Registered Foresters and Forestry Companies submit pre-approval applications to the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food seeking approval to plant forestry throughout the country.
Until the inception of this project, applications had to be submitted on paper application forms with maps outlining the proposed areas for planting and supporting documentation. The details were data captured on the Departmentâ€™s IFORIS (Integrated FORestry Information System) system and the proposed areas to be planted were digitally mapped.
IFORIS Internet is an extension of IFORIS and was designed to provide a range of online services to the Registered Foresters and Forestry Companies.
The IFORIS Internet system is available 24/7 and has provided an improved customer experience for the forestry companies. Pre-approval applications can be submitted at any time and Foresters can track the status of applications submitted on behalf of their clients whereas previously they could only contact the Department during business hours.
Phase one provided for the
- Integration of the Forest Industry Mapping System application to use the Single Sign-On (SSO) secure access system.
- Provision of online access to the customer base for the purpose of tracking the status of forestry applications.
Phase two provided for the
- Full submission of Forestry Pre-approval applications online including the digitising of the forestry plots.
Full integration of the Forest Industry Mapping System into the Forestry Internet system.
The project was initiated to improve the quality of service provided for forestry companies and to enhance the accuracy, completeness and efficiency of the planting and payment application processes. IFORIS was originally one of the Governmentâ€™s Information Society projects, but the planned online element was dependent on having IFORIS, an internal GIS-based administrative system, fully operational in the first instance.
Description of target users and groups
IFORIS Internet provides an on-line facility for Registered Foresters, on behalf of their clients to create and submit forestry pre-approval applications online.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
IFORIS Internet provides an on-line facility for Registered Foresters, on behalf of their clients; to create and submit forestry pre-approval applications online. The Registered Forester can view the Departmentâ€™s spatial dataset and overlay the boundaries of their plantation using a range of tools for drawing and manipulating spatial line work. More importantly, the system provides on-line access to a range of environmental datasets and colour ortho-photography for the entire country.
This access provides a graphic representation of environmentally or silvicultural sensitive areas such as Special Areas of Conservation, Acid and Fisheries Sensitive zones as well as National Parks and Monuments.Â This greatly aids the decision making process for potential applicants as approval for the planting of forests may be prohibited or more difficult to obtain in these areas. Using IFORIS Internet the Registered Forester can identify less contentious areas and move their proposed plantation boundaries accordingly prior to submitting their application.
The full pre-approval application is submitted on-line and is validated, eliminating the errors that were encountered with the paper based applications. The digitising of the proposed areas on the online application has reduced the requirement of the Department to provide the digitization service and has speeded up the processing of the applications.Â This ensures a faster approval process for the applicant and an increased probability of approval.
Technology solutionTechnology choice: Standards-based technology
Main results, benefits and impacts
Internal benefits for the Department:
- Reduction in the number of paper based applications.
- Reduction in the amount of documents to be scanned.
- Requirement to send pre-approval maps for internal digitisation removed.
- Reduction in level of data entry.
- Reduction in number of letters to be issued seeking clarification or for missing information.
- Reduction in errors and issues as applications will be validated as part of the on-line application process.
- The streamlining of the application process has led to reductions in processing times.
- Referrals letters to external bodies are issued earlier.
- No of queries reduced by provision of online file tracking.
External benefits to Department Customers:
- Improvement of the service available to the Forestry Companies.
- Reduction in level of forms/paperwork to be completed.
- Validation of the application on-line will reduce the number of invalid applications submitted.
- System identifies information gaps and prohibit submission of application until all required information has been entered.
- File tracking - no need to ring or write to the Department.
- Workflow improved as digitization process for pre-approval on-line applications will be made redundant (saving 3 to 5 days).
- No requirement for digitisation so area submitted will be accepted for pre-approval processing.
- Approved Foresters can print copies of applications submitted.
- Reduction in postal costs and risk that application could be lost in postal system.
- 24/7 access to on-line information and processing.
Â See full submission document attached for more details.
Track record of sharing
Information and updates on this project are regularly given to Panta Rhei, which is an EU wide body of Agriculture Paying Agencies that meets twice annually.Â
Importance of consulting end-users at the outset of the project. One of the most valuable lessons learned was that the time spent meeting the end-users at the analysis stage greatly reduced the number of changes needed during the development of the system. The fact that the end users were involved from the out-set ensured that they had an active role in making the the project a success.
Importance of having a good test plan. A considerable effort was put into planning the testing of the system. As the system had to fully integrate to the in-house IFORIS system, it was vital that there were no glitches from the date it went into operation. The effort put in at this stage paid dividends with the online applications submitted fitting seamlessly into the in-house processing of applications.
Importance of providing training to the end users of the system. Training was provided for the end users and this ensured that the users did not get frustrated trying to use the system. If the users are not trained properly from the start and they stop using the system it is difficult to try and get them to re-engage. The first experience using the system should be a positive experience and word of mouth on the positive aspects of the system id the best form of promotion.Scope: Cross-border, National, Regional (sub-national)