POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Government is the number two ranked mid-size county government in the nation for its use of technology according to the 2020 Digital Counties Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo).
Dutchess County’s technology is credited with keeping residents updated and informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The county’s IT department also made it possible for county employees to work remotely while still providing services to the public.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “From rapidly rolling out resources so County employees could safely work from home to developing innovative technology to ensure there was uninterrupted access to essential services and the latest COVID-19 data and information, OCIS played a critical role in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to be the number two ranked mid-size county government in the Digital Counties Survey, recognizing our efforts to use technology to help residents and employees alike feel connected as we all stayed apart to help stop the spread of the virus.”
In March, the County’s Office of Central and Information Services (OCIS) mobilized to help shift to remote access for employees as seamlessly as possible during unprecedented times and developed resources to help keep residents informed of the developing public health situation. OCIS also increased access and connectivity through resources such as Microsoft Teams and Cisco Expressway to facilitate the day-to-day operations of essential employees, as well as weekly virtual meetings with schools, municipal partners, and other community leaders to discuss emergent issues and share resources.
To keep residents informed, OCIS developed the Dutchess County COVID-19 Data Dashboard; provided logistical support for the Dutchess County Coronavirus Hotline; and built website pages to house updates and information about the pandemic, as well as the County’s Dutchess Responds and Restarting Dutchess initiatives. The survey also recognized the County’s efforts to engage citizens throughout the Pandemic on its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube platforms, including hosting over 30 virtual town halls where the County Executive shared updates and answered residents’ questions.
Below are some additional County initiatives highlighted in the various Digital Counties Survey categories:
- Dutchess County launched the Parks & Trails map-based application in 2019, which provides enthusiasts with a variety of interactive tools to discover nearly 200 parks and almost 400 miles of trails throughout the county. OCIS is using data analytics to help improve parks and trails services and plan for future park enhancements.
- Dutchess County continues to enhance its presentation of budget information to the public, with content offering a big picture perspective on the County’s financial condition through budget video presentations, Budget-in-Brief documents, and detailed graphs and departmental line-item budgets.
- The County’s website, Dutchessny.gov, which was completely redesigned in 2019, has seen a dramatic increase in site visits and a 10 percent increase in pages served.
- OCIS worked with three municipalities to develop and host new websites for residents, including incorporating the shared services offering of the County’s public outreach service, Dutchess Delivery. New websites and subscription options were launched in 2019 for the Town of Wappinger website and Wappinger Delivery; City of Beacon website and Beacon Delivery; and Village of Wappingers Falls website and Wappingers Delivery.
Cyber-security was also addressed.
- In January, OCIS hosted the inaugural Hudson Valley Cybersecurity Summit at Marist College with more than 300 attendees representing 18 counties from New York and New Jersey.
- OCIS continues to maintain a comprehensive approach to data protection and response to ensure countywide protection, including adding a mandatory countywide employee training; implementing a new security system that flags vulnerable data and helps OCIS protect it without interrupting everyday business; and establishing a team to address and respond to security issues.
Dutchess County’s Shared-Services programs were also recognized.
- The County initiated a County Procurement Specialist Program to assist municipalities with bids and contracts. 17 of 30 municipalities requested a contract in the first year, resulting in significant cost savings through cooperative purchasing and shared contracts.
- This year, the County negotiated a shared service agreement to give the Town of Hyde Park Police Department access to the County’s multi-jurisdictional software license for Tyler Technologies New World Solution public safety system. The Town was awarded a grant for $187,000 through the County’s Municipal Innovation Grant (MIG) program in 2019 to help offset the set-up costs of the platform. This project has saved the Town $691,000 for the initial set-up and an additional $42,000 per year that had been required for annual maintenance on its previous system.
- This year, the County upgraded its wide area network (WAN) infrastructure with increased bandwidth to connect more than 18 sites, including primary County sites and two large municipalities, as part of a $3.6 million investment. This upgrade resulted in increased network and processing speeds, as well as cost savings for taxpayers.
Sustainability & Resilience:
- Earlier this year, OCIS completed two off-site data centers with modernized, energy-efficient servers, storage devices, network equipment, and backup generator power devices to ensure the County’s disaster recovery assets were optimized for efficiency and effectiveness as well as sustainability.
- In cooperation with numerous departments (including the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, Community and Family Services, Office of Probation and Community Corrections and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office) and in coordination with local hospitals and healthcare providers, OCIS facilitated the migration of the County’s health record management system to the Cerner Millennium Community Behavioral Health (CBH) secure cloud-based platform. By integrating patient information gathered within an organization as well as across the community, providers and departments can improve regulatory compliance and service quality.
OCIS Commissioner Glenn Marchi, Ph.D., said, “The Dutchess County Office of Central and Information Services team continues to find and implement shared services and other cost-saving opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to think outside the box with even more creative and innovative solutions for this ‘new normal’ environment while continuing to deliver secure, quality information technology services to the people of Dutchess County.”
“Innovative counties are using technology and data to better serve their citizens, respond quickly to citizen needs around COVID-19, and support digital experience initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for their hard work and their efforts to use technology to make government better.”
This is the 18th annual Digital Counties Survey and Dutchess County has been ranked in the top ten among the nation’s best all 18 years of the survey in the 250,000-4999,999-population category and has earned the number one national ranking three times. Learn more about the Digital Counties Survey.