The Daily Mash-Up

Thursday, August 27, 2015 This Week's Paper
Pierce County wins national awards for voter project and emergency mobile app

Last year, Pierce County completed a redistricting project affecting nearly every local voter in just five weeks. The county also started using the latest mobile technology to track damage to roads, bridges, and buildings during floods, fires and other disasters.

These two innovative programs have been recognized as among the best in the United States by the National Association of Counties (NACo). The 2013 NACo Achievement Awards recognize counties for excellence in delivering key services to the public.

“These national Achievement Awards recognize initiatives that improve the efficient delivery of services,” said County Executive Pat McCarthy. “These are just two of the latest examples of the hard work by Pierce County employees to find ways to maintain or improve services to the public even as we operate with fewer resources.”

Pierce County received achievement awards in two categories:

  1. From ambulances to ballots: using GIS emergency data to map voting districts (County Administration and Management category)

In preparation for the 2012 presidential election, Pierce County needed to complete a major redistricting project in record time. The Auditor’s Office and Information Technology department worked together to redraw all local voting precincts around 154 federal, state and local election district boundaries.

Election staff saw an opportunity to streamline the process by integrating the Geographic Information System (GIS) with the voter registration system. The county already used GIS mapping and E911 address databases to send ambulances or sheriff deputies to the right address in an emergency. Now that same process can be used to assign voters to the right precincts. The county successfully remapped 503 voting precincts within 154 election districts in five weeks. In doing so, Pierce County saved considerable money and staff time while ensuring 100 percent accuracy.

  1. Improving Public Safety with the Damage Assessment Mobile Application (Emergency Management)

The Department of Emergency Management and IT Department created the Damage Assessment Mobile App to help emergency teams and volunteers survey damage after a disaster. The app enables users take pictures of damaged property, take notes about the level of damage, and immediately send the information to the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

This is a major improvement over the old method of writing damage reports by hand. Locations of damaged buildings, bridges, and roads are captured via GPS and sent with photos of the damage, thus improving the quality and accuracy of reports. The app greatly improved emergency communications during recent exercises and winter flooding. By taking advantage of the latest mobile technology, Pierce County has found a cost effective way to ensure accurate, real-time damage assessment during an emergency.

This year’s NACo Achievement Award winners represent 27 states and 97 counties. More information is available at www.naco.org.

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