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Team California

Ronald Ralph, Tom Lupo, John Laird, Rita Gass, Tim Garza, Phil Minas

Ronald Ralph, Tom Lupo, John Laird, Rita Gass, Tim Garza, Phil Minas
California’s four-year dry spell — that’s putting it mildly — has been the most severe on record in more than a century. Since the drought began in 2011, the state’s reservoirs and groundwater reserves have dropped to perilously low levels, and millions of trees have died in parched forests.

This dangerous mix has created a resource management challenge unlike any before as the state has balanced the needs of more than 38 million people, a diverse and growing economy, and its vibrant and iconic environment.

A focus on technology as a service within the California Natural Resources Agency and the departments under it (including the California Conservation Corps; Fish and Wildlife; Parks and Recreation; Forestry and Fire Protection; and Water Resources), has enabled the state’s scientists, engineers, water managers and other personnel to do their job more effectively during an important time, said Tim Garza, California Natural Resources Agency IT director and Department of Water Resources CIO.

Using innovative technology, the agencies and departments are strategically positioned to act as service providers driving a “three C” approach via development of capacity, capabilities and consumerization.

“For example, we’ve created at the Resources Agency an internal private cloud that has allowed us to triple our capacity for technology and capabilities, and at the same time maintain and reduce our capital and operational costs,” Garza said. “More importantly we’ve been able to create an environment that is more conducive to meeting the increasing and high-volume demands placed on our critical program areas, like drought.”

It’s a collaborative effort that has resulted in an IT environment that’s allowing California to more effectively deliver drought-focused applications as needed, said Garza. This has reached everything from better analytics for water data to more responsive IT infrastructure for crews working in the field. During the drought, it’s been essential to deliver value anywhere, anytime, anyplace the user needs it.

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Matt Williams is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine.