Technology Task Force Final Report
D. Recommendations Pertaining to E-Government Services
The Task Force recommends that the City of Fullerton give greater recognition to the importance of its information technology functions by establishing the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) for strategic planning and policy development.
To implement many of the recommendations contained in this report, the City needs someone to create a vision for external and internal use of technology, create and update the plans and strategies to implement the vision, and manage the considerable investment in technology products and services. These activities require a Chief Information Officer with the skills and experience to develop external alliances with community stakeholders and create and implement information technology plans with and for all city departments.
The Task Force recommends that the City of Fullerton develop a comprehensive information technology plan.
Strategic planning and policy formulation require big-picture consideration of the City's current and future information technology needs both internally and for its citizens. Developing such a plan also requires an external focus and collaboration with citizens, businesses, and educational institutions in the City and region.
Recently the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine joined together to measure how well cities are using information technology. The survey they conducted examined which municipal services are online, what forms are available electronically, what information is offered to the public and whether or not the public can send online feedback to city officials. In addition, the survey explored how municipal law enforcement uses technology and what role GIS plays in those efforts. The survey grouped cities into three categories based on population: >250,000, 125,000-250,000, and 75,000-125,000. Some of the leading large cities in order of ranking were: Honolulu, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Houston, Colorado Springs, Charlotte, Tucson, Indianapolis, Phoenix and San Diego. Medium-size cities were: Plano, TX, Des Moines, IA, Mobile, AL, Hampton, VA, Salt Lake City, UT, Bakersfield, CA, and Torrance, CA. Smaller cities included Roanoke, VA, Boulder, CO, Cedar Rapids, IA, Costa Mesa, CA, Bellevue, WA, and Vancouver, WA.
The City of Fullerton should install communication infrastructure that will enable the City's emergency personnel to communicate with other agencies statewide.
Events since 9/11 have emphasized the need for improved communications among emergency responders at the city, county, state, and Federal levels. Federal agencies are planning new methods of releasing information, which may include new security classifications for local government dissemination of information. The City should be making plans to integrate their communication systems with statewide systems.
The City of Fullerton should equip its public safety and public service personnel with GPS, wireless handheld, mobile communication devices that permit remote searching and updating of City databases.
Cities that have deployed this type of technology report significant reductions in the time and cost of providing service and increased job efficiencies.
The City of Fullerton should update the main financial accounting system software.
The City's current financial accounting system is based on computer programs that are over 20 years old. The company that created them is out of business. As a result considerable staff time is required to maintain old outdated code. Moving to a new system would save the City money over time and allow better integration with other systems using today's technology. For example, online payment of bills will not be possible unless the accounting software is upgraded.
The City of Fullerton should develop the resources, manpower, and training to properly address high tech crimes.
High Tech crimes are one of the fastest growing categories of crimes across the country. There are many individual types, such as Internet fraud, hacking, and identity theft. These crimes require special knowledge and techniques to solve. The City should have specialists or a close working relationship with experts with enough specialized training and equipment to do proper high-tech evidence gathering, tracking and prosecution. Most large cities and many medium-sized cities, like Torrance and El Segundo, have personnel and specialized equipment to specifically address high-tech crime. This capability is an asset to companies and individuals who rely on modern telecommunications and information technology to conduct business.
The City of Fullerton should consider creating partnerships with other government agencies to improve the scope and quality of the information technology services provided to its citizens and businesses.
Today more and more cities are acting cooperatively and regionally to provide cost-effective services to their citizens. The information required to provide effective city services, respond to emergencies and enhance economic development is often regional in scope and thus requires regional collaboration to provide solutions. San Diego and Los Angeles have both formed city/county partnerships for the purpose of providing their citizens with dynamic Internet access to certain types of city/county databases. SanGIS is a regional partnership between the County and City of San Diego that creates GIS formatted maps of public information. Other regional partnerships assist cities with information technology functions such as 311 call centers and website design and maintenance.
The City should consider cooperating with other North Orange County cities to develop a regional data base and web accessible GIS maps similar to those created by SanGIS. The Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, which is part of the North Orange County Community College District, has the expertise and facilities to produce web accessible GIS maps from data provided by the cities and county.
The Task Force recommends that the City of Fullerton continually seek new ways of using its website to communicate with the public.
The City of Fullerton should make many types of demographic and economic information pertaining to the City, such as that contained in the City's recent report, "Targeted Marketing of Retail Space", dynamically accessible over the Internet using geographic information system (GIS) software.
Businesses should be able to use the dynamic web site to locate available retail, office, and industrial properties, as well as vacant land, industry clusters, and access to high bandwidth telecommunications and transportation. A searchable database of various types of businesses and educational institutions in Fullerton could also be added and linked to their web sites.
