Address verification tech boosts government efficiency

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Within Australia, there are approximately 60,000 addresses created every three months. Keeping on top of this constantly changing environment can be challenging for many government departments. For the ACT Government’s environment and planning department, it’s essential that development applications have the correct address information. When entering an address in an online form, small inaccuracies can result in hours of wasted time and effort.

Vladislav Munteanu, Customer Experience and Design Operations Manager for the ACT Government, explains that when address data is wrong, it costs workers time. Take the example of ‘Fix My Street’; if someone enters the wrong address when reporting an issue or requesting a service, it can trigger a chain of consequences.

“Instead of taking 30 minutes to go to the place and find an issue, it could take maintenance crew several days. It means additional work for the contact centre, as well as for the teams who need to identify if it’s a new or a duplicate job,” Munteanu said.

This delay could result in dissatisfied customers and further calls to the contact centre. This prompted the ACT Government to explore options for an address verification solution, as its systems were all using different address formats, which presented a challenge when sharing information across systems. To fix it, the ACT Government built address verification APIs into its online forms. Address matches are suggested as people type, meaning customers don’t need to complete the full address. They simply choose from the ‘Do you mean this address?’ suggestions. Munteanu added that the technical aspects of the solution are easy to develop.

“We use Geoscape APIs inside five or six systems, and all these systems use slightly different technology. Deploying into the system takes less than one day — that’s very quick,” Munteanu said.

Having multiple departments all using the same solutions enables the government to access address information in a consistent formation, thereby improving its internal processes.

“Now we have a consistent address format across multiple government systems, we’re not wasting resources and time to convert it from one format to another. A lot of our systems are now speaking the same language,” Munteanu said.

Munteanu added that the way the development applications were asking for address information was causing inaccuracies that customer service officers were having to fix manually. Prior to using Geoscape APIs, customers would have to use a large map and try to identify their block and section. Following the implementation of Geoscape APIs, customers only need to type their physical address, with Geoscape’s address verification supplying the block and section automatically.

“This was the first time we’ve ever been able to retrieve that information straight away for a physical address. It’s completely removed that manual effort for the customers and for our customer service officers as well,” Munteanu said.

Before implementing the APIs, the ACT Government tried other address verification services, but found they weren’t updating frequently enough.

“We had huge delays with other providers — sometimes it took up to a year to get new suburb data. With Geoscape we’re getting information that’s not older than 24 hours. It’s extremely good,” Munteanu said.

Alongside being used in customer-facing forms, address validation services are also used by the ACT Government’s customer service centres, to help provide a better, more efficient customer experience. The inter-departmental integration has also saved money, as the ACT Government is not paying for, and managing, multiple systems.

“Our previous solution was using quite a lot of resources. We had to pay for the service, for the infrastructure, as well as for people to manage and update the information. Now we just connect to a ready-made solution and we’re getting a perfect outcome. We’re saving a lot of money,” Munteanu said.

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