Better connecting citizens to government was the main focus when Simon Finn, Queensland Minister for Government Services, Building Industry and Information and Communication Technology led a delegation of Queensland MP’s to Microsoft’s Sydney office this month.

The delegation included Barbara Stone MP (Springwood); Christine Smith MP (Burleigh); Desley Scott MP (Woodridge); Grace Grace MP (Brisbane Central); Lillian Van Litsenburg MP (Redcliffe); Mandy Johnstone MP (Townsville); and Mary-Anne O'Neill MP (Kallangur).

The briefing covered topics such as: improving business productivity by simplifying how people work together; exploring mobile phone applications to improve government services, and cloud based technologies such as the Windows Azure platform. For example, Microsoft has developed the 311 application for the City of Miami. The application allows residents to report issues online through Bing maps, such as potholes on the street, incidents of illegal dumping, or a missed garbage collection. Residents are then issued a service-request number to track progress of the issue to resolution.

The briefing also focused on the collaborative efforts between Microsoft Australia, Queensland Flood Recovery Operations Group (QFROG), Department of Community Safety, and Department of Public Works which led to the development of a number of interagency collaboration solutions as well as the public facing “pledge” website being built and deployed during the Queensland flood crisis. The pledge site allows organisations to provide information on items they wish to donate, and allowing government agencies to be able to deploy the items quickly and efficiently where they are most needed. This technology was also deployed during the Christchurch earthquake and the recent earthquake in Japan.