Brisbane City Council

This case study highlights the benefits Brisbane City Council and the business community gains in transitioning from its existing paper-based application forms to online forms. The online forms were developed using the our SmartForms Service in partnership with the Queensland Government Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games.

Case study from: SmartForms


Brisbane City Council started using the SmartForms Service in December 2012 to implement more efficient service delivery for business customers and make it easier for business customers to deal with Council. As at 30 June 2015, Brisbane City Council had 40 transactions live on the SmartForms platform. These applications cover areas such as:

  • event permits
  • venue permits
  • filming permits
  • rates
  • mall permits
  • parks permits
  • protected vegetation
  • siting variations
  • work on council property
  • advertising signs licensing
  • food business licensing
  • development assessment.

Submissions using Brisbane City Council’s SmartForms have increased from 1,126 in 2013-14 to 7,053 in 2014-15.

The SmartForms Service

Our SmartForms Service assists federal, state, territory and local government agencies to make their forms available online. The Queensland Government Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games assists local and state government agencies to access and implement SmartForms.

The SmartForms Service is hosted on a secure Government Cloud. It allows agencies to collect data electronically and then transfer this data automatically into the agency’s business systems to complete processing. Approximately 80 state, territory and local Government agencies are already realising the benefits of using SmartForms for grant applications, licence applications, permit applications, secure payments, contact and enquiry forms, and surveys. By using the SmartForms Service, agencies can reduce the regulatory burden on businesses by simplifying their use of government forms. For more information and contact details refer to our SmartForms section.

The benefit

Moving application forms online helps Brisbane City Council meet customer expectations for effective digital services and has resulted in benefits in three key areas.

Saving customers time/money

Brisbane City Council uses SmartForms to save customers time by reducing the total number of different application forms required to start a food business. A café that has footpath dining and also provides catering previously would have needed to make four separate applications (food design, food licence, footpath dining, food safety program) and two additional contacts (agreement to display Eat Safe rating and nominate Food Safety Supervisor) before starting business. That can now all be done in one SmartForm – the Application for Food Business Approvals.

Brisbane City Council uses SmartForms to save customers money by providing self-assessable permits where appropriate. The Self Assessable (School Based) Event Permit allows schools/P&C associations to receive an immediate permit for their fete/festival online for a fee of $77.00. Previously, customers would have needed to pay at least $1,380 for an Entertainment Events Permit which had to be manually assessed by an officer.

Reducing avoidable contacts

The need to re-contact customers for further information/supporting documents for their application is much reduced. For Work on Council property applications, previously customers would complete the hard copy form, scan it and email it in. Then the Council officer would need to contact the customer to organise a credit card authorisation form to process the payment manually. More often than not, Council officers would also have to follow-up with the customer to submit the necessary plans. SmartForm applications are complete with the payment made, and the necessary plans attached.

Meeting Council’s accessibility guidelines

SmartForms replaced PDF forms that some customers had problems opening, due to variable performance in certain browsers and versions of Reader. The SmartForms are HTML5 responsive design and meet Council’s Accessibility Guidelines.