The Fullerton area is significantly less prone to earthquake hazards such as landslides and liquifaction than many other areas of Orange County and the LA Basin, especially South Orange County. GIS maps of earthquake hazard potential (www.consrv.ca.gov/dmg/rghm and www.conservation.ca.gov/dmg/shezp) are available from the California Department of Mines and Geology and thus can be readily added to any searchable database.
Both Los Angeles and San Diego (www.SanGIS.org) city and county have web accessible GIS databases with up to 300 and 200 map layers, respectively. All parcel data are available via the Internet except the owners' names. Currency of data is tracked using a centralized metadata directory. The City of Milpitas uses Oracle technology to store and present all of its GIS information.
Another model for this type of web site is the Vallejo Economic Development Information System developed by GIS Planning. To be effective, City staff will have to work with local real estate agents to keep property listings in the database current. By having real estate brokers and property owners input data about available properties, city staff no longer will have to spend as much time acting as the middleman in the site selection process.
The City of Riverside has set up GIS kiosks that make zoning, demographic, economic and other map-based public information pertaining to the city available to the public.
The City of Fullerton should make all processes for conducting business with the public, including the scheduling of City facilities, accessible over the Internet from the City's website.
Electronic submission of completed forms should be permissible and encouraged. In addition the City should consider permitting all planning and construction documents including architectural drawings to be submitted electronically. The City of San Diego has successfully implemented this type of system.
The City of Fullerton should also work to implement technology to provide easily accessible services on a 24/7 basis. Oracle, for example, has developed comprehensive software that manages citizen's data, citizen's request for information and services as well as the fulfillment process for these requests, The software also enables government agencies to analyze citizen contact points, citizen concerns and government responses. It offers citizens the convenience of accessing citizen service through multiple interaction channels including over the counter, by telephone or online over the Web.
Some cities such as Chicago and Des Moines have built citizen response systems to track calls for service throughout their operating departments. Web-based modules give citizens direct access to the systems so that service requests can be routed to the appropriate department and callers may check the status of their requests online. These systems also allow city officials to track response times for service requests.
The City of Fullerton should develop "portal" interfaces to the City of Fullerton webpage for residents and businesses.
Portals are access points to the Internet that are tailored to specific groups of users. For instance, search engines such as Yahoo have portal interfaces geared toward finance, sports, and regional areas. The City of Fullerton should create portals for its different constituencies. For example, a portal for business would group all those resources and information that are of interest to business and the one for residents would group those that are of special interest to residents. Portals thus can provide easy interfaces to City services and information that are of interest to different constituencies. They can also serve as hubs linking visitors to other city-related websites such as those of a small business center, schools, hospitals, community organizations, and websites of city residents and neighborhoods.
The City of Fullerton should provide streaming video of City Council meetings and other appropriate City events that are accessible on demand over the Internet from the City's website.
Fullerton currently broadcasts City Council meetings over Adelphia cable TV. There are several competitors to cable TV, including two satellite systems and direct through-the-air reception. Citizens who choose these other alternatives, or businessmen who live outside Fullerton cannot view the Council meetings. Streaming video allows anyone to view meetings from any Internet connection. A citizen or council person who is traveling could watch the meetings from anywhere in the world. An added benefit of Internet streaming is that the video can be played on demand. With on-demand service, the viewer can watch at any time of the day or night and can pause or fast-forward the video.
The Task Force recommends that the City of Fullerton establish a 311 call center system to act as a single point of contact for City services, programs, information, and police non-emergencies.
311 call center systems allow businesses and residents to remember a single phone number (or website) when they need to obtain city-related services and information. The advantages cited for this service are: easy to remember number, citizens are treated as customers, single point of reference for information on city services, no call referrals and limited number of call transfers, no need for callers to understand government organization, and complete citizen request trackability, thereby, department accountability.
Similar to technologies used by professional customer service organizations, 311 systems allow each inquiry to be ticketed and monitored as the inquiry flows through various departments. This system permits businesses and residents to easily access status updates on their inquiries and it allows the City to identify breakdowns in its internal processes. Such ease of use makes city services friendly to businesses and residents leaving users of the system with the impression that the City is professional and geared toward serving them.
Lastly a 311 call center can be used as an information distribution point for city-wide programs. For instance, when announcements of free immunizations are made, call center personnel can field the influx of calls about where and when the immunizations will occur. In emergency situations, the call center can provide critical information to residents and also be utilized as a backup to the 911 system. When used in these ways, the 311 call center system becomes a key component in governmental processes and changes how businesses and residents perceive and interface with their city.
The Task Force recommends that the City of Fullerton create a new committee that will be responsible for reviewing and overseeing the implementation of adopted recommendations. A member of the City staff should be made responsible for the implementation of all adopted recommendations.