Virtual Alabama Empowers First Responders

Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications demonstrates its EOC on wheels.

Virtual Alabama Empowers First Responders Stock photo

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York State officials at Government Technology Conference East said government employment rules must adapt to the needs of a new generation of workers -- those 20-somethings collectively known as Millennials -- but agreed making the changes won't be easy.

At an executive leadership event focused on attracting Millennials to government, New York Civil Service Commissioner Nancy Groenwegen said Millennials usually want flexible hours and cutting-edge technology, which can be hard for highly structured state agencies.

Still, with one-third of the state work force poised to retire in 10 years, state agencies must react, according to Groenwegen.

Some changes already are under way. New York's Civil Service Commission created new recruiting tools and is working with universities to direct more graduates toward government, she said. The commission is also surveying agency managers on appropriate methods for implementing remote work. And agencies are modifying rules to allow greater use of social networking tools by state employees.

--By Steve Towns, Editor Hot List

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Virtual Alabama Empowers First Responders

James Walker, director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, wowed attendees at the 9th Annual Technologies for Critical Incident Conference and Exposition, demonstrating Virtual Alabama.
Virtual Alabama lets emergency managers and law enforcement officials share images of the state.
More than 1,000 government agencies and 3,000 users now have access to computerized images of businesses, schools, private residences, surveillance systems, gas pumps and other resources that help first responders and officials.

For example, homeland security officials can assess damaged residences to give FEMA accurate and quick estimates with real-time images.

--By Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor

A Visit From Chicago's EOC on Wheels

Chicago -- The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) showcased its Unified Command Vehicle at OpCom 2008, a mobile technology event sponsored by CDWG. The vehicle is a mobile emergency operations center. Responders can, among other things, use the technology-laden vehicle to patch different radio communications systems to one another. The OEMC also features a monitor that displays incoming and outgoing flights, a technology Chicago used during Hurricane Katrina to monitor incoming refugees. GIS software offers responders building floor plans, and the vehicle taps into the central business district's 900-camera surveillance network.

Jim Argiropoulos, first deputy of the OEMC, gave guided tours of the vehicle. He said the vehicle includes a spatial database that allows emergency crews to perform real-time blast and plume modeling at the scene of an incident.

--Andy Opsahl, Features Editor


Andy Opsahl

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.

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