Medway council’s use of Internet kiosk technology to deliver public access requirements
In 2003-2004, 59% of citizens living in Medway were within 15 minutes walking distance of public Internet access to services. Medway Council then entered into a Public Service Agreement with ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) with the objective of increasing that figure to 91% by 31 March 2005.
To deliver that target, Medway Council have deployed 14 Internet kiosks at strategic points in urban and rural areas throughout Medway, easily identified as Medway online kiosks. These kiosks enable citizens to access service information and undertake transactions with the council, and in addition provide online access to local health service, Police and Fire and Rescue Services and links to Government web sites, tourism sites and universities.
Adrian Hipkins states the deployment supports the council’s aim to put the customer at the heart of everything and to make the council as accessible as possible, whilst supporting the more traditional contact methods such as in person, by letter and by telephone.
Some of the services available from the kiosks include Medway’s suite of e-Forms, registering for social housing, access to library accounts and catalogues, and online payments by debit and credit cards. The kiosks are also designed to act as ‘queue-busters’, enabling citizens to undertake transactions or locate information without having to queue. Future services under consideration are access to sports and theatre booking services, together with possible ‘Smartcard’ applications if required.
The kiosks are located in building foyers such as council offices, together with sports centres, country parks and local college campuses. The locations were decided following considerable analysis including both demographic & geographic mapping, social needs, and urban and rural strategies.
All kiosks provide both Touch screen and keyboard & Trackerball functionality and meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. The kiosks are broadband connected, and are monitored and supported remotely. All kiosks had to meet stringent requirements for robustness and security.
The service offered from all kiosks is a ‘walled garden’ service, providing free access for council, Government and community sites, with filtering software in place to prohibit access to unsuitable sites and content.
After almost 1 year of operation, the deployment of the kiosks have been a resounding success, with high levels of use, virtually no down-time and equipment managed & maintained to a high standard.