How Technology Advancements at Peel Region are Creating Easier Access to Resident Services

Today, people expect public services to be accessible digitally, requiring governments to keep pace with modern expectations. As Peel Region celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024, it continues its mission to create a healthy, safe, and connected Community for Life, serving 1.5 million residents and over 200,000 businesses across Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. Peel Region is keenly aware of the evolving needs of its residents and remains committed to meeting citizen demands by modernizing its digital infrastructure. The pandemic accelerated a digital transformation that was many years in the making, but the demand for digital solutions is now here to stay.  

Led by Chief Information Officer, Peter Parsan, Peel Region uses digital solutions and emerging technologies to enhance employee productivity and collaboration across its workforce of over 6,800 employees. As a result, it is transforming service delivery in vital areas such as public health, paramedic services, waste management, and housing support. 

A Focus on Cybersecurity  

Ensuring resident privacy and data security is a top priority for Peel Region, as it possesses and maintains large amounts of sensitive data connected to both personal information of their residents and the infrastructure they operate. Personal information of residents includes medical and health information, eligibility information for social benefits, and employee records. For infrastructure, this includes traffic cameras and water systems. To ensure the security of sensitive data, Peel Region’s IT team has implemented robust security measures, including Microsoft Defender for threat prevention and response and Microsoft Entra ID P2 to manage identities and access across devices. In the last 12 months, Peel Region has detected and prevented more than 10,000 cyber security threats and 18.4 million emails received by Peel Region were unsolicited and blocked by the protection controls.  Microsoft is one of the security solutions that deliver cyber security safeguards to Peel Region.  They use Microsoft technology as part of its Corporate Security Awareness Program to help its employees identify email-based attacks and avoid employees becoming targets of fraud or other types of mail-born threats. 

“Cybersecurity permeates every area of the work we do,” said Parsan. “We prioritize security at every level because it is critical to safeguard our operations and protect sensitive data. Our commitment extends beyond our investment in technology; it’s a fundamental aspect of how we operate. We also foster a culture of vigilance and accountability among our staff, empowering them to be proactive identifying and mitigating potential security risks.” 

Empowering Remote Employees  

There were only two options: do nothing or rise to the challenge. The choice was clear.” – Peter Parsan 

To ensure today’s hybrid and remote work practices are seamless and easy, Peel Region uses Microsoft 365 to better facilitate remote collaboration. By expanding the use of Microsoft technology, including Microsoft 365 and adding Surface Pro devices, Peel Region consolidated all its productivity tools and standardized mobile device management. According to Parsan, this made the shift to remote work seamless, allowing employees across various services to communicate effectively, all within a user-friendly system.  

Recent employee productivity and collaboration data shows that the vast majority of employees (90%) say they understand how to use technology to be productive in their roles and 85% say they are equally or more productive than they were before shifting to remote work.   

“We have to ensure that employees feel comfortable and supported and understand that new technology is going to put them at an advantage,” said Parsan. “The best success story isn’t when tech people talk about how great something is, it’s when end users talk about how much they love what they’re using and the benefits it’s bringing them and that’s exactly what happened with our employees.” 

Making Services More Accessible 

The Digital Peel Program, which aims to digitize a core set of 32 services over the next few years, is another example of Peel Region’s successful implementation of new technology. From the summer of 2023 to the spring of 2024, the Digital Forms project team used modern technologies and digital design best practices to introduce 18 dynamic digital forms to replace outdated webforms and PDF forms. The program is helping residents find important service information online quickly, such as eligibility, fees, how to apply or initiate a service, and contact information. These dynamic digital forms reduce security risks, enable process efficiencies, ensure accessibility, and create a better customer experience. These improvements mark a significant step in Peel Region’s journey toward a digital government.  

Some of the first online services to be digitized were prenatal courses for expecting parents and food handler certifications, both of which have provided residents with greater access and streamlined service delivery. The latest statistics from Peel Region’s Service Experience team show that more than 11,000 people have used the digital forms across various services since their launch, and engagement continues to grow every day. These forms have created the opportunity for residents and businesses to work with Peel Region digitally as an alternative to phone, in-person, and email channels. 

A Culture of Change 

To help encourage the adoption of new technology with employees, Peel Region has implemented a network of “Digital Champions.” There are more than 136 champions within Peel Region that act as technology advocates, helping to share knowledge and updates with their teams.  

Parsan credits a growth mindset among employees for the success of Peel Region’s ongoing digital transformation. 

“One thing that provided me with a great starting point in this process was that every employee at Peel was committed to this journey and their desire to do the best for the public and residents we serve. When you have that commonality of purpose, you have a great foundation to work from.”  

Looking to The Future 

Peel Region’s technological journey doesn’t stop here. Peel is continuing to expand and evolve new technology such as the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to ensure it is ready to meet future demands of its residents and businesses.  Future initiatives also include the development of a data lake, a centralized repository designed to ingest and store substantial amounts of data in its original format, which will allow Peel Region to efficiently process the data for various analytical tasks.  

“We will continue to advance in a thoughtful, planned and purposeful way to evolve the use of emerging technologies such as AI throughout our organization,” said Parsan. “Our north star has always been about what is best for our residents, and we will continue using this as a guiding principle as we move forward as a modern, digital government.”  

Related Posts