The town’s Information Technology Department is a finalist for a prestigious award that IT Director Kathi Pletzke calls “the Emmys for computer geeks like us.”
Just how big of a deal is it?
A town Fire Rescue Department software application is in a Computerworld Honors Program Safety & Security category with the likes of Hewlett-Packard and the FBI.
Computerworld, an IT magazine, has named a town firefighter tactical information software app for iPads as one of 268 finalists in 11 different categories (from 29 different countries) for its annual Honors Program awards.
The town’s IT Department, in collaboration with the Fire Rescue Department, created the software application in 2010 that allows firefighters access to tactical information with a tap on an iPad.
Until recently, Longboat Key firefighter/paramedics had to flip through a large three-ring binder to get the information that would help them make split-second decisions.
The binders included information such as stairwell locations, building construction details and the gallons per minute that a fire hydrant could pump.
But, because of new software application the town developed, firefighters can now access what they need on an iPad.
The awards “honor visionary applications of information technology moving businesses forward and benefiting society,” according to the Computerworld website. Winners will be announced June 3, in Washington, D.C.
“We’re ecstatic,” Pletzke said. “It’s an honor to even be considered for an award of this stature.”
It’s not the first time the town’s application has received praise.
The Florida Local Government Information Systems Association recognized the software as “Best Application Serving a Public Organization’s Business Needs” at a July 2012 conference, where Pletzke demonstrated the software to more than 100 people.
Several expressed interest in purchasing the software for their municipalities, which could lead to a new source of revenue for the town.
The IT Department has developed similar programs for Longboat Key police, who now complete police reports electronically in the field.
The programs could cut costs, but, more importantly, they make it easier for firefighters and police to do their jobs, giving them more time to spend helping people in the community.
Town Manager Dave Bullock told the Longboat Key Town Commission at its regular meeting Monday night he’s proud of the IT Department for its accomplishment.
“It’s really clever to see staff figure out how to invent modern interfaces,” Bullock said.