Implementing a technology master plan
Four years ago, DeKalb County, Ga., initiated a program to streamline its hardware and software systems. At that time, a variety of systems were in use, making it difficult for the information systems staff to provide technical support across the board.
The recent completion of the program has reduced to less than a handful the number of systems in use. It also has enhanced the efficiency and productivity of county employees by providing, among other capabilities, the convenience of inter-office e-mail with attachment abilities, thereby opening up new ways of doing business.
Now, county employees are looking forward to participating in the next phase of technological development. They will establish and implement county-wide strategic priorities such as pursuing and maintaining a modern level of technology, standardizing where possible, centralizing purchasing and creating a seamless system. These priorities will focus on pension planning, payroll, library services, case management and jail management systems.
With a myriad of technical choices available, it is essential to have experts come in and help assess a county’s needs.
DeKalb County’s consultants work as a team with staff members under a three-year plan to carry the county’s information systems technology into the new millennium. At the county’s insistence, the program was designed so the staff could continue to manage it once the initial three-year phase was over.
The team seeks to develop a strategic information systems master plan that will include the necessary elements (hardware, software, communications and staffing) necessary for the county to have a totally integrated management information system. The methodology involves gathering data, conducting audit and needs analysis, and developing recommendations and alternatives for final approval by the administration. This will be accomplished by spring 1998.
Additionally, a cable franchise has agreed to redesign the county’s network next year with 12 strands of fiber-optic cable to each location, as well as growth capacity, at no cost. The savings of approximately $13 million allows the county to eliminate several piecemeal contracts resulting in further savings of $12 million to $13 million.
In addition to the master plan for information systems, the GIS department is managing the development of an enterprise-wide mapping database based on digital orthophoto technology. This technology will make the mapping products more automated while simplifying an extremely complex technology.
County departments will have new planimetric and topographic maps and imagery that can be displayed on a computer at various scales, while having the horizontal accuracy associated with traditional mapping. Citizens, as well as the business community, can look forward to a host of new map products.
The county’s use of GIS technology began in 1992 through a demographic and social services project with one of the county’s collaborative partnerships. The GIS technology was used to create community profiles depicting conditions, needs and proximity to service providers. With input from community leaders, the technology will eventually be updated and expanded with GIS capabilities of the school system, courts and department of public safety.
The county understands that data that is not readily accessible and useful is a lost investment. Although they are expensive, today’s technological investments will repay the citizens many times over in the quality of tomorrow’s community.