The City of Sydney has introduced paperless processing for Development Application submissions. Digital copies of plans and supporting documentation can now be provided by a USB stick.  The change, which took place on 6 March 2017, is not only great for the environment but also expedites and streamlines the Development Application process.

City of Sydney paperless processing – key points:

  • Digital copies of Development Applications, technical drawings, plans and other supporting documentation can now be provided via a USB stick
  • Modifications and/or appeals to existing DAs can also be provided digitally
  • The electronic plans and documents will be used for public viewing during the exhibition period
  • Applications will still need to be submitted in person or by post, with the USB stick. The City of Sydney cannot yet accept the electronic documents via email or online.
  • For more information on the new process please visit the City of Sydney website under Lodging Paperless Applications.

The change to paperless processing is a display of the City of Sydney’s commitment to continuous improvement and accessible information. According to the City of Sydney Development Application Guide, the change enables:

  • Planners and surveyors to extract relevant information for assessment reports
  • Plans and documentation of DAs to be electronically displayed during the exhibition period
  • Easier copying of information during the exhibition period of DAs to meet our statutory requirements
  • As all the electronic information provided will be publicly available (excluding part A of the DA application form and non-exhibition DA plans), personal information such as credit card details and any other personal information must not be copied onto the USB.

Why hasn’t the City of Sydney embraced digital entirely?

Although the change to paperless processing is a step forward in the right direction, the City of Sydney still haven’t embraced digital entirely. Applicants are still required to either post or drop off a USB stick in person and cannot yet lodge documents by email or via an online portal.

According to the ‘Digital Strategy for the City’ the main reason behind the limitation relates to a lack of resourcing within the council:

“A digital workplace requires a high degree of IT systems integration with increasingly complex security solutions and technology. However there is currently an inconsistent level of capability to assess, implement and operate the information systems the City needs.”

However an online portal may become available sooner rather than later. The City of Sydney has recently introduced two new technology-focussed leadership positions in response to the new digital strategy. They advertised for a Chief Technology and Digital Services Officer and a Chief Data and Management Executive.

“These experts will advise the City on how best to use emerging and established technologies to meet the requirements of the Council and to improve operations and services,” a spokesperson told Computerworld.

Together, the two new roles will oversee the City’s information and technology strategy. The data and information management position will hold the main responsibility;

“for developing the City’s strategy for information management, data and analytics, and for driving improvements in information and data quality so that the value of information is maximised in support of the City’s strategic goals,” recruitment documents state.

The drafted digital strategy was open for public review up until 10 April 2017. The strategy is currently in the review stage where the outcomes of the public exhibition are considered for incorporation into the draft before the final strategy is refined and then adopted.