developing an enterprisewide wireless strategy, Kentucky signed a statewide contract for mobile voice services with Cingular Wireless in August.

Officials say the contract will improve wireless coverage throughout the state, simplify pricing, create a formal account-management process and expand network services. Executive branch agencies, which currently use about 4,000 mobile telephones, must use the contract unless they receive an exception by the Governor's Office for Technology.

"We modeled this after a wire-line bid that we did years ago that created the Kentucky information highway, where we have a single point of contact to order services," said David Ballard, executive director of infrastructure services for the technology office. "Before, for wireless voice services, an agency might have had five different vendors; now, they have one."

The new contract took effect Oct. 1, and Ballard estimates it will reduce the state's cost of wireless voice services by 25 percent. The contract also is open to local jurisdictions.

Iowa to Alumni: Come Back

DES MOINES, Iowa - Like many states, Iowa is worried about its workforce. Facing a numbers crunch, Iowa hopes to lure former residents back to the state by showcasing attractive job opportunities.

"Our statistics determined that as the baby boomers are retiring, we're going to be short of a working population," said Nancy Pedersen, communications manager of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. "We need to retain Iowans and recruit people to Iowa."

Several state agencies have teamed with private-sector representatives to form the Iowa Human Resource Recruitment Consortium. One of the organization's goals is to show one-time Iowans what the state now has to offer.

"Some of the things that we're doing is invitations to receptions in various parts of the country," Pedersen said. "We've been to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, New York and Chicago."

Recently, some 6,000 Iowa alumni were invited to receptions in Dallas and Austin, Texas, according to Kay Snyder, marketing team leader for the consortium. Iowa Gov. Thomas Vilsack uses the events to meet attendees and pitch his state's employment opportunities. In addition, Iowa biotech, aerospace and IT firms set up booths at the receptions to recruit new workers.

Snyder said the events were intended to help Iowa reconnect with residents who have settled elsewhere. "What we needed to do was - let them know what opportunities are available in Iowa today and show them what has changed since they left," She said.

Underwater Eyes

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - A tragic drowning during a swimming class in 1999 prompted city officials to search for a better way to protect citizens using public pools.

St. Cloud found a solution in the form of software that sees under water. Developed by a French company, the software uses images taken by underwater and overhead cameras to give lifeguards a 3-D view of what's happening beneath the pool's surface.

The city installed the system at four schools this summer, said Mike Forer, St. Cloud's environmental health and safety supervisor. "The sense of security in our swimming pools will be raised to a level that we would never have been able to achieve otherwise," he said.

Images generated by the system are so detailed that users can easily count one-inch square tiles lining the sides of the pools, according to Forer. "The system can pinpoint where an individual is in trouble," he said. "The lifeguard doesn't have to dive into the pool and search an area - he or she knows exactly where to go."

The system's accuracy is based on detailed studies of a pool's interior.

"When we had the pools drained and had the holes drilled into the walls of the pools where the cameras were going to go, we had a survey company come in, and they had to do a survey of the interior of our pools,"