2008 Award Recipients
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2008 TAGITM EXCELLENCE AWARDS AND PRESIDENT'S AWARD FOR MULTI-AGENCY COLLABORATION


The Texas Association of Governmental Information Technology Managers, TAGITM, is an information system's professional organization that provides a forum for generating ideas, sharing problems, and developing solutions. The association's main objective is to enable cities, counties, schools and appraisal districts within Texas to realize the full potential of automation benefits. The association currently has over 200 cities, counties, appraisal districts and school districts as part of their membership program.

During the 30th Anniversary annual conference inJune 2008, the association selected three organizations to receive the coveted TAGITM Excellence Award. In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of TAGITM, the Board of Directors also elected to give special recognition to agencies who have partnered together to leverage technology to improve their organizations. They awarded the first ever TAGITM President's Award for Multi-Agency Collaboration.


 

2008 President's Award for Multi-Agency Collaboration

Digit El Paso Project

2008 TAGITM Excellence Awards
City ofRichardson, Animal Shelter Tech Transformation Project
City ofTemple, City-wide Wireless Backhaul and Data Ring Project
City of College Station, Fire Pre-Incident Planning Project

Scroll down to reach more about these outstanding projects.


 TAGITM President's Award for Multi-Agency Collaboration: Digital El Paso Project

Emerging from the Mayor's "NextGen Cabinet”, a collaborative group began to identify local community needs, recognize technical challenges, and develop a sense of stewardship for effectively planning for the deployment of a broadband infrastructure that could avoid the pitfalls seen by other communities. There was no current plan for the public sector to capitalize and use broadband. The El Paso area was clearly in need of stimulating economic development planning. And, it was recognized that there were gapping needs to fill the digital divide and to provide for social inclusion in their technology world. Hence, three factors were identified and enabled the vision: position El Paso as a leader in broadband strategy, stimulate economic development and achieve social inclusion by providing affordable wireless Internet access to all citizens. The outcome is approximately a 1.5 square mile proof of concept area funded by the City of El Paso, County of El Paso, El Paso Independent School District, and the Housing Authority of El Paso. This collaborative group recognizes that the building blocks for a successful "Digital El Paso” are affordable community-wide Internet access, access to computers, training programs in computer and financial literacy, and relevant local content. These elements have the potential to position our workforce to more effectively compete in the global economy. The group is collaboratively working on specific tasks/projects to support all of these objectives. Ubiquitous wireless Internet access is providing opportunities to insert new mobile technologies into community development, economic development, education, healthcare, social services, homeland security, justice and public safety. By creating a "pilot or proof-of-concept project," an environment was created to identify specific technical challenges, test applications, ascertain community interest, address emerging needs, and have a focused and measured response to all the lessons learned. This comprehensive approach is informing the process of developing an effective business model for further deployment while avoiding the pitfalls experienced by other jurisdictions of similar size. Through lessons-learned, the business case emerging is identifying key applications, such as enhanced automated traffic management, code enforcement and permitting that will use wireless mobility to increase government productivity, enhance and improve service delivery, provide greater transparency to citizens, and make government more efficient and provide free or low cost Internet access in municipal and public spaces and underserved areas. A major benefit of this project has been the level of collaborative interest generated throughout the community. The collaborative project team comes together to address community needs without institutional agendas. It is a productive merging of public and private interests. There is a free flow of ideas and solutions to truly address community needs without the need for idea ownership. The sharing of knowledge and information is spilling over into other collaborative initiatives including a venture for a major fiber optic construction project. The collaborative energy has allowed the community to address the "Digital Divide” through a focus on "digital/social inclusion.” This focus brought in the educational community and the financial community, as well as an emphasis on job training and "going green” through the recycling of old computers.

(From left to right) Rick Moore, President TAGITM; Dale Harwell, Past-President TAGITM; Gerald Cichon,
Exec. Dir., Housing Authority of the City of El Paso; Jesus Quiñonez, Exec. Dir., Centro Familiar Salud La Fe;
Fabie Rubio, VP of Information Technology, CIO, El Paso Community College; Stephen Stiles, CIO El Paso ISD;
Gary Gordier, CIO & Director of IT, City of El Paso


 City of Richardson: Animal Shelter Tech Transformation Project

 

