Transforming Halton Region Into a Digital-First Municipality

December 12, 2023 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by DeGroote School of Business

Gino Alborino, a DeGroote EMBA graduate and Halton Region’s Director of Digital Services and Data Management has been recognized with the 2023 Digital Disruptor Award at the IT World Canada (ITWC) Digital Transformation Awards.

While COVID-19 was a catalyst for accelerated digital transformation for Halton Region, Alborino and his team are applying a digital-first lens to reimagine how a regional government delivers services into the future.


COVID-19 Success Story in Digital Transformation at Halton Region

Before COVID-19, Halton offered information through its website and limited options for residents to request service. Throughout the pandemic, Alborino led the Business Transformation team, which enabled Halton employees to work safely from home. They developed a case and contact tracing system for COVID-19, and most notably, created and maintained Halton’s Vaccine Appointment Booking System (VABS).

“We built Halton’s VABS to meet the needs of our community,” says Alborino. “In just 10 days, we developed a user-friendly system that offered the most vulnerable residents in the community the opportunity to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. We continued to develop and evolve the tool in response to provincial direction, methodically releasing new iterations as more cohorts became eligible for vaccines. The system ran flawlessly. We never saw a system outage, we were able to manage supply and demand, and patients could stay safe through planned physical distancing and short wait times.”


Advancing Halton’s Digital-First Vision and Strategy

“Coming out of COVID-19, it was obvious just how much customers’ preferences have changed,” says Alborino, who has worked at Halton Region for over 25 years. “Residents want to access services when convenient for them, creating an opportunity for digital to augment service delivery beyond core hours. So, we’re developing a hub where residents can log in 24/7 and do everything from scheduling an appointment for a clinic to applying for subsidies to reporting missed waste pickup. This work is about creating access to our services.”

Alborino knew that accelerating delivery transformation meant involving a range of decision-makers to identify the region’s digital-first vision and remove barriers. Halton developed numerous steering committees responsible for advancing the organization’s digital strategy.

“Democratizing information technology was a big success factor,” says Alborino. “It allowed us to examine the organization’s priorities to determine where we should invest strategically. It’s about driving digital solutions through vision and strategy with members of steering committees across the organization becoming champions for change.”

Halton Region is now working to digitize 125 resident-facing and 50 internal services by 2026.

By applying agile methodology, Halton can quickly build digital interfaces and services that better serve residents and other community partners. For example, earlier this year, Halton Region launched an online portal for land developers to work with consultants and engineers on development applications to accelerate housing developments. Traditionally, such a service would take about eight months to design, build and launch. Halton launched the portal in six weeks using the same approach it used for its appointment system. That portal is now serving as the model for the hub that will house the 125 digital services on which Alborino and his team are working.


Community Recognition and Personal Growth

Alborino was nominated for the 2023 Digital Disruptor Award by Gartner Canada.

“Gartner hadn’t seen this type of digital acceleration in any public service in Canada and wanted to highlight it,” he says. “The Halton team has done fantastic work, and we’re excited that IT World Canada has recognized us. Being recipients of awards like this motivates me and the team to continue to drive innovation and disrupt service delivery in government.”

In fact, those same motivations led Alborino to enroll in DeGroote’s Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program, which focuses on leadership in digital transformation. The decision, he says, allowed him to build on his leadership experience towards a more responsive and agile approach to transforming the way Halton does business and delivers services.

“There have been so many a-ha moments for me,” says Alborino of his EMBA experience. “Coming from a traditional organization like government, I really enjoyed the parts of the program that examined start-ups, which must work with limited resources and show progress quickly. I also learned a lot from my peers in my cohort, who came from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. It’s interesting to discover ways to apply completely new concepts to how we respond to changes and move forward in becoming one of Ontario’s most progressive organizations.”

2 thoughts on "Transforming Halton Region Into a Digital-First Municipality"

  1. Michelle Farah says:

    I am interested in speaking to someone about this program.

    1. Caitlin Costello says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for getting in touch. If you’re interested in learning more about DeGroote’s Executive MBA program, we invite you to visit our program website.

      Please submit your inquiry through the contact form and someone from our team will be in touch.

      Take care,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comment Policy

We generally welcome discussion on our blog posts. However, we reserve the right to edit or delete comments in certain situations:

  • Comments which include unrelated or suspicious links or messages (spam).
  • Comments which are off topic.
  • Comments which attack or threaten individuals or a group of people.
  • Comments which include profanity or messages that would generally be considered offensive or inappropriate by the McMaster community.

This site is moderated by the DeGroote Marketing and Community Engagement team. If you have any questions please email Katie Almas.