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Information services seeks budget increase from city

November 30, 2015 - 4:30 PM

KELOWNA - Information technology is no longer a support service but a full-fledged business unit at City Hall and needs a budget increase to accommodate both current demand and future needs.

That’s the message information services manager Rob Entwistle brought to Kelowna city council during an overview of the city’s digital strategy.

“We are known as the spine or the backbone of the organization. Well, we are a quiet backbone but we don’t intend to be quiet anymore. We are just as important as other infrastructure like roads and sewers,” he said.

Entwistle told councillors he doesn’t have a solid number yet, but he’s anticipating a budget request for a five to seven per cent increase in staff for 2016 plus related costs, mostly to meet current demand from other departments, but also to realize projects that are critical to the ongoing functioning of the city’s IT infrastructure.

He pointed to numbers from other similarly sized communities that showed a range of IT spending; Barrie, Ont. at the top end of the scale spends $10,459 per employee, Kelowna spends $4,343, while Kamloops is somewhere in the middle at $7,200

City councillors didn’t blink at the mention of a budget increase, instead voicing their support for the digital strategy, which will feature first and foremost an enhanced web platform, likely to begin service next spring, but with ongoing development.

“The days are gone when you could build a website and walk away from it for five years,” Entwistle told councillors, describing the city’s website as “one of its busiest facilities” garnering 2.2 million unique visits and 5.5 million page views a year.

He said today’s digital consumer wants what they want, when they want it, using the example of a dad who hears of a great city program from another parent.

“He wants to get on his (smart) phone and register right now. He doesn’t want to have to wait until later, find the website and do it on his computer.”

Entwistle said his department, with the help of an outside consultant, will deliver a flexible web platform that’s “thumb friendly” for mobile devices, the platform he see’s as eventually being the primary delivery vehicle for city services.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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