To meet the challenge of supplying the public with up-to-date information, Waterford Co Council is to publish the location of services, sports facilities and county amenities through an easy-to-use web mapping portal.

Describing the Council as the leader in IT among local authorities, County Manager Ray O’Dwyer paid tribute to the Council’s IT staff who researched the software for the new cutting-edge technology and found the easiest solution for the community to use.

There was a significant “buy in” from al sectors of the local authority, he said. Everybody had to be able to use the technology which would allow the Council to “do more for less”.

County Mayor Nora Flynn (FG) said the new system was professional. She showed a group from England around the Civic Offices in Dungarvan and they could not get over the work being done. Thanks to the staff, the members of the Council got all the IT training they needed to operate their computers without going on courses.

Council members were told during the presentation that the web-mapping portal would be easily accessible by all citizens and visitors to Waterford across multiple internet browsers while operating over potentially low bandwidths.

The new system was designed to be easy to use by untrained users and would provide improved public satisfaction, reduce queuing and telephone queries.

The Council plans to add more service information to their portal to continue to provide citizens and visitors with the latest service and amenity location information. The Council expects a decrease in the number of calls to its public service desk by publishing services and amenity information through its public website.

Meanwhile, a survey undertaken by the Council has found that 77% rated the authority’s customer service as “above average”.

The survey identified areas for improvement particularly in relation to businesses. In response, a dedicated Customer Care Centre had been established in the Civic Offices in Dungarvan, where public queries are dealt with at the first point of contact, and the Council’s Business Support Unit has been expanded.

Mr Curran said about 800 items a month were being logged with the customer relations management base database at the Customer Care Counter which indicated the popularity of the facility. With the recession there had been a reduction in economic activity in County Waterford across most sectors, most significantly in retail and construction, he said.

The County Manager emphasised: “t is important that we raise our profile as a County which is technologically forward looking and forward moving if we are to attract sustainable investment and market ourselves as a credible E-Business location.

“While we recognise the challenges we face in terms of reduced income and reduced staffing numbers for 2010 and future years, the Council’s five-year Corporate Plan commits to customer-focussed service delivery with the emphasis on sustainable and smart-job creation.”