New Zealand’s ‘Go hard, go early’ attitude into COVID-19 stay-at-home lockdown challenged all 78 local authorities on a number of fronts, including support for local businesses and communities through a phased re-entry into an economic recession.
Often criticised for moving too slowly, councils are showing they can collaborate and move at an accelerated speed to meet the needs of their respective communities.
Ashburton District Council launched its COVID-19 community hub - a web app for COVID-19 related resources, news, information and alerts - within days of moving into restricted levels of lockdown. Co-developed with neighbouring Timaru District Council, with concept design suggested by Squiz, the app - technically a Progressive Web App (PWA) - was conceived, designed, tested and launched within an impressive two-week window.
The app has since been adopted by a number of other councils in New Zealand, including Gisborne and Mackenzie district councils.
Ashburton didn’t stop there. They followed up with an ‘open for business’ campaign that delivered an intuitive business directory to help rally community support for local businesses. This marketing effort, and business directory tool developed by Squiz, would spark life to a stalled local economy, as the national COVID-19 alert level was downgraded.
“There is no textbook for what we are facing right now,” Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown said, “but our best hope is to continue supporting one another and being united as a community to get our district through this,” he added.
COVID-19 restrictions may continue for a while.
However, Ashburton District Council continues to work innovatively to stay one step ahead and help reduce uncertainty while supporting its community wherever possible, and within government guidelines.
The beauty of Mid Canterbury Open for Business campaign and business directory, is that it will help residents find what’s available in the district, said Mayor Brown.
The benefits are obvious. Not only has Ashburton District Council prepared itself to support their local community, its Economic Development Department is now sharing their knowledge and tools to help other local government organisations succeed.
Both the COVID-19 app and the Community Business Directory were developed on Squiz’s Digital Experience Platform.
● Covid-19 apps - https://covid19.ashburtondc.govt.nz/app, https://covid19.gdc.govt.nz/app, https://mobile.mackenzie.govt.nz/app/_recache
● Ashburton’s community business directory - https://openforbiz.ashburtondc.govt.nz/app