Silver lining for two CIPA award winners

A municipal 311 program and a mobile learning project for post-secondary students both claimed silver awards of excellence at the 2006 Canadian Information Productivity Awards (CIPA).

The City of Calgary received their silver award for customer care in the not for profit category for their 311 program.

Calgary 311 went live in May of 2005, and was the first Canadian city to do so, according to Randy Vanee, project manager, IT corporate services, City of Calgary.

“311 is about transforming government and about providing a higher level of service to citizens,” said Vanee. “We recognized that most municipalities and most government agencies are open between 8 and 5 and that’s when most Calgarians are working.”

Vanee said that when a citizen comes home from work and their garbage hasn’t been picked up, they may want to contact the city right away but don’t want to go through 250 numbers in the blue pages to do so.

“They want to ensure that when they talk to somebody that it’s recorded and that there’s full accountability by the government agency to control how long before service is to be completed, and that it’s measured as well,” he said.

Based on customer need, Calgary led a consortium of Canadian cities including Toronto, in establishing a single easy to use phone number that would give citizens direct access to the municipal government, according to Vanee.

“We’re a full 311 city,” he said. “Citizens can call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and they can complain about barking dogs, potholes…whatever concerns them.”

Although they aren’t dealing with barking dogs and potholes, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College did want to step up its service to students and have done so through their Mobile Learning Program, according to Gerry Pinkney, the school’s vice president of IT services.

The program won their silver award of excellence for organizational transformation in the not for profit category.

“We’re focused on providing opportunities for students so they can succeed, and the success of the program is based on our faculty and their ability to use the technology we provide,” Pinkney said.

One of the major benefits for students is convenience, he said.

“Students can now anywhere, anytime, enjoy a wireless network, because every seat is wired,” said Pinkney. “Every course is online, so students can have their lectures streamed to them over the Internet or wireless device.

“Students can also re-experience lectures; they can re-experience the classroom environment.”

To be recognized at the CIPA awards represents an acceptance that the work the school is doing is important, and it’s not just about computing but they way we transition an organization, said Pinkey.

“The CIPA award recognizes that we’re on the right road and that we are changing education for the 21st century, and we’re proud of that,” he said.

That sense of pride was echoed by the Calgary winners.

“We do feel that it is very much an innovative project and that we really have transformed the way that citizens view the government so it’s an honour to be at the CIPA awards,” said Vanee.

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