ACOL is transforming the way provincial governments in Atlantic Canada do business with their clients.
ACOL offers electronic access to government databases from your home or office.
You can quickly retrieve, search, update and register information needed for critical decision-making, or for legislative compliance purposes.
Doing business with government has never been easier or more efficient!
Provincial governments in Atlantic Canada, like other jurisdictions, are being challenged to improve service delivery while maintaining and even reducing costs.
ACOL helps meet these challenges by utilizing electronic commerce technology and business solutions, secured through an alliance with the private sector, to enable electronic access by business and citizens to information databases stored and managed by government.
The alliance is based on a multi-year contract signed by the premiers of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island and Unisys Canada Inc. on May 10, 1996 following a competitive procurement.
Unisys is a global information management company providing technology solutions, systems integration, outsourcing services and support to business and public sector clients.
Unisys has committed to investing in the design, development, and management of the ACOL business and technology infrastructure and in return has been granted:
The government’s investment is the information assets that they are making available to ACOL through license agreements, while remaining custodian of the data.
The governments and Unisys share revenues generated through fees paid by clients for access to the databases. Fees are jointly established by Unisys and the database providers, recognizing that there may be statutory, regulatory or provincial government policies that restrict pricing for a specific database.
Government departments or agencies wishing to provide client access to their databases using the ACOL service can take advantage of ACOL's Business Development Program, Information Product Development Services, and Marketing and Communications Services to make this happen!
Proven Technology The ACOL technology has been specifically designed to provide electronic access to government databases for information retrievals; searches; updates; and registrations.
Expertise in Electronic Delivery This technology is combined with solid experience in implementation of on-line services and systems integration capability that can benefit a department/organization in selecting appropriate access channels with a suitable implementation plan.
Preferred Status The ACOL position as the preferred, non-exclusive provider of database access services eliminates the need for government departments to tender for electronic access capability. Because ACOL was established through a competitive procurement process as a preferred supplier, departments can negotiate directly for a customized package of solutions to meet their specific requirements.
The Master/License Agreements and Model Schedules provide a framework for addressing and negotiating many complex issues associated with information management, such as revenue sharing, tax treatment, privacy/confidentiality, intellectual property, and other licensing terms and conditions.
Market Awareness ACOL stays abreast of the needs of governments’ current and future potential business clients through on-going market research and development, including focus groups, surveys, interviews and solicited client feedback.
Research and development A continual R&D effort examining new technologies ensures that governments’ information access is leveraging on the very best technical architecture.
Unique Combination of Expertise ACOL’s marketing and product development expertise, combined with its information technology capability, are a unique service offering in the marketplace.
Prototype Application is available to demonstrate capability and provide concrete documentation of the product development cycle and process. (Example: Personal Property Registry.)
Revenue Generation ACOL can provide new sources of non-tax revenues to departments, by leveraging on their existing investment in information databases.
Market Presence As new applications are developed, ACOL’s market presence and customer base continues to evolve through a focused communications and business development program.
Economic Development Opportunities ACOL can assist in pursuing export opportunities for information technology products and services, in keeping with its mandate to encourage and support economic development in knowledge-based industries.
Private Sector Participation The ACOL team has significant competencies, credibility and market presence which can be leveraged in the ACOL strategic alliance. ACOL is sensitive to governments’ need to add value to their initiatives. The partnership brings its combined capabilities to each business opportunity with a ratio of risk and return that is beneficial to both ACOL and participating departments and database owners.
The ACOL service is developed and deployed using Unisys e-@ction Government Solutions for Electronic Services Delivery. ACOL Utilizes three solution components:
Refer to the Overview for more information.
The ACOL service is designed to play an integral role in all phases of development, implementation and operation of an electronic access and information management system for any database application from concept development to implementation and management.
Immediate access to information is a cornerstone of improved service for public and private institutions. ACOL is the computer gateway connection between government databases and client users. ACOL’s core business function is to provide a regional electronic information access service that the four provincial governments of Atlantic Canada can leverage to:
Client focus Clients of government data the financial and legal community, businesses, citizens, other governments and specialized agencies typically need access to a wide range of statutory and regulated information sources in order to conduct their business.
The scope of client requirements, as indicated by current market research, includes: business registration and licences; permits and applications; justice and courts systems for filings, scheduling and judgments; land and deed registries; assessments and property taxes; personal property registries; municipal taxes; purchasing; access to other governments, within and outside of the region; regulated information sources in the private sector, such as credit agencies, securities registration and information brokers.
