October 9, 2009 By News Report
New York City is the most populous city in the United States and home to more than 8 million people, but not everyone has a place to call home. However, the city's Department of Homeless Services' (DHS) mission is to prevent the latter by providing short-term and emergency shelter to those in need. To combat homelessness in the city, the DHS teamed up with IBM and Global Bay Mobile Technologies in April 2008 to streamline its sheltering process by equipping field inspectors with mobile devices to eliminate paper-based tasks.
Today the public-private partnership announced that the deployment of mobile handheld devices has helped to increase the number of permanent housing inspections DHS conducts. "Working with IBM and Global Bay, we developed a solution that takes significant strides toward that objective. The handheld device is the result of innovative and forward thinking, and is an example of good government," said Robert V. Hess, commissioner of the New York City DHS, in a press release.
In the past, field inspectors had to input information while in the office and in the field, but this required a few steps, which sometimes took days to complete. Now thanks to the mobile devices, the work has been cut drastically by allowing DHS staff and inspectors to share data, such as the condition of the dwelling, documenting housing compliance standards and completing checklists, in real time.
"We needed to get apartments inspected and approved more efficiently," said Ken Zima, CIO of the DHS, according the release. "Knowing there were families in shelter who were so close to getting back to the community made our mobility needs a critical mission."
Since deploying the devices, DHS inspections have increased by 57 percent and the number of leases signed through its rental assistance program, Advantage New York, has increased by 25 percent.
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.