As the Sunshine Coast’s reputation as the nation’s hotspot for innovation continues to grow, its local government has set a new benchmark for community engagement on planning and development matters with the launch of Development.i.
Developed in-house, Sunshine Coast Council’s Development.i sets a new standard for public information and engagement through DA tracking systems.
This simple and intuitive website offers users a host of powerful new features, including enhanced search options, instant visualisation of results, setting alerts for development applications within a specific area or use and the ability to retain search results.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said Development.i was one of the first of its kind and would be a game-changer for the way development information is accessed by the community.
“Our council is driving a vision for the Sunshine Coast to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative – and now we can add Development.i to the list of exciting and innovative projects we have delivered on behalf of our community,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Our Council is delivering some of the most exciting regional infrastructure projects in Australia at this time, including our new city centre currently being built at Maroochydore and the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport, which when complete in 2020, will deliver Australia’s next international gateway.
“Our Sunshine Coast Solar Farm – Queensland’s largest, grid connected solar farm – was commissioned last year and it off-sets 100 per cent of council’s electricity usage with energy from a renewable source.
“Recently, we also announced that agreements are in place to deliver an international broadband submarine cable, which will provide the fastest data and telecommunications connection from Australia to Asia from the Sunshine Coast.”
“Add to that the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital which opened in April last year, a buoyant business community and our fantastic lifestyle and you can see why our region is a magnet for innovators and creativity.”
Three years in the making, Development.i fully replaces PD Online, providing all the same information but in a much more accessible way.
Planning and Development Portfolio Councillor Christian Dickson said Development.i was about enabling the Sunshine Coast community to be better informed, while creating better customer experiences and engagement on development matters.
“When introduced across South East Queensland councils in 2007, PD Online represented a marked improvement in transparency and community participation in the development assessment process,” Cr Dickson said.
“It grew to be one of Sunshine Coast Council’s most frequently accessed sub-sites with 150,000 sessions and close to one million site visits per year.
“Since then, our community’s desire to be kept informed and contribute to the planning system continued to grow and evolve, but the standard format of PD Online no longer met their needs.
“A market scan indicated there was no readymade solution to meet our requirements, so council developed the new platform in-house – with much success.”
Development.i offers a simple to use and navigate website with flexible search features, which allow users to easily locate the information they are interested in.
It also builds on the transparency of PD Online by allowing users to understand at a local, regional or land use level what development is taking place around them, by simply typing their suburb into the map search.
“Our goal is for our residents to continue to be empowered and involved in the planning process as they discover how simple and quick Development.i is to use and become accustomed to finding what they are looking for,” Cr Dickson said.
“They can also jump into the details of an application easily, access documents, and if they wish, make a comment or submission on a proposal.”
Development.i will also streamline business processes for industry users.
“It’s now easy to access up-to-date planning and zoning constraints and development history to work up proposals more efficiently, respond to enquiries or prepare applications.
“Our industry users can get a quick overview of applications or approvals in an area or take the time to dive deeper.
“They can visualise certain types of development on a map.
“There’s the option to sign up to get alerts on new applications in an area; or on and around a property; or changes to specific applications of interest, saving time and offering the ability to easily meet a client’s needs.”
It will also save council time and resources.
“Development.i delivers on our goal to provide fast and efficient business and good customer experience – which is vital component to encouraging investment and smart growth in any region,” Cr Dickson said.
“It also offers greater customer self-service capabilities.
“As an example, our planning team receives about 40,000 development enquires per year, and about 50 per cent of these queries are on simple zoning questions or application status updates which can now be answered by Development.i at the convenience of the customer.
“With Development.i, users can access information from their desk top, tablet or phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The feedback so far has been positive from both the community and industry with 19,300 page visits in the first week.
“We will continue to refine the product as we receive feedback from our users,” Cr Dickson said.
“Council is also conscious that there are many public-sector agencies that currently provide public access to planning and development information that could benefit from the enhanced features of Development.i.
“And we are exploring how this solution can be provided to other parties who are interested in taking the next step with their DA information.”
Development.i is an initiative of the Sunshine Coast Council and supported by the Queensland Government through the Innovation and Improvement Fund.
Visit the website to start your search.
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