August 14, 2017

AMO is pleased to release a report on municipal digital government transformation, #OnMuni Online: Towards Digital Transformation and Opportunities for Ontario’s Municipal Governments.

Digital transformation is occurring in the municipal sector at a rapid pace. Municipal governments are responding to emerging technologies and disruption by implementing digital approaches to operations and service delivery. While some municipal governments are well ahead in their digital transformation efforts, many are at an early stage of maturation and require assistance moving digital priorities forward. Others, particularly in smaller, rural, northern and remote communities, have neither identified nor considered digital transformation as a priority for their local government.

To address this, last year, AMO formed a Digital Government Task Force to identify digital barriers and opportunities for municipal governments and to provide input to the provincial government on digital government initiatives recognizing the potential for impacts on the municipal and the broader public sector. AMO Board members Cathy Downer, Councillor, City of Guelph, and Rob Foster, Councillor, Town of Lincoln co-chair AMO’s Digital Government Task Force.

The intent of the report is to provide the municipal perspective on how to achieve effective and efficient digital transformation. Input from the Task Force, available research, and a survey of municipal staff responsible for digital efforts in their municipalities formed the basis of the report. Case studies of municipalities advancing the concept of digitalization are included to provide best practices and points of reference for others considering similar initiatives. The AMO Board approved the report at its meeting on August 12.

The report outlines key issues for municipal governments including capacity and resourcing to address IT and digital priorities, access to reliable high-speed internet, and preparing local governments for impacts to current services from ongoing disruptive technology and innovations. Opportunities including the value of digital documents and workflows, collaboration with the provincial government through its Ontario Digital Service, streamlining municipal reporting through digital portals, public engagement tools, among many others, are highlighted. The report also provides a detailed “how-to” approach to assist municipal governments considering digital transformation.

Recommendations made to the Province to help enable digital transformation for Ontario’s municipalities include:
  • Recognizing that municipal governments are at varying stages of digital maturation. Municipal digital transformation is an organic process, often driven by local needs within the community.
  • Providing support to enable successful municipal digital initiatives and overcome barriers through appropriate funding and human resourcing.
  • Collaborating with municipal governments to share data and establish coordinated integrated digital initiatives.
  • Establishing provincial-municipal digital government forums to engage with the sector to address municipal challenges.
  • Prioritizing improvements to broadband and cellular service so that all municipal governments and their communities have access to reliable, high-speed internet that enables them to be competitive and viable in the burgeoning digital economy.     
AMO will use the paper as the basis for potential business and service development as well as advocacy to the provincial government concerning digital government initiatives.