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East County Wednesday, Apr. 21, 2010 7 years ago

Meet Manatee County's top techie

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — Even if you don’t know East County resident Michael McLaughlin, you know his work.

As the new director of Manatee County’s information services department, McLaughlin is responsible for overseeing every piece of technology that assists the county in providing services to its residents. That includes everything from the equipment that orchestrates the timing of traffic signals and emergency response equipment to the computers servers that back up data to all the county’s departments.

Chances are, if it plugs into a wall or connects to the Internet, it’s been across McLaughlin’s desk.

“All of them depend on technology to be able to operate efficiently and effectively,” McLaughlin said. “Anything you ever wanted to do with a computer to run a county is what we have a responsibility for. It’s a very interesting and challenging job.”

When the county finishes constructing its new traffic management system, which will control about 150 signalized intersections, McLaughlin and his team will be responsible for keeping that operation running, too, although the public works department actually will dictate the timing of the lights.

As McLaughlin led the way through the county’s new Emergency Operations Center, he stopped to point out where 911 calls are taken and dispatched and a room where media is housed during disasters, among other features.

“This is the heartbeat of our IT capabilities,” he said.

McLaughlin said he feels his responsibilities have become even greater as the county works to reduce costs and provide more efficient services to residents. How technology can further those efforts — without reducing the quality of service — is the question that drives McLaughlin on a daily basis, he said.

“What I’m excited about is the type of technology my team works on or has the possibility of improving the county’s operations and services while at the same time lowering costs,” he said.

McLaughlin, who lives in Braden Oaks with his wife, Patrice, graduated from Southeast High School and attended Manatee Community College before transferring to the University of Florida for a degree in electrical engineering. He worked in private industry for years, working his way up to vice president before moving back to Florida to be closer to family and joining Manatee County’s ranks in 2006.

Here, he began work as a network integrator, planning the expansion of infrastructure for the county’s IT department.

McLaughlin said he enjoys knowing his work directly impacts residents.

“You get to see the application of technology in a completely different perspective,” he said. “It’s much more connected to the community. I get exposed to all aspects of the county’s operations.”

McLaughlin had served as the interim director of information services since the fall before assuming his new title April 3.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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