on budget.

Questions

Please contact: Laura Hanna, Director of Communications and Customer Servicelinks to external site

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