CEC offers forum for IS managers
Technology may be improving our ability to manage information, but it has not made the job any simpler. Just ask any city or county government information system (IS) manager.
They face the same problems as their private industry counterparts, namely, keeping up with the deluge of new technology and sorting though the offerings of dozens of vendors who, without exception, claim their product is the one that truly makes the job faster and easier.
Two groups of IS managers, the organization of Government Management Information Science (GMIS) and the Texas Association of Government Data Processing Managers (TAGDPM), which is affiliated with GMIS, are sold on a new concept for evaluating technologies.
This concept relies on a corporate evaluation center at Dallas-based Infomart, a 1.6 million-square-foot technology market center that is home to more than 100 technology companies.
Both organizations have recently elected to participate in the center’s Corporate Evaluation Center (CEC) program.
This provides the organizations’ members with a forum for studying common problems, an opportunity to share knowledge already acquired and all important access to a number of key technology vendors.
“Our members manage IS departments for cities, counties and state agencies across the country, and we’re all evaluating the same basic technologies: client/server, imaging and geographic information systems (GIS),” says Harry Sutton, president of the Georgia-based GMIS. “Establishing a CEC should speed up our evaluation cycle by allowing us to hear from a number of vendors at once.”
The CEC program provides GMIS members with access to hardware, software and vendor expertise previously available only to the largest corporations.
CEC member organizations can shorten their evaluation process and bring new technologies on-line faster by collaborating with Infomart residents, such as AT&T, Andersen Consulting, Apple Computer, EDS, Toshiba and Xerox by means of the building’s advanced fiber-optic network, MartNet.
“Access to the multitude of vendors is a big draw,” Sutton says. “This program gives us a chance to share information with our members, and that’s what we’re all about.”
One application GMIS members plan to study – geographic information systems (GIS) – is based on parcels of land. For example, a map featuring overlays would show various boundaries and systems. This could include city council districts, zoning districts, utilities, traffic signals, street signs, tax districts and more. Managing the complex overlapping boundaries can require a sophisticated system.
TAGDPM, which represents more than 80 IS managers from cities, counties and tax appraisal districts throughout Texas, is also looking to the CEC for help in speeding up the evaluation process.
“Individually, one vendor evaluation a week would not be uncommon,” says Jim Bullock, TAGDPM president and IS manager for the city of Irving. “Through this program, we can conceivably evaluate one or two a day.”
TAGDPM’s first group of members will evaluate wireless mobile computing solutions for police, fire and code enforcement inspectors. The collection of vendor companies represent a variety of perspectives, not just one,” Bullock says.
“We benefit by seeing those different perspectives and by sharing that knowledge we gain with our members,” he adds.
Other companies participating in the program include Abbott Laboratories, Alcatel Network Systems, Associates Bancorp, Hoechst Celanese Chemical Group, Neiman Marcus and Rockwell International.
Bruce Benesh is the director of Corporate Communications at Infomart, Dallas.