December 5, 2012 By Brian Heaton
Like many cities along the eastern seaboard, Norfolk, Va., experienced flood waters triggered by Hurricane Sandy in October. But unlike years past, where it could take days to calculate storm damage, a new Web-based application helped the city keep a close eye on Sandy’s impact in real-time, making incident reporting more efficient.
That’s good news for local governments as the number of large, damage-inducing storms has steadily increased in recent years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other research groups, making accurate damage assessments even more crucial to wide-scale recovery efforts.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) requires cities to file the report within three days following a storm. The internal report is used to help the state compile data to apply for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The problem for Norfolk was that the process could go right down to the wire as inspectors and office staff put together the reports manually.
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.