Poughkeepsie... Dutchess County Government has jumped to a #2 national ranking as one of the most digitally-advanced county governments in the country, announced Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus. The Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo) listed Dutchess County #2 in the 250,000-499,000 population category in the 2009 Digital Counties Survey. This is the sixth consecutive year the County has been awarded a top ten ranking (2004-2009). Last year, Dutchess County was ranked #8 in the nation.
“We continue to make Dutchess County Government more accessible and easier to navigate for county residents through the use of technology,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “We have built an award winning computer infrastructure system that allows residents to get what they need without having to drive to county offices and allows county employees to be more productive and efficient. This has been a key priority for county government and we continue to reap the benefits of our technological investment.”
New online initiatives, including voice enable and language translation services on the County website http://www.dutchessny.gov/, helped push up the County’s national ranking to #2. Online visitors can have web pages “read aloud” by simply clicking the “Listen to Content” button at the top of the page. This feature benefits those with sight impairment, low literacy, dyslexia as well as those for whom English is a second language. Additionally, users are just one click away from having Web site text translated in a variety of languages. As Dutchess County’s population becomes more diverse and more visitors access the county website from around the world, this feature has become more important. No special software is required for either of these services.
The ever-growing online services available to the public at http://www.dutchessny.gov/ have clearly made the County website a popular internet destination. Over the past five years, “web pages served” have increased from approximately 60,000 to 985,000 per month, an astounding 1,700% increase. Popular e-government applications such as ParcelAccess, which in just the past year was utilized by ten-of-thousands public and business users with more than 8 million processed transactions, have contributed significantly to the website’s popularity.
Office of Computer Information Systems Commissioner Timothy Mahler emphasized that there are full spectrum of computer technologies, ranging from internal county applications to streamlined procedures that add to operational efficiency for the county, that led to Dutchess County’s impressive ranking. The Digital Counties award recognized Dutchess County’s efforts to achieve equipment energy savings through the use of small footprints PCs, copiers as printers and server consolidation. It also recognized the County’s recent investment in a high speed, cost effective “Dark” Fiber Optic network that has increased reliability and performance. “Residents may not be able to see many of the improvements we have made to our computer infrastructure, but it is these “behind the scenes” capabilities that allow us to produce such a quality product for public use,” Commissioner Mahler said.
“Our goal is to use technological innovation to meet service needs and improve usability for both the public as well county employees,” said Commissioner Mahler. “As part of County Executive Steinhaus’ “Dutchess Goes Green” agenda, these innovations have the added benefit of allowing people to be able to access services and information from their home or business without the need to travel to county offices; saving time, money and energy.”
The 2009 Digital Counties Survey is an annual study by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). Thousands of U.S. counties were invited to participate in the annual survey. The survey focused on more than 100 measurements and data points about online service delivery, infrastructure, architecture and governance models to identify how the county provided for innovation and change to transform business processes.
Dutchess County was one of only two counties in the Northeast honored with the Digital County award. The other county to be recognized was Westchester County (population 500,000+).
County Executive Steinhaus concluded, “We have a great team of people in our OCIS department whose hard work and effort behind the scenes have once again delivered award winning results. We are very proud that our technological investments have paid off with 6 straight years of national recognition and most importantly, valuable e-government services that benefit our residents by saving them time and money.”