Argyll and Bute Council is piloting a new hyper-local information tool designed to provide residents with up-to-date information about public services on their own doorstep.
The six-month pilot of ‘forWhereiAm’ allows people living in the area to find out service information relevant to their local community simply by entering their postcode under the ‘What’s happening near me?’ section on the right-hand side of the council’s home page.
The authority says this will include everything from service disruptions, info on schools, council buildings, and bin collections, to planning applications, local events, local news, council meetings and other public notices.
A news release issued on behalf of IT and property entrepreneur Shaf Rasul, who is backing the forWhereiAm initiative, the brainchild of Edinburgh-based computing and electronics engineer Dr Nazish Aslam, describes the scheme thus: “It harnesses a real time message broadcast network that connects organisations directly to service users with accurate, location specific dynamic information.
“Its enabling technology for web applications has been specifically designed to ensure that only information of relevance reaches users, based on where they are, down to the exact postcode.
“An entirely unique proposition, forWhereiAm effectively becomes a personalised, multi-channel one-stop-shop for information that is specifically relevant to the user. It saves users having to trawl through different webpages to get the information they need about their locale.”
Councillor Donald Kelly, the authority’s policy lead for customer support, said: “We believe that forWhereiAm can potentially be a very useful method of providing our very dispersed populations with key information about things that affect them in their neighbourhoods, in the process making our website more attractive to new users.
“It’s very early days as we still need to test it out fully, but we are very hopeful that it will provide a huge and innovative improvement to our service delivery.
“The idea itself is very good, providing hyper local information on what is happening across Argyll and Bute, and we look forward to seeing what it can do for service users and how user-friendly they find it.
“However, our online service development doesn’t stop here. We will continue to listen to our customers and make improvements in a bid to allow residents, businesses and visitors to contact the Council and access the online services they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
forWhereiAm creator, Dr Nazish Aslam said: “It’s great to see my technology having such a worthwhile application at local authority level and potentially making a real difference to such geographically widespread communities.
“It’s also exciting to be working with a truly forward-thinking council that has a proven track record of innovation.
“There can be a lot of information noise out there – sometimes you just want to cut that out and source the filtered, localised information that you really need, by getting it sent straight to you.
“With forWhereiAm, council service users can see all of the announcements that are of relevance to them on their own doorstep. It brings information directly to them and places it in the palm of their hand, encouraging local business and greater web footfall.”