Client/server system helps county run smoothly
Nestled in the northeast corner of Georgia along the banks of the Savannah River, the bedroom community of Columbia Country has awakened with an explosive population growth over the past several years. In 1950, the county had a population of a little more than 9,000 people, says County Administrator Steve Szablewski. Today, that number has topped 70,000 and continues to climb. The spiraling population growth has subsequently created a demand for more extensive public services. This means the county must maintain an Information Systems (IS) department that can keep pace with the demands for more services.
In Columbia County, the solution was the IBM Application System/400. The mid-range platform operates in a client/server environment to process and deliver data on all municipal, motor vehicle and public safety activities.
The systems, together with a range of software programs, ensure that the administrative and public safety branches of government run smoothly by offering easy, continuous and reliable access to crucial information.
MOTOR VEHICLE SYSTEM
The Motor Vehicle information System (MVIS) is one of the most frequently queried applications residing on the administrative computer system. It provides up-to-date data on vehicle registration numbers, color and type of vehicles, date of registrations and drivers, records.
Much of the information from the MVIS is also available to the county’s law enforcement officials to help make their jobs easier. Officers can retrieve data from the system by simply entering a license number. The pertinent data is then immediately accessed, extracted and displayed, and, most importantly, the entire transaction is completely transparent to the end user.
Previously, public safety officials had to log on directly to the administrative software @ a somewhat time-intensive procedure that required the end user to learn various code commands. Officers can now access information in seconds that previously took hours.
PHOTO IMAGING SYSTEM
Police lineups are becoming a thing of the past with the help of technology. Law enforcement agents and investigators can nowgenerate entire lineups electronically, saving them the countless, painstaking hours of manually picking through mug shots. The imaging system allows both investigators and witnesses to identify suspects based on reported characteristics. The data bank consists of photos taken when inmates are processed into jail. When victims or witnesses describe the physical characteristics of the suspects, the data is entered directly into the system. Photos are transferred from the Public Safety Computer system and moved into Compu-color software for display on the investigator’s screen. The software is equipped with a board that compresses the images for DASD storage, and new data is automatically integrated into the existing resident database of files.
Composite drawings are then created after an electronically generated lineup of suspects is selected. These images can be printed out for distribution to law enforcement agencies across the country.
Currently there are 5,000 images on the system and an additional 2,000 more to be moved to the new platform. Officers save between three days and four days of work for each individual search, while providing a better quality photo for identification purposes.
The county’s data administration staff has also been developing a customized GIS client/server platform topology that will be capable of taking existing data and presenting it in digitized map and geofile forms. “This is very important as Columbia County continues to grow,” Szablewski says.For example, city planners can take a database of building permits, have them digitized and displayed instantaneously on a map for planning road improvements and water lines.,,
End users can access this data via a simple point-and-click system. The interface transfers information from the administrative system onto the ARC/Info software platform. All data is transferred over a Token Ring network, and CAD operators enter and access data via an X-station emulation client platform.
As a result of the system, the county has been able to reduce the time required to access data and respond more quickly to emergency situations. The sheriffs department, which a year ago had no terminals accessing the system, now has 40. “If we didn’t implement this system, we would have had to add at least 15 people to our station Szablewski says.