September 8, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
Through a partnership with a philanthropic organization and a private company, the Santa Barbara County (Calif.) Office of Emergency Services (OES) has improved its disaster preparedness and response initiatives, including assuring that officials can communicate with the residents even when power, landline phones, cell phones and the Internet are down.
In 2006, the Santa Barbara Civil Grand Jury released a report that identified gaps in community preparedness, including recommending that the OES needed to be a stand-alone government department. The Orfalea Foundations, a Santa Barbara-based philanthropic organization, took interest in resolving the county's preparedness issues and developed the Aware & Prepare initiative.
Natalie Orfalea had noticed that the foundation was receiving requests related to emergency preparedness programs, according to Barbara Andersen, the Aware & Prepare Initiative consultant for the Orfalea Foundations. Those requests, and Orfalea's desire to help the community, prompted her to approach the county and James Lee Witt Associates. Together they established a partnership to aid the community's disaster preparedness and response capabilities.
Go to Emergency Management's article for more information about Santa Barbara's emergency preparedness partnership.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.