One of the great challenges every municipality faces is how to deliver higher quality services to its citizens and businesses while their budgets consistently seem to shrink. Several of Canada’s leading communities are taking a pro-active role and are experimenting with shared services (an outsourcing or regional consolidation model); and almost all of them are looking at the Internet to be a low-cost channel for services delivery. Both these and other strategies are all the right steps towards a smarter and connected reality. Municipal leaders, however, recognized that one can’t quite eliminate the much needed face to face interactions with its constituents while delivering high-touch services–both from a quality and a security perspective.
Surely, the transformation of governmental services can’t be a burden that should solely rest on the shoulders of the municipality, although it is understood that they are the closest connected to the real needs and concerns of citizens and businesses in Canada. But what about the Federal services for which I have to go to Service Canada (I truthfully sat in their waiting room this week for 90 minutes so I could submit paperwork for a passport renewal)? Or Provincial services for which I need to go to Service Ontario? Passports, driver licenses, health cards, marriage certificates…does anyone still know for what to go where? Add to this Canada Post with its 6,500 services outlets. Or the municipal library systems (where there is more than books). And community centers all around the country for outreach and engagement.