July 18, 2008 By News Report
Photo: Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker
For the fourth time since its unveiling late last year, Virtual Alabama has won an award.
This week Virtual Alabama earned the state the 2008 Innovations Award for the Southern Region from the Council of State Governments. Previous awards won by Virtual Alabama were presented by the American Council for Technology, the Google Enterprise Award and the National Governors Association.
"Alabama continues being recognized for this very advanced program," Governor Bob Riley said. "I'm very proud that Alabama keeps receiving these top awards and is being recognized as a national leader in technology and government."
Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker said, "Virtual Alabama is a state program that all Alabamians can be proud of. It's an honor to represent Alabama and showcase this program that could revolutionize the way state government collaborates."
Virtual Alabama is a computerized database of information superimposed on satellite imagery and aerial photography of all 67 counties. It is the only comprehensive database of its kind in the country, according to a release from the Governor's Office. The amount of information counties can load on to Virtual Alabama is endless, and the program can help emergency responders, law enforcement, economic developers and more with their planning and response.
The Council of State Governments chose Virtual Alabama because it is a cutting-edge program that can benefit other states. Director Walker has been in contact with several Southern states as they attempt to develop a Virtual Alabama model in their states.
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.