Sharon Cates-Williams and Doug Miller
March 30, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT
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On Friday, March 30th, we had the distinct pleasure of hosting the CIO/Comissioner and Director of MIS, respectively, of Suffolk County. The indefatigueable Sharon Cates-Williams, and the engaging Doug Miller. Doug spoke about the work the county has done in the GIS field, creating a very rich database of geolocated information and making it available to all the municipalities and first responders in the field. The applications are manifold, from helping tax assessors make accurate assessments, ( groans from the audience… ) to helping first responders possess critical knowledge on residents with special needs. Fire departments can now have maps of their districts with an overlay of the houses that contain folks with disabilities, an extremely helpful feature. Doug also detailed some of the automated tools that the police are using, such as OCR camera that scans license plates as a cruiser drives, checking those plates against the State’s databases for outstanding warrants and other issues, and then notifying the officer that there’s something to be attended to around him.
Ms. Cates-Williams came to speak about the Long Island Wi-Fi project, which has been a focus of my attention since the county executive mentioned it in his state of the county speech in 2006. Her vision for the project, is an outdoor focused network with three tiers of service, a free tier and two paid, higher speed grades, is one that enables mobile county workers to be more efficient, and timelier in their responses to changing conditions, with the ability to stay connected to data on the road. Department of Social Services workers and Probation officers were just two of the departments where she illustrated the benefits of mobility.
She detailed the steps involved in the county issuing the RFP, first producing a lightweight RFI to gauge interest, and based on the healthy group of responses, spurred the formation of the committee, the addition of Nassau County to the project, and the RFP’s issuance. At the February 8th pre-proposal conference, it was evident that the project had attracted many of the major players in the industry. Sharon is expecting some good responses that address the issues of security, privacy, and a full coverage requirement.
Of course, the LIMBA audience peppered her with questions, on both the technology and business sides. Ernie’s question in absentia was “How much will this cost?”, and the answer is that it won’t cost the taxpayers anything because it is being built with private money and there will be a free tier of service. A quick tutorial about the differences between WiMAX and Wi-Fi was gone through, and discussions about mounting assets and real estate also ensued.
It was a tremendous coup for our group to have Sharon and Doug come and speak about these vital initiatives to an engaged audience, where at LIMBA, you learn something every time you go.