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.
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.