The Alabama Department of Homeland Security received the Google Enterprise Superstar Award for innovation for its Virtual Alabama program. This is the first Google Enterprise Superstar Award given to a government agency.

Governor Bob Riley said, "This is a tremendous honor for our state. Having our Department of Homeland Security recognized by one of the world's most respected information technology companies says that we're using all the resources available to make Alabama safer."

Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker received the award in Washington, D.C, at the Google@Work Seminar hosted by the Google Federal Team.

"What makes this program so remarkable is the input and collaboration with counties and other state agencies," said Director Walker. "We are literally building this program from the ground up and it is very encouraging to see all levels of government and industry working so well together. It's really a grassroots effort that allows the people who will benefit from the program to help create it."

"We're excited about the way Google Earth is allowing Alabama's Department of Homeland Security to assemble, display, evaluate and share critical geospatial information across state and local departments statewide," said Mike Bradshaw, Head of Google Federal Enterprise. "This is a case study that offers an incredible example of how we hope government agencies can use Google Earth technologies to truly benefit citizens."

Virtual Alabama is an AL DHS initiative designed to make data sharing easier among first responders. Google Earth technology allows users to view a wide variety of information, including infrastructure, evacuation routes, flood zones, school districts and watersheds. Agencies using the program access this information through a secure, Web-based application.

Virtual Alabama has been centrally funded by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security. The software required to view the program is available at no cost to users in counties and municipalities. The program is simple to use, and there are many homeland security and other local applications that can be easily developed.

Virtual Alabama is currently available in 41 counties. It is scheduled to be in place in all 67 Alabama counties by the end of 2007.