Dept. of Information Technology wins NACO awardsShowing that Westchester continues to stand out as an innovator, the National Association of Counties (NACo) has selected five county programs to receive 2010 Achievement Awards that represent “effective and creative” solutions to the problems local governments face.

The award announcements noted that NACo is “extremely pleased with the high caliber of county programs and services” and recognizes the “hard work to promote quality, efficient and responsive management and administration.”

One of the awards is for advanced technology by the Department of Information Technology (DoIT). The second was in conjunction with the County Clerk’s office, and three are for programs by the Department for Senior Programs and Services (DSPS).

Westchester was recognized for its Optimal Routing Application, which uses Google maps and other resources to provide county employees with optimal driving routes during inspections and other operational activities. The application, developed by the Geographic Information Systems team within DoIT, was designed entirely in-house with non-technical users in mind. After entering in multiple destination addresses into the web-based system, the application automatically generates the most efficient driving route possible. The application therefore minimizes miles driven by county cars, reduces gas consumption and pollution, saves staff time and indirectly reduces vehicle maintenance expenses. 

County Clerk's Office wins NACO awardThe County Clerk’s Property Records Electronic Portal (PREP) was recognized for saving both money and time. PREP is a web-based application that customers use to prepare cover pages and tax forms, which accompany land records, such as deeds and mortgages, when they are presented to the Clerk’s office for recording.

County Clerk's Office wins NACO awardThe system, which can be used by both customers and staff, facilitates the recording of land records while reducing workload, increasing accuracy and accelerating recording times. For a $500,000 investment, PREP will yield a savings of approximately $700,000 a year, primarily from reductions in personnel.  The application was developed by a project team from the County Clerk’s office and DoIT.

Colette Phipps, a DSPS research analyst, led Westchester’s contributions to the Livable Communities Web portal.In DSPS, recognition went to a web portal, a safe streets program and Project Lifesaver, which issues electronic bracelets to seniors at risk of wandering.

The Livable Communities Westchester web portal is a collaboration between DSPS, the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and AARP. The program is part of the Livable Communities Initiative, which has developed a wide range of activities and projects focusing on building places where people can age comfortably in their homes.

Users of the DSPS’ site will find that by clicking the link to “asset maps,” for example, they can easily identify resources, such as libraries, transportation and cultural sites, by municipality and zip code. In turn, this information can be used to see what assets a municipality has and what it may need.  No taxpayer money is being used to create this web portal, which is expected to be in operation this fall.

Dozene Guishard, a DSPS program coordinator, led Westchester's role in the state-wide walkability audit.
DSPS and AARP New York also teamed up to conduct a “walkability” survey to evaluate the safety and accessibility of the county’s sidewalks, roads and traffic intersections for pedestrians. More than 125 volunteers surveyed 14 intersections in nine municipalities to assess conditions such as whether there are properly marked crosswalks, unbroken sidewalks and traffic lights that allow enough time for people with limited mobility to cross the road.

The survey was part of a state-wide, week-long “Complete Streets” audit that took place in April and will result in a report underscoring the need for new legislation, which was introduced in Albany. A separate report on the Westchester intersections will be compiled for county and municipal leaders.

Meleita Jones, a DSPS program administrator, is DSPS’ staff liaison to the Project Lifesaver program.The third Seniors’ award went to Project Lifesaver, a two-year-old program that uses radio-frequency technology to quickly find seniors with Alzheimer’s disease who wander from their homes. Seniors wear electronic bracelets and if they become lost, specially trained and equipped police officers from the county’s Department of Public Safety can locate them by tracking a radio signal the bracelets transmit.

So far, Project Lifesaver has located seven missing seniors and been activated to search for six others who were found before the police went out. Currently, 58 seniors are enrolled.

The award winners will be recognized at NACO’s 14th annual awards ceremony on July 18 during the organization’s 2010 annual conference in Washoe County, Nevada.

Captions in order of appearance:
Zhenglu Zhang, a software architect in GIS, designed and developed the Optimal Routing Application.

County Clerk Timothy Idoni ( second from left) with members of the PREP Project Team ( l-r) Deputy County Clerk John Allen, Program Coordinator (Land Records) Laura Laibowitz, Assistant Deputy County Clerk Margie Crawford, Software Architect ll Rajesh Lokhande, Principal Systems/Programming Analyst Bob Falco, and PREP Project Manager Eileen Songer McCarthy

Colette Phipps, a DSPS research analyst, led Westchester’s contributions to the Livable Communities Web portal.

Dozene Guishard, a DSPS program coordinator, led Westchester's role in the state-wide walkability audit.

Meleita Jones, a DSPS program administrator, is DSPS’ staff liaison to the Project Lifesaver program.