Sometimes, when you do something right it just feels…well, right. That feeling was confirmed October 16 when the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) announced that the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) received a 2019 NASCIO State IT Recognition Award for its project submission, “Identification and Removal of Hazardous Materials during Wildfire Response.”
According to DTSC, the project was created in response to the fires that ravaged California beginning in 2017. DTSC’s Office of Environmental Information Management and Emergency Response Unit began collaborating on a prototype that would deliver an innovative Emergency Response Solution. It included a series of geospatial dashboards, mobile field-ready applications and web-based mapping tools to replace its outdated paper-based checklists and inventory forms.
The project’s GIS application improved public information, transparency and stakeholder engagement value, which became evident quickly after the department posted the status on a parcel-by-parcel map of household hazardous waste cleanup sites. This gave workers greater efficiency and offered the public a visual update on the progress. The improved business process gave a new way to keep field crews, the public and other organizations apprised of each day’s work.
DTSC Acting Director Meredith Williams said, “We are immensely proud of the important work our Emergency Response team performs when disasters strike. Governor Newsom has taken decisive action to strengthen California’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities to mitigate wildfires.”
According to Williams, 25 percent of the state’s population lives in areas at very high or extreme risk from wildfires. “Anything that increases the team’s efficiency helps people affected by these tragedies get back in their homes faster,” she said. “Our Office of Environmental Information Management’s innovative solution has done just that and we couldn’t be more pleased that their contribution has been recognized.”
Besides confirming the value of this great project, the NASCIO awards showcase the use of information technology to address critical business challenges, better connect residents to government services, improve business processes and create new opportunities that improve the lives of residents. DTSC’s submission was one selected for an award out of a pool of more than 130 submissions from states across the U.S.