Toronto.ca/council improves public access to government and receives awards for innovation |
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A special presentation was made at Toronto City Council this morning to acknowledge the City Clerk's new browser application toronto.ca/council, which has won multiple awards for improving access to local government through the use of technology. Toronto.ca/council is designed to help Toronto residents and businesses have better, faster and more convenient access to information from their local government.
The City of Toronto has recently received awards from three different organizations for http://www.toronto.ca/council, which is a component of the City's Toronto Meeting Management Information System (TMMIS).
The awards received by the City are the 2011 Willis Award for Innovation for a community with a population over 100,000 by the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) for providing easier, faster access to government through http://www.toronto.ca/council; the EA Danby Award for Excellence in Municipal Administration for cities with more than 20,000 residents; and the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Ontario award to recognize significant initiatives that set standards for other municipalities to follow in the category of Service to Citizens.
The City developed the browser-based application internally to manage the large volume of legislative information Canada's largest city processes daily. It is the first product of its kind in North America. The City Clerk's Office uses TMMIS to process and store the City's legislative information, with large amounts of that information streamlined to pages on http://www.toronto.ca/council the same day, where they can be publicly viewed.
The second phase of the TMMIS system, toronto.ca/council was launched December 1, 2010. The system allows the public to find information and background reports quickly and improves the way the public can engage Council and committees. It is an intuitive computer application that allows the public, when following a report, to stay on the same page to review documents or communicate with the City, helping people better understand how their local government works.
Unique features of toronto.ca/council include:
• People can click on a report and from the same page submit their comments to the City, submit a formal request to make a deputation, or in some cases use the mapping feature to view the sites identified in a City report to get a sense of location and impact.
• The Meeting Monitor feature allows people to track the progress reports during a meeting of committee or Council in real time. The Meeting Monitor features the report and the sequential order of business items to be considered, and notes when items are passed or deferred to another meeting - so people don't need to be in the committee room or council chamber to follow an item's progress.
• All agendas and items have unique URLs so users can bookmark a page or email it to others.
• People can view the attendance of committee or Council members and the results of the recorded votes for specific reports.
• The information is formatted for viewing on a mobile/PDA/tablet device.
TMMIS is the City's internal document and decision management tool, and provides workplace efficiencies allowing multiple staff to simultaneously use the product and even work on the document at the same time. It replaces numerous web systems and software products. It has produced a number of efficiencies/benefits for staff in processing and accessing information in the following way:
• A database approach to sharing meeting information elements allows staff to assemble, update and published legislative information quickly.
• There has been a reduction in requests for copies of reports and communications since all information (including revisions and additions) is provided online and in real time.
The TMMIS project started in 2006. Staff will continue to develop improvements in keeping with new, developing technologies. One clear benefit of the TMMIS is that the City has dramatically reduced the use of paper for the printing of committee and City Council reports by 60 per cent. The City Clerk's Office has changed its business processes, and in using the TMMIS has made information more easily accessible by both staff and the public.
Over the first four months of 2011 there were 60,632 visits to http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
|Director, Secretariat, City Clerk's Office|