2009 Award Recipients
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 2009 TAGITM EXCELLENCE AWARDS AND INNOVATIVE WEBSITE AWARD

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 31st annual conference in May 2009, the association selected three organizations to receive the coveted TAGITM Excellence Award. New this year, TAGITM chose to recognize an outstanding website with the Innovative Website Award. Finalists were chosen based on not only design, but how well they used this technology to serve and communicate with their audience.


2009 TAGITM Excellence Award Recipients

City of Bryan, Regional Public Safety Data Mapping Project
City of Georgetown, Communications and Technology Building Project
City of Sugarland, Surveillance Camera System to Police Cars Project

2009 TAGITM Innovative Website Award Recipient
Collin County


 City of Bryan: Regional Public Safety Data Mapping Project

This data mapping program was a collaborative effort by governmental entities in the Brazos Valley to provide all available information across organizations to assist Public Safety in their respective regions. GIS web maps were chosen to render a spatial visualization of information, in an interactive, easily accessible format, from many of the database systems in the region. We set forth two goals to accomplish in this collaborative program. First, spatially show Public Safety data relevant to personnel when responding to an incident of information for the area. Second, provide a better quality of life through keeping the public well informed of activities in and around their neighborhood, their property, and most importantly their families. This enhanced citizen awareness enables them in effect to become a force multiplier assisting public safety, essentially becoming more feet on the street.


City of Georgetown: Communications and Technology Building Project

The City of Georgetown designed and constructed a new facility called the Georgetown Communications and Technology (GCAT) center. This facility houses police dispatch operations, emergency operations center (EOC), police training center, and a joint-use, consolidated information technology (IT) datacenter. The EOC serves as a police training room when not is use for EOC purposes. The previous facilities shared common problems that lead to the need to build the GCAT facility. Space was limited with little possibility for expansion; facilities were outdated and not up to specifications necessary for proper operations. This applied to all four operations now located in the GCAT building. The main IT datacenter was being housed in a building that lacked proper fire suppression, physical security, and was in a high-traffic, publicly-accessible location. The total square footage for the old IT datacenters was approximately 450. The new IT datacenter is 1,300 square feet. The previous EOC/training room was housed in an old building that had a history of leaking during heavy rains and had minimal technology infrastructure. The new EOC/training room is more than three times the size and is located in the same facility as the IT datacenter. This eliminates the possibility of losing network connectivity due to a loss in fiber facilities.


City of Sugar Land: Surveillance Camera System to Police Cars Project

In FY 08-09, the City of Sugar Land was approached by the First Colony Management District to provide an increased level of police monitoring of the Sugar Land Town Square and adjoining area. The Police Department approached Information Technology to find a way to tap into existing, private security cameras so that views of these cameras could be seen from police cars as well as in the police dispatch center. The First Colony Management District is managed by Planned Community Developers. This is a 32 acre mixed use development located at the intersection of U.S. 59 and Highway 6. Phase one and two are completed and include a 300-room full-service hotel and conference center, a new 82,000 square foot Sugar Land Town Square City Hall, 167 mid-rise residential condos, 200,000 square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of upscale Main Street retail and restaurants and a 1.4 acre pedestrian plaza.

Last fall, the Management District experienced an increase in the numbers of break-ins of parked automobiles on its property. They wanted to ensure the safety and security of both their customers and their property. They already had a surveillance camera system, comprised of approximately 110 cameras, throughout their properties which were monitored from a central security room in one of the shopping centers. The problem was that when someone noticed an auto break-in or other bad deed, the procedure was to call the Police Dispatch and have a patrol car sent to the area. Because of the time-lag associated with this process, the Police were arriving after the burglary was finished. Turning to the City of Sugar Land, the collective technology resources of the Information Technology Department and the Police Department, researched possible solutions.

As a public private partnership and using the existing surveillance system, the First Colony Management District added DSL lines which allowed access through an IP connection via the Internet and back to the City Hall Computer Room. This allowed all camera views to be accessed via any Internet source with the proper security. The first phase of this project included making over 20 of the cameras available. A video server, running Video Insight software, was placed in the City Hall Computer Room to allow multiple camera feeds from multiple locations to be viewed at multiple secure sites. In 2006, the Sugar Land PD had outfitted all patrol cars with new Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) with Verizon air cards to allow Internet accessibility to the cars. This, added with the camera availability over the Internet, allows officers in patrol cars to set out of site but nearby and view cameras in over 130 locations in the area. Subsequent phases are underway with First Colony, and local Home Owners Associations have contacted the City requesting that cameras be added in their neighborhoods so that they can be monitored by the patrol cars in the coming year. This program was highlighted by Houston in September of 2008.


Collin County Earns Innovative Website Award

The Collin County website was created internally in 1998, with a main page and a link to a department listing for Commissioners Court, Elections, Human Resources, Purchasing and the Sheriff's Office. In November 2001, outside contractors expanded the web site to include all county departments. Then, in January 2003 the website underwent a re-design and expansion, this time internally. Over the last six years, the web Architect and web Developer, assisted by an intern, have worked with various departments and internal programmers to create a dynamic portal offering the public 30 online services, most of which were created internally. The site is integrated with a variety of web offerings created internally including ESRI (interactive) mapping, PeopleSoft (human resources access for employees' time-keeping, benefits selection and online job applications from the outside), and other locally created programs.

The Financial disclosures posted on the website is the first of its kind created and posted by any county in the United States and, currently, the only such county-run site posting of this type in the nation. So unique and important, it found its way to Austin as a Texas House Bill and is being reviewed as legislation to require all counties to create similar sites. To influence legislation with a website is certainly a standout feature. The website also hosts amazing interactive mapping created and maintained by the internal GIS staff. The maps integrate all the best features of Google, MSN and Yahoo mapping with an accuracy that is unmatched by any major service. Only Collin County's website interactive maps will pinpoint an address correctly every time because it takes mapping a step farther by mapping to the parcel, not to the zip+4 location as most major services.

The voter registration lookup and real-time voter results posting and email notification programs are also unique. The court data download is a widely used feature that few others offer to the extent Collin County provides, and has saved the county an immense amount of time and money processing Freedom of Information Act requests by offering the information to the public on the website any time they desire to tap it. Put these and other offerings together and host them, not on a windows or Linux server but a mid-range AS400 computer, and you have a combination for website page speed that is unmatched by any other county. The results are 1.4 million page views a month on average. This after a 40-percent reduction in page views with the court data download implementation and other offerings that are created to keep the site state-of-the-art when it comes to the wealth of information provided.


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