The New South Wales Food Authority (NSWFA) is the state government agency responsible for ensuring food sold in the state is safe and correctly labelled and that consumers are able to make informed choices about the food they eat.
The Authority provides a single point of contact on food safety and regulation for industry, local government and consumers..
As a through-chain food regulatory agency it comprehensively regulates and monitors food safety – from primary production through to point-of-sale.
Every year the Authority deals with over 14,000 licensed food businesses. It handles in excess of 12,000 audits and inspections, assessing businesses for compliance against 78 different license requirements. Its staff respond to more than 2,000 complaints annually.
NSWFA employs a team of 50 dedicated field workers who spend the majority of their days travelling the state, conducting inspections, investigating complaints and ensuring compliance with food regulations and food acts. Until recently, a typical week would see these staff spending three days in the field, conducting visits, discussing food safety requirements and inspecting premises. At each stop staff would sort their way through up to 300 forms and checklists as they documented their findings and noted any necessary follow-up actions.
The process was thorough but it involved a great deal of duplication. While in the office, staff would print out information relating to the businesses they planned to see in the days ahead. After the site visits, they would have to wait until they were next in the office to enter the information into the organisation’s information systems.
Debbie Brookfield, NSWFA Business Systems Manager says, “For nine years we wanted to find a way to help field staff become more efficient and to get them out from behind the desk, but the technology wasn’t really there to enable us to do it affordably.”
In 2012, Brookfield attended a mobility conference where she heard the CIO of Logan City Council describe his experiences developing a BlinkMobile field access solution for, among other things, restaurant inspections. The experience was a revelation. “The presentation opened our eyes to the fact there were now options in the marketplace that could deliver what we needed,” she notes.