Yesterday, the Center for Digital Government and the Digital Communities program announced the winning counties in this year's survey competition to identify leaders in the digital field. Four winners were named in various population categories. These four leading communities implemented new initiaties this year that created positive results and cost savings for, despite scarce funding. Here is a look at the country's most digitally savvy community with a population of more than 500,000. A review of the other three communities will follow.
Fairfax County, VA (largest population category)
1.) Yep, there's an app for that. In fact, several. Fairfax County has developed emergency response and visitor's guide mobile apps and put them in the hands of its tech-minded residents.
Fairfaxcounty.gov is a mobile friendly site that can be easily accessed and navigated from its own mobile app. The primary app also acts as an emergency response homepage for information about weather updates and tips for how to act during an emergency.
Other apps connect citizens to library services and tourist information. Services, events, and deals in the Northern Virginia and greater Washington DC areas are featured through these mobile apps and made accessible to all citizens.
Residents also have the ability to tap into local child-care availability, land use data, transit information, public facility locations, emergency alerts and many more through these and other apps.
2.) On the environmental front, Fairfax County is reaping $300,000 in financial benefits from its energy savings programs, which include remote power management of computing resources. Their website is full of resources and do-it-yourself guides for helping their environmental mission continue to grow.
"Many county residents spend at least $100 to $200 a month on electricity, heating and cooling," it says on their site. "By taking steps to become more energy efficient, you can keep the energy you paid for where it belongs — inside your home." This is a win-win for the county. By helping citizens find way to save money on their utilities, the city is saving money and helping the environment.
3.) On the information technology front, the county received praise for their private cloud which pushes out applications to departments. The county has expressed interest in sharing this infrastructure with other local governments in the future.
4.) The creation of Fairfax County's Public Safety Data Exchange system allows many jurisdictions to share emergency call data, bringing efficiencies to emergency response.The amount of time it takes to dispatch the appropriate emergency responders has been cut in some cases by 20 to 50 percent. This video gives some sense of the need that their county was facing, and the shared services approach - aided by a new tech infrastructure - that made their success possible.
Thank you to GovTech for coverage of these awards with the article, 2012 Digital Counties Survey Winners Announced