Delaware County has returned to a Top 10 national ranking for its digital services and is the only county in Ohio to earn the honor in 2016.
The Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute for information technology (IT) policies and practices, has named Delaware County one of the top county governments nationally in its annual Digital Counties Survey competition.
The competition, in existence since 2003, polls county governments across the U.S. and assesses how they apply technology to better serve their constituents. Some of the factors considered include: transparency of operations; social media; cybersecurity; disaster recovery; and budget, cost control and performance measures.
Delaware County competed in the 150,000-to-249,999 population category, one of four categories. The other categories are based on populations of up-to-150,000; 250,000-499,999; and 500,000-or-more.
Delaware County took 9th place this year and was the only Ohio county to win an award in any category this year. In Delaware County’s population category, Arlington County, Va., took 1st place. Other counties in the top 10 included Tammany Parish, La.; Davidson County, N.C.; and the County of Barnstable, Mass.
Previously, the County had placed between 8th and 10th each year from 2004 to 2009.
“I am extremely proud of our Data Center team and our Geographic Information System (GIS) team for this achievement,” said County Auditor George Kaitsa, whose office houses the IT and GIS departments.
“Steve Lewis, our Chief Technology Officer, has been instrumental in building our fiber optic network and working with the Fair Board and Orange Township in sharing IT services,” Kaitsa added. “Rob Parsons, our GIS Director, has been instrumental in developing our GIS system to be a state-of-the-art system as well as in developing mobile applications for use by other county offices and the general public.”
Delaware County’s 911 Center is the first in Ohio to launch “ASAP to PSAP,” a technology that automates communication between alarm companies and 911 centers, resulting in improved accuracy and speed of emergency response.
“Last year, our CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) software vendor, Alert Public Safety Solutions, asked if I was interested in working with them on a pilot project to bring ‘ASAP to PSAP’ into Delaware County,” said Patrick Brandt, director of Delaware County’s Emergency Communications department.
An Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) delivers alarm-notification information from central stations directly to a public safety answering point (PSAP) like a 911 center via computer rather than by phone, eliminating the need for communication between monitoring-center operators and 911 operators.
In Ohio, Brandt explained, the system integrates computer-aided dispatch by utilizing data connection from the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS).
“With the ‘ASAP to PSAP’ implemented, we expect a reduction in the number of calls we receive each year from alarm companies,” Brandt said. “Previously, addresses had to be verified with each alarm company when an alarm went off somewhere. Now addresses will be pre-verified and that will reduce the potential for errors that would delay dispatching help to that address.”
Transmitting data electronically speeds up alarm-notification delivery and reduces the number of phone calls and processing time. It also eliminates human error or miscommunication between operators; all pertinent data goes directly to first responders within seconds.
“Alert Public Safety Solutions is proud to be a partner in providing public safety with the tools needed to reduce stress and handle emergencies quickly and efficiently. The ASAP interface helps in delivering on our commitment,” said Mark Gruber, president of Alert Public Safety Solutions.
Brandt said that because the county was chosen to participate in this pilot project, it paid a reduced cost of $6,000 to implement the new system. He said he also anticipates having this technology will enable his team to improve its efficiency.
Information for this story was provided by Delaware County.