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Poughkeepsie… For the 13th consecutive year, Dutchess County Government has been recognized in the nation’s top 10 best examples of technology use to improve services and boost efficiencies to better serve residents. The 2016 Digital Counties Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), ranked Dutchess County 5th in the nation, in the 250,000-499,999 population category, for its use of information and communications technology.
Dutchess County’s award winning survey, submitted by recently retired Office of Central and Information Services (OCIS) Commissioner Tim Mahler, highlighted many of the initiatives and programs instituted by Dutchess County Government to save tax dollars, boost transparency, improve cybersecurity and citizen engagement, and continue to innovate the way in which government operates.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “Congratulations to our entire OCIS team who are at the forefront of these nationally recognized initiatives and programs. We are grateful to Tim Mahler for his many years of leadership and service – he built a legacy of innovation that has made Dutchess County a national leader. As we begin the next chapter in OCIS with our new Commissioner Glenn Marchi at the helm, we look forward to building on the legacy with new innovations and initiatives that allow us to better serve and engage with our citizens.”
Below are some of the County’s initiatives highlighted in the various Digital Counties Survey categories:
Open Government, Transparency, Open Data
Access to information and ability to connect with Dutchess County Government has never been easier, with multiple tools readily available through the County’s www.dutchessny.gov website. Tools like Dutchess Dashboard and the annual budget documents, including the Budget-In-Brief, provide key data points for residents.
Dutchess County continues to expand its digital document management, providing public access to a broad range of county documents, including legislative resolutions, County Clerk documents, as well as historical records using an online web portal.
Meetings of the Dutchess County Legislature are webcast live and the webcasts are then archived along with meeting agendas and resolutions, making it easy for residents to stay up to date and informed about legislative actions.
The County’s mobile strategies involve public applications as well as tools for employees to be more efficient. Among the many mobile offerings for the public are Dutchess County’s HELPLINE mobile app which is available through Google Play or the Apple store; the launch of texting conversations with the 24/7 HELPLINE; as well as the launch of Text to 911 for emergencies where it is not safe to speak to a 911 operator. Additionally, applications such as Aerial Access enable the public to identify their location and start aerial views, and the new Dutchess Bike Parking Finder provides an online searchable map of bike parking locations combined with rail trails and designated bike routes to enable cyclists to locate parking near their planned destination.
County employees, including Child Protective Service workers, public health nurses, and case managers, who engage with the public in the community are taking advantage of tablets to be more efficient in the field. These mobile tools enable them to have key information readily available and allows them to complete necessary reporting with clients quickly and easily.
Social Media/Citizen Engagement
Dutchess County Government is active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to inform and engage residents. Additionally, the County’s Dutchess Delivery service allows residents to subscribe to more than 60 broad-ranging topic areas. Updates are automatically distributed to subscribers via email or in some instances, text message. Dutchess County Government has allowed made use of countywide Tele town-hall meetings to share information about the annual budget process and reach a broad audience.
Dutchess County Government has been aggressive in its effort to promote shared services to reduce the cost of government and increase efficiencies. OCIS has led this effort, providing PC/server tech services, network services, website and software development, and IT consulting. OCIS has worked with numerous local municipalities and government entities, including the City of Beacon, Town of LaGrange, and the Arlington Fire District to develop new websites, as well as streamline information technology services. These partnerships have provided cost savings and help deliver information to residents faster and more effectively.
Cybersecurity and Disaster Recovery
Ensuring county networks and systems are secure and operations can continue during emergencies is a paramount priority for OCIS. The Digital Counties Survey recognized Dutchess County’s work to ensure there are multiple layers of security in place, security awareness training is ongoing and threat detection is strong against the wide variety of network system threats such as botnets, spyware, phishing, malware and viruses. Dutchess County has worked to build redundancy into its network and phone systems for continuity of operations in the case of disaster to ensure services can still be provided to residents.
Glenn Marchi, who officially began as OCIS Commissioner on Monday, said, “I look forward to continuing to build on the great work done over the many years by Dutchess County OCIS. We will seek to expand the partnerships with local municipalities and provide tools for the public that allow them to easily access services and engage with their county government. Dutchess County is fortunate to have such an impressive group of IT professionals and I am pleased to have joined this award-winning team.”