July 16, 2010 By Russell Nichols
In Bossier City, La., the local police department is finally catching up to the 21st century, one ticket at a time.
For years, traffic officers lost precious time and wasted paper when they had to write a driver's information in a ticket book. But in the next few months, the paper ticket process will be left behind, replaced with a comprehensive new e-ticketing system.
The system, called the Thinkstream Mobile Suite, will allow traffic officers to fill out citations electronically, write crash and incident reports, and send information to the city's clerks system with the touch of a button. This wasn't possible before. In years prior, all paper citations had to be entered manually by a records clerk, a time-consuming process, said Mark Natale, Bossier City public information officer.
The new system also allows officers to generate reports via laptops, Natale said, and eventually citizens will be able to pay traffic citations and obtain crash reports online.
"This streamlines everything and makes the process a lot faster," he said. "It saves the department money and it's just a really efficient way of issuing citations."
The technology has been around for some time, but it took a while for the city to have the funds and finish the research to implement it, Natale said. Earlier this year, he said, the system was included with the capital budget, costing the city $680,000. Although he didn't have any idea how much the system could save the city, Natale said the technology would reduce time to input information and cut back on paper usage.
"Savings will come in the long run," he said. "It's going to drastically improve efficiency of the police department."
The Baton Rouge, La.-based vendor, Thinkstream Inc., focuses on making the core technology customizable to support the seamless exchange of information between various systems.
"The idea," said Barry Bellue, president and CEO, "is to take the citation from the street through the entire justice system in one seamless movement."
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.