Kathy Welsh

Kathy Welsh

Poughkeepsie, NY – This year’s Digital Counties Survey has once again ranked Dutchess County Government 2nd in the nation for its use of information and communications technology, for counties with population size between 250,000—499,999. The annual survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), recognizes the nation’s best examples of technology use to improve services and boost efficiencies to better serve residents. Dutchess County is only one of two counties in the country to consistently rank in the nation’s top ten for each of the past 12 years.

From L to R: Arlington Fire District Chief Tory Gallante, Arlington Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Jim Beretta, County Clerk Brad Kendall, County Executive Marc Molinaro, Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison, City of Beacon Mayor Randy Casale, Dutchess County Legislator April Farley, Town of Dover Supervisor Ryan Courtien, Town of LaGrange Councilman Ed Jessup. Seated: Office of Information and Central Services Commissioner Tim Mahler and Town of Dover Information Security Officer Rosalind Cimino. Courtesy photo

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “Dutchess County is continuing to develop new and innovative ways to share information with the public using a variety of communication outlets, including email, social media and website applications. We are grateful for the continued recognition for our efforts as we strive to advance our shared services collaborations with our municipal partners and enhance communications to our residents.”

“Counties across the country are harnessing technology to enhance services, maximize efficiency and save money,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The Digital Counties Survey recognizes county innovation that strengthens communities and builds a stronger America.”

The county’s award winning survey submission highlighted a number of the citizen engagement initiatives and cost saving measures instituted by the Office of Central & Information Services which have streamlined access to information and resources important to residents.

Among the citizen engagement efforts highlighted in the county’s submission:

  • Social Media – Dutchess County Government is active on FacebookTwitter and YouTube to inform and engage residents quickly and easily. Additionally, the county’s Office of Emergency Management has been a useful resource for inclement weather advisories and updates.
  • Dutchess Delivery – Allows residents to subscribe to more than 60 topics of broad ranging topics. Updates are automatically distributed to subscribers via email or in some instances text message.
  • ParcelAccess – Enhanced in 2014 with new features that appeal to a broader audience, the public is provided with a wide variety of property data from numerous sources in one online portal, allowing users to conduct address searches, estimate taxes, create maps, measure specific areas, and more. ParcelAccess is the county’s most utilized public web application, serving more than 6 million pages to users in 2014.
  • Enterprise Content Management (ECM) – This multi-year initiative is transforming Dutchess County from a paper based document environment to one of the few county governments to have a true digital document management environment. As part of this initiative, the county will provide public access to a broad range of county documents and historical records using an online web portal. The first application to be rolled out for the public portal is the Legislative Records Search.

Additionally, the survey submission provided an overview of the county’s continuing efforts to promote shared services to reduce the cost of government and increase efficiencies, through PC/server tech services, network services, website and software development, and IT consulting. A number of local municipalities and government entities, including the Arlington Fire District and the towns of Dover and LaGrange, partnered with the Office of Central and Information Services (OCIS) to streamline IT services and deliver information to residents faster and more effectively.

“Last year we partnered with the City of Beacon to develop a newly designed municipal website resulting in streamlined access to information and services. We are thrilled to be able to partner with the towns of Dover and LaGrange and the Arlington Fire District to provide services to their residents more efficiently and at a reduced cost. We look forward to greater shared partnerships in the future,” said OCIS Commissioner Tim Mahler.

As part of the shared services partnership with the Arlington Fire District (AFD), OCIS will host the AFD’s equipment and servers, provide onsite support services, and redevelop their website. Under the 5-year agreement, OCIS will begin the transition of infrastructure and website redevelopment this year, with plans for a complete takeover beginning January 1, 2016. The agreement will provide AFD taxpayers with an estimated $20,000 annual savings.

“We are encouraged by our partnership with the county to deliver IT services with expected stability and efficiency, from which we project will save our taxpayers money now and in the future. We look forward to the development and launch of a newly designed website to be able to deliver up-to-date and easily accessible information and services to fire district members and the public,” said Arlington Fire District Board Chairman James Beretta.

Key features of the Arlington Fire District shared services agreement include:

  • Multi-year agreement with the county that provides Arlington Fire District taxpayers with an estimated $20,000 annual savings, compared to current expenses;
  • Hosted infrastructure at the Office of Central and Information Services secure Computer Center, eliminating the need for the Arlington Fire District to replace aging servers and network internet equipment;
  • On-site operational support;
  • Strategic planning services;
  • Support at all four fire stations;
  • An enhanced website;
  • A “Members Only” website component;
  • Other IT services as needed to improve operations.

The Town of Dover is engaged in a 3-year shared services agreement which allows the town to choose from a variety of county IT services, including PC support, networking, software development, IT consulting and needs assessments. Through the agreement, Dover can still use its own IT staff for basic operational support, however, they also have the option to consult with OCIS on advanced projects, such as networking and server installation and upgrades.

Town of Dover Supervisor Ryan Courtien said, “We are excited to partner with the County to deliver efficient IT services to residents in the Town of Dover. By maintaining our own IT staff, we can directly monitor issues as they arise while also having the option to consult with the County’s OCIS Department for more advanced services and support.”

Last year, the City of Beacon partnered with OCIS to launch a newly redesigned municipal website, which is maintained and updated by the city with OCIS providing hosting and maintenance support. The Town of LaGrange will be the second municipality, after the City of Beacon, to have their municipal website redeveloped. As part of the partnership, OCIS will incorporate numerous advanced features not currently available on the town’s website. As with the City of Beacon website, the LaGrange website will be hosted and maintained by OCIS at the County’s secure computer center, however, municipal staff will have the ability to make edits to the site. Work on the new website has already commenced, and completion is expected by the end of July.

Key features of the new LaGrange website include:

  • LaGrangeDelivery – Public Outreach Service that allows residents to receive emails or text messages for information/advisories for topics that they subscribe;
  • Public Alerts and Advisories – includes both emergency and non-emergency advisories;
  • Consolidated Calendar – featuring both Town of LaGrange and countywide calendar listings;
  • Digital Newsletter – Provides news about the Town of LaGrange and what town government is doing to serve its residents through LaGrangeDelivery;
  • Integrated Map Directions to Town of LaGrange agencies’ locations;
  • Incorporation of the new GIS-based InfoAccess mapping application;
  • Website feedback survey;
  • Language Translation of all web pages – Allows residents to select virtually any language to display web pages;
  • Fully “Responsive Design”—Provides optimal viewing on workstations, tablets and smart phones.

Town of LaGrange Supervisor Alan Bell said, “We were very impressed with the work that was done on the City of Beacon website, as well as the full integration with the county’s excellent website. It sparked our interest in a shared services partnership with the county. This new website will provide much needed improved access to services and information of interest to town residents and the general public. While we’ve been following the development closely each step to date, we are all excited about seeing the finished product later this month.”

To learn more about the Digital Counties Survey, visit:

http://www.govtech.com/dc/articles/Digital-Counties-Survey-2015-Results.html

To learn more about the county’s shared services initiatives, visit:

http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/22380.htm

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