Single window of service Accessing information has traditionally been through over-the-counter service at government offices. ACOL enables clients to carry out multiple transactions through a single location.
Multiple access channels The use of personal computers, self-service kiosks and integrated voice response systems has proliferated throughout society. ACOL accommodates multiple access channels with connectivity managed by the service, not the user. Examples:
Multiple government registry connectivity options can be accommodated legacy mainframes, open client/server systems, or a combination of both.
Training Transitioning from a paper-based to an electronic access system means changing the business processes of the major stakeholders government database providers and client users. This requires redefining the roles and responsibilities of information providers. Where previously their functions involved document acceptance and certification, indexing and storing information, their new role involves system monitoring and support. ACOL provides the training and development of new skill sets to facilitate this transition, tailored to the specific needs of the stakeholders.
The ACOL private network ensures security and performance for both database providers and clients. The system is based on a Frame Relay environment standardizing on a TCP/IP protocol.
Clients wishing to complete electronic commerce transactions related to government databases simply connect to the ACOL private network through their Internet provider.
ACOL provides the electronic commerce functionality for the effective execution and management of business transactions delivered electronically via the ACOL network.
Both anonymous and registered users can perform business or citizen transactions through ACOL. For registered users upon client subscription to a selected service, an account with a positive balance is established. The client is informed of the fee to be charged prior to the execution of a transaction and is given an option to proceed. Fees for completed transactions are deducted automatically with full reporting detail given to clients.
The Business Financial Office is the heart of the revenue management and electronic commerce functionality of ACOL. The Business Financial Office provides Billing and Financial Services to both government partners and end user clients in a secure account environment. Fee collection and disbursement services with full financial reporting detail to clients, including the ability to do adjustments and reversals, are key components of the integrated ACOL service.
The Business Financial Office operates in a “real-time” mode. Account activity is updated as billable transactions occur and the client account is debited for the services rendered at the applicable rates.
The Business Financial Office financial system monitors all transactions for integrity and captures the activity in an Oracle Database. All transactions are tracked recording the ACOL client identifier and user ID number incurring the charge for service.
The System’s design allows automatic acceptance of electronic funds transfer and electronic cheque capability. Credit cards may be used to top-up client account balances or as a payment method for numerous transactions.
Clients can review and print their Account Statements at their convenience.
A Lock Box Service is available for clients paying by paper cheque.
The Business Financial Office is responsible for customer demographics and security services administered through a unique client identifier, user ID and password criteria. The Office assists clients in establishing the appropriate access privileges, services and security levels needed for the business function they wish to perform.
The Client Support Centre is the single point of contact for ACOL registered clients, prospective clients and government information providers.
A toll free number has been established to answer client inquiries, managed by professionally-trained client support representatives dedicated to responding in an effective and efficient manner.
Questions can encompass general inquiries about the ACOL service, client account status, database-related government information or technical issues.
Each inquiry is entered into an automated call management system and tracked until satisfactorily concluded.
The Client Support Centre is available Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
ACOL’s business development program has a dual focus:
Understanding the information needs of business/public clients is a continual process of market research using dedicated resources. Market intelligence gathered through surveys, focus groups, interviews with potential clients, and solicited client feedback is used in conceptualizing products and services required by existing and potential clients.
The business development team works with database owners to design and implement products and services delivered at a value that is sensitive to the marketplace.
The ACOL product development team follows a structured approach in identifying and developing new products and services, involving several steps:
Government database providers/owners can participate in this process by:
ACOL provides resources for marketing and promoting its service and information products. Unisys works cooperatively with its partners to promote ACOL throughout government and to identify new database owners, potential client groups, and new value-added information products.
Promotional activities may include:
New service offerings are announced via the ACOL web site, user notices, and specialized promotions.
The ACOL web site is accessible via the Internet using browser software such as Netscape Navigator(TM) or Microsoft Internet Explorer(TM).
ACOL products and services are offered directly to a client’s home or office on a subscription basis.
To subscribe, prospective clients are requested to contact the Client Support Centre via the toll-free number 1-888-624-ACOL(2265) for an Information Kit. The contents of the Information Kit are also available on this web site.
The Kit includes information about the ACOL Service, its product offerings, subscription options and access procedures.
