Henderson, Nev., has expanded by an average of 1,000 new residents per month over the last five years. The city is ramping up its efforts to keep pace in delivering services to citizens and businesses, and provide city employees the tools to deliver those services efficiently. At the fore of these efforts is Curlie Matthews, who joined the city as CIO in 2001.

Matthews boasts 22 years of experience in planning and deploying information system platforms, and has served as manager of network engineering at Disney Worldwide Services, as well as in technical positions at AT&T and Pacific Bell.

What is the biggest IT challenge facing Henderson?

From an IT perspective, [it's] how we provide communications and access infrastructure to meet our employees' needs. Right now the city is approximately 110 square miles of developed or undeveloped land. And as we move farther and farther into the undeveloped areas, the challenges for us from a police; from a building and code inspection perspective is : How do we provide the communications those folks are going to need to do their jobs without having to always come back to City Hall to do their updates?

What are you currently doing to make that happen?

We're moving more and more into the Wi-Fi arena, and handheld data devices for our employees. We're involved in a pilot program with SprintNextel, who is our local provider, to deploy Wi-Fi in the city. Right now we're looking at two specific areas: downtown where we're undergoing a large redevelopment program, and then to the south and west of downtown, one of our big growth areas in terms of building and new construction.

What are the roadblocks to the IT department's goals?

Primarily access rights and selecting a primary service provider. We will need to go out and develop what's not in place in terms of a Wi-Fi, and also the deployment of the handheld devices and applications that work in a wireless environment. Training our end users so they become more technology literate is also a challenge.

What are your biggest accomplishments as CIO?

A new system for our police and fire departments that includes automatic photo and fingerprint identification, computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle location so our dispatchers can dispatch to the closest police or fire vehicle to a particular incident here in the city. What we actually did was start from ground zero and implemented these systems.

We've also put in a new enterprise resource planning program here in the city to handle all of our financial and human resources needs. We bought PeopleSoft and fully implemented that application here -- and all of this is within the past five years.

We moved our computer room to a new data center, along with moving just about every employee to a new city hall complex that also included putting in a brand new PBX [phone system] for the city. We did a ROI [return on investment] to cost justify that new PBX system versus the system we were running before, which allowed us to hire a couple of additional employees to run the PBX operation based on the cost savings.

We've also implemented a new land management application that will allow us to track new development, new housing and new businesses that have moved into the city, and to ease the permitting and inspection process.

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor