Mississippi Parks Apps United with Common Interface

A technology upgrade at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks makes operations easier, more transparent and cheaper for the state.

by / January 25, 2013

Consolidating data and business processes into a common departmentwide system cleared the way for efficiency and savings in Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) streamlined business processes by adopting the ACTIVEWorks Outdoors technology platform that combined multiple applications into one interface. According to the vendor, ACTIVE Network, MDWFP is the first agency of its kind to implement such a system.

Combining systems allowed the department to eliminate some now unneeded equipment and manage the department's services with greater ease, MDWFP chief information systems officer Curtis Thornhill said. Before the upgrade, completed in June 2012, the department had multiple applications -- a point of sale (POS) application for managing hunting and fishing licenses and state lake privileges, and another for handling state park reservations. The new integrated tool  combines those two applications along with the boat registration and boat titling systems.

Now all the data is built into one system, with a common back-end graphical user interface that enables transparency across the department. MDWFP is managing the upgrade without hiring new staff or conducting training for existing staff. According to Thornhill, departmental knowledge of the old systems translated well into the new system.

A search for a new vendor began after the vendors for the two old systems were acquired by ACTIVE Network. The company wanted an agency to try the new system and the timing was perfect for the MDWFP. The department agreed to a five-year contract with the option for two one-year extensions that cover support, maintenance and equipment. 

“This was kind of a twofold process where the vendor was asking us to be the guinea pig and we agreed,” Thornhill said. “It was a win-win situation for the state and the vendor as well. ... We'd already tossed it around in house of what great benefit it would be to the agency and to our constituents as far as managing databases if we had everything merged together and under one application to manage those records.”

The integrated platform will save the state money in man-hours, but there will be additional savings when the contract comes up for renewal, since the new system requires less equipment. Built-in support for mobile device and kiosk accessibility, Thornhill explained, will come in handy when the MDWFP executes plans to install about 100 kiosks around the state that connect to the system.

One of Mississippi's state parks, currently rebuilding due to Hurricane Katrina-induced damage, is working on an agreement with MDWFP that would leverage their new system along with touchscreen devices to enable rapid payment processing.
Photo from Shutterstock

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.

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