Potential users of the system may select those subscription options that best fit their business needs.
For registered user access to ACOL from a home or office, prospective clients must establish an ACOL account by completing the Client Application and Financial Agreement provided in the Information Kit. These must be returned to the Business Financial Office together with the initial deposit.
The Business Financial Office will mail you a Welcome Package, including everything necessary to commence operations on the ACOL Service.
ACOL is a bilingual service. ACOL Client Support Centre and Business Financial Office services are available in English and French.
Clients may enter their language preference for menu screens and help files by selecting the appropriate option.
Some ACOL products and services may not be available in both English and French. If an on-line service is provided by a database owner in only one language, that language is used regardless of selected language preference.
Convenience a convenient alternative to visiting a government office eliminating time-consuming travel and labour-intensive, paper-based registrations and manual searches.
Efficiency ability to carry out multiple transactions with one single interaction using a single window of service.
Flexibility multiple access channels with connectivity managed by the service.
Choice ability to access multiple databases in one or more provinces across the Atlantic Region.
Seamless access to databases across the region, regardless of the province or source of the information.
User-friendly an easy-to-use Windows-based graphical interface with integrated help, contributing to a quick learning curve for improved productivity.
Administrative efficiencies automated billing, secure electronic funds transfer and revenue management capabilities allowing clients to better focus on serving clients’ needs.
Common look and feel regardless of the information product or source.
One user password and ID providing access to multiple sources of information, eliminating the need, confusion, and risk of managing multiple passwords for different systems.
Availability beyond standard government office business hours.
Accessibility a single contact point for all client information, registrations and assistance via the toll-free, bilingual Client Support Centre.
ACOL system features and functions have been designed to maximize the ease of use and management of client accounts and product information.
Connecting to ACOL
Connection to the ACOL private network is via a direct Internet connection.
Once you are connected to the ACOL network, you can log-on. Log-on establishes a secure communication session between your personal computer (PC) and the ACOL network gateway.
The Log-off option ends your secure communications session with ACOL. The Log-off screen displays a message confirming that you have successfully disconnected from ACOL.
Beginning with ACOL logon, the ACOL Status screen is displayed to inform you of the status of data communications between your PC and ACOL. The ACOL Status screen reports on the operation of a session management package which is included with the ACOL software to perform effective, secure data communications.
Users can view ACOL bulletins by selecting the Bulletins link on the ACOL website. Bulletins include ACOL-general and subscription-specific messages.
Users can view, save, print or delete reports received from ACOL by selecting Retrieve Reports on the ACOL main menu. Retrieve Reports is also available as a button on the toolbar in many application screens. This selection will access reports produced by any ACOL Optional Service. The user has the option to print immediately or save a document to their local or network drive for future retrieval. Some functions may have their own report access features.
Users with administrative authority can reset the password for another user in the same organization by selecting the Change Another User's Password menu item from the ACOL Client Services menu. The password will be reset to the default (predefined) for the organization. A user password cannot be reset if that user is still logged on. The default password for the client account can only be changed by the ACOL Client Support Centre.
Users can change their own password by selecting the Change Password menu item from the ACOL Client Services menu. The system automatically prompts users to change their password periodically.
Submit an Electronic Cheque
Users with cheque signing authority can transfer funds from a bank account to their ACOL account by selecting Electronic Cheque from the ACOL Client Services menu. Transferred funds are applied to the ACOL account immediately. Records of these transactions will appear on the bank statement. A record of the electronic cheque will also appear on the ACOL account statement as a credit. Any number of individuals may be authorized to sign cheques in an organization.
Request an Account Statement
Users with administrative authority can generate a report on ACOL financial and transaction activity by selecting the Account Statement menu item on the ACOL Client Services menu. To specify what financial and transaction activities are to be included in the Account Statement, clients must first enter statement parameters. The parameters available are date range, user ID, and client reference. The client reference pertains to work that may have been performed for a specific account and provided a notation for easy reference. If the user ID field is left blank, the account statement will show all users activity within the organization.
Request Account Status
Administrative users can view account information by selecting the Account Status menu item from the ACOL Client Services menu. Administrative users can also use the Account Status function to update the warning balance amount for the account.
Review and Update User Information
Any user can view their current user information. Administrative users (Prime Contact and Contact) can update user information by selecting the User Information menu item from the ACOL Client Services menu. Administrative users can only update user information for a user with a lower authority level than their own.