The City of Richardson Animal Shelter has undergone a technological transformation within the last year focused on better services for our citizens and improved efficiency for our operations. From our trucks to our kennels to our front desk, we have moved from manual and paper-based processes to a near-paperless, interactive and highly efficient environment. We've enhanced our web site with the latest Google map technology to geographically display locations of lost and found animals, including pictures of animals uploaded by citizens. As a citizen reports a lost or found animal, they are presented with a standard web form plus a Google map with an outline of the City of Richardson. As they enter the location, it places a marker on the Richardson map. That place is then used on our overview page to show all lost or found animals in the city, making it easy for our citizens to quickly scan their neighborhood to look for a possible match. The days of the wipeon/wipeoff board to list a few cryptic notes about adoptable animals in our kennels are over. We now have interactive touchscreen monitors mounted at the end of each kennel row with pictures and full details about each animal. Because the information comes directly from our internally-developed shelter software, the information is updated immediately as animals are entered into the electronic impound listing at the front desk. Signature tablets and driver's license swipe readers allow much-improved customer service at our front desk and save paper. Inexpensive and added into our home-grown software by our IS staff, these two additions speed up interaction with our citizens. When creating new owner records, we now swipe the DL to fill in the citizen's name, address and DL information automatically. This speeds data entry and improves accuracy. We previously had to print two copies of receipts and have the citizen sign both, one for them and one for our paper file. The signature tablets, which capture a digital signature and place it directly onto several record types in our shelter software, allow us to print only one copy for the citizen and keep the main record in electronic form only, saving both paper and space. To improve field communication and response time, Toughbook laptops were mounted in our trucks. An AJAX-based web dispatch system runs on the computer's touchscreen monitors, allowing field workers to claim and resolve animal issues in the field as well as track truck mileage. In the past, a worker would pull to the side of the road and take notes while listening to a handheld radio to get an assignment. Now the computer gives a ringtone and the new assignment appears immediately on-screen after a dispatch is entered back at the shelter. All the field workers get notified and can claim and resolve an issue in the field simply by pressing buttons on the touchscreen of the Toughbook. Their actions update the shelter software to give a real-time issue status to shelter employees. Shelter staff can also see worker availability through a signin/out process the drivers select in the truck. And, instead of coming back in at the end of the shift to fill out paper logs on daily calls, these electronic dispatches now become the daily reports of field-worker activity. Each of these modifications have either improved customer service, saved resources through electronic storage and reporting, improved our operational efficiency, or enhanced communication among our staff.


 

City of Temple: City-wide Wireless Backhaul and Data Ring Project

When the city, in its continuing technology push, started planning an initiative to deploy a converged, high-speed voice, data and video infrastructure, it quickly became obvious that the existing patchwork of bandwidth-constrained connectivity solutions was incapable of supporting such a migration. The plan sought a cost-effective way to scale its network to gain sufficient bandwidth to deliver existing voice, data and video on one network to all 32 locations across the city with capacity to accommodate future applications and services such as Video Surveillance, Public Safety and SCADA. The City's IT staff began exploring other options for its network upgrade by reviewing a litany of network access and backhaul technologies for connecting its dispersed city-wide locations and transporting traffic over a high-speed backbone network. While some of the city's buildings were located in close proximity, others were miles apart and located in rural areas. Further pursuing its options, the IT team determined that 10 water towers that formed a ring around the city would provide an excellent line-of-sight solution for reaching most locations. In designing the new network, a high-capacity backbone was recommended, incorporating seven BridgeWave gigabit-upgradeable FE80U wireless links with a 5.8 GHz mesh access system. BridgeWave's FE80U point-to-point wireless links provide full-rate 100 Mbps backhaul capacity with software-key field upgradeability to full gigabit Ethernet capacity in order to support emerging public safety, SCADA, video surveillance and disaster recovery applications. The objectives included: launch Backhaul for public safety and SCADA network, remove bottlenecks in existing network, connect 22 city facilities to the wireless network and build a scalable infrastructure on which to enhance. In October 2007, the city of Temple completed its high-speed, wireless network upgrade to meet current requirements while creating seemingly endless possibilities for the future. The self-healing network aggregates and backhauls traffic over a mesh-ring topology with built-in redundancy for maximum service availability.


 

City of College Station: Fire Pre-Incident Planning Project

The City of College Station has created a mapping program for addressing some of the information needs of our Fire Department when responding to emergencies. Fire Pre-Incident Planning consists of having various features of commercial buildings already available on a map. First responders show up with full knowledge of the locations of the water, gas, and electrical shutoffs, entry and exit points, elevators and stairs, contact information for occupants and owners any special hazards, and many other vital pieces of information. The map data is gathered pre-incident by firefighters, allowing them to get a firsthand look at the inside of a building. They survey the building, then enter the information on a mapping tablet on top of an existing building and street map of the city. Every item is symbolized at it's approximate location. Later, data is downloaded to the GIS servers, then processed to be added to the map found in every first responder's mobile data terminal (MDT). When police, fire, or emergency medical service staff arrive at the scene of an emergency, they already know the whole layout of the building: How to make the building safe for entry, how to get in, the hazards inside, and how to get out.


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