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.
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.