How can technology be used to improve access to essential services for Australians living in one of the remote areas in the country?
This was the challenge we faced when contracted by the Northern Territory Council of Social Services (NTCOSS) to build an online directory of social and community services.
In December 2017, NTCOSS launched a website that included a small directory of social service organisations. Over three years, the original NTCOSS Social Services Directory provided a valuable referral pathway for not-for-profit organisations and medical professionals, helping more than 73,000 Territorians find the organisations and support they needed.
However, the creation of a stand-alone directory was always part of the larger vision to service the needs of the Northern Territory community. After securing funding from the Northern Territory Government, NTCOSS contracted us to develop this directory with a human-centred development approach.
We worked with the NTCOSS to bring this new directory to life in a way that reflected the Territory spirit and was easy to understand for a range of users.
To deliver the best user experience and engagement, extensive consultation was undertaken to understand how people would be most likely to use the site to find the right service providers. Rather than Territorians trying to find the right organisation to access the service they needed, the model was switched around to focus the search on the outcome people were looking for.
Officially launching 26 March 2021, the new NTcommunity Service Directory provides access to more than 215 community organisations offering 440 services across 380+ locations throughout the NT. The directory has its own dedicated brand, NTcommunity, and is available on the website and on mobile apps. It is updated with new organisations and services as they become available.
"It is the first ever one-stop shop for Territory support services which, when coupled with the app, works both on and offline."
Deborah Di Natale, CEO of NTCOSS
Deborah continues, “Whether you are looking for housing support, children and families services, education, financial advice or mental health care, NTcommunity will let you know who can help. We commend the NT Government for working with the community services sector to realise this vision for a comprehensive, evolving community directory.“
Importantly, the mobile app, developed in conjunction with Australian app developers Appliquette, is available offline. This gives Territorians instant access to current government, non-government and community group information, even in remote locations where internet connection or bandwidth may be limited. The app is available on all Android and Apple phones and tablets from their respective app stores.
“We are really proud to launch NTcommunity. This has been a labour of love for our whole team, working from the start to develop the concept, branding, developing the site and bringing the platform to life. We’re thankful to NTCOSS and the NT Government for giving us the opportunity to provide this platform for the good of all Territorians, and look forward to seeing how it will develop.” said our very own CEO, Ryan Jones.
The new NTcommunity directory was soft-launched in December 2020 as part of a user-testing phase. During that time, more than 1,000 people accessed the site to find much-needed services across the critical Christmas and school holiday periods. The site now moves into a user-feedback phase, where we will work closely with the Appliquette team to look at how to further improve the platform based on feedback and ensure the future success of NTcommunity.