January 25, 2010 By Corey McKenna
The Montgomery County, Pa., Department of Public Safety used to receive 50 to 100 calls daily from media inquiring about traffic accidents and road hazards that would snarl traffic. To alleviate the large volume of phone calls, the department collaborated with the county's IT department and developed a Web site that provides the public with information about active fire and emergency medical services calls as well as traffic incidents from the county's computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system.
As a result, the public safety department has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of calls from media about traffic accidents and hazards. "There are some days where we might get one or two in a 24-hour period when we were doing 50 to 100 in the 24-hour period before," said Sean Petty, Montgomery County's deputy director of public safety for communications and technology.
The Web site gets around 60,000 hits a month, Petty said.
The Web site, launched in November 2009, provides summaries, including the incident number, the resources deployed and if they have arrived on scene, and the incident location, which also is plotted on a Google map. The site also provides a link to the county's live emergency medical services and fire radio communications.
For more information on the Montgomery County online incident reports, please visit the Emergency Management Web site.
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.