New Zealand’s largest inland city, Hamilton (Kirikiriroa in Te Reo Māori) can be found right in the centre of one of the richest agricultural and pastoral areas in the world. Flowing alongside the Waikato River, the city is kept running by Hamilton City Council—a complex organisation that comprises 27 diverse operational business units, each with a unique fingerprint.
Maintaining the vast range of civic infrastructures that the city has to offer is a big task, but the City Council that never sleeps is driven to create the perfect place to live or visit: “It's about the community, and that's why I love it”, says Shayla Whaiapu, the Operations Manager of Hamilton’s popular Waterworld aquatics centre. “I love doing what I do every day. I love hearing people laughing and smiling.”
A place is its people, and people are at the centre of Hamilton City Council’s activities. Not only does the Council deliver big city life essentials—roads and water works, parks, playgrounds, walking paths, and arts and culture institutions—to locals and visitors alike, but it offers funding to local community organisations and supports migrants and new arrivals to make the city their home.
This range of activities is why Council Safety & Wellbeing Lead Marie Snowball describes the Council as a “really diverse organisation”, telling her team “you'll never work for an organisation like it.” But with this range comes a unique set of pressures.
Hamilton City Council was in need of a safety management system that could meet vastly differing requirements from team to team in each of their unique environments. As People, Safety & Wellbeing Manager Dan Finn puts it, “The work varies considerably, and therefore the risk and the safety exposure is varied as well.”
In such a fast-paced environment, it becomes important to nip close-calls in the bud. “I always say to the boys, at the end of day, near-misses happen, but those are the things that, if we don't report them, become our accidents”, Lead Groundperson of Seddon Park Phillip Hall, who is also a Health & Safety Representative, notes.
ecoPortal became immensely appealing as a flexible platform that empowers the Council team to manage all kinds of risk management factors—not just health & safety but financial risk, climate risk, and cyber-security risk, too. While comprehensive, ecoPortal successfully stays user-friendly, increasing the 900-strong Council staff’s ability to make their reports a natural part of their daily workflow.
With ecoPortal, Hamilton City Council’s safety system can smoothly navigate everything that big city life throws at it. “The accuracy, the functionality, and the insights that we are able to mine through ecoPortal—it's critically important”, Finn remarks.
Of particular value to the council is the range of templates available to different business units: “We currently have a template that helps us check the key assets that are needed to keep these pools looking as good as they look right now”, notes Whaiapu.
“It gives us really good triggers to know when something's out. Instead of somebody having to manually look through records, it automatically does it for you”, she adds.
Another feature of ecoPortal that makes the Hamilton City Council team members’ lives easier is its dashboards, which Snowball describes as “second to none.”
This immediate access to the trends occurring in real-time enables the team to keep their finger on the pulse, sharing important information about current operations’ statuses and giving critical context to decisions that need to be made in a New York minute.
It also illustrates the efficacy of the system on its people’s engagement: “It gives us assurance that we're actually supporting our people—they can be proactive and we've empowered them to do so”, Snowball shares.
A particularly exciting feature of ecoPortal for the Hamilton City Council team is the mobile app. With sites scattered all across the city, including locations in which reception is not a guarantee, a patchy signal no longer means a report risks getting lost between the cracks—reports submitted offline sync automatically on the health and safety app when back in range of the internet.
In-office team members can also engage with the health & safety system on desktop, and a number of sites access the system through tablets, too.
The flexibility surrounding the platform’s accessibility means that staff can report a near-miss or incident on-the spot, rather than, as Parking Compliance Supervisor William Tarawhiti puts it, having to “come all the way back to the office, forget a majority of what has occurred, and then miss some parts of the incident.”
Finn notes that this ease-of-use has caused a “culture shift through improved reporting.” Whether on-the-go or in-office, for the pools or the parks, ecoPortal works with Hamilton City Council to build a safer city for all.