As more people access and engage with King County services, technology plays an increasingly important role in our work to build the best-run government in America.
Technology supports the County's efforts to provide schools and libraries with a state-of-the-art fiber optic network, offer online election ballots to military and civilian voters living overseas, and reach on-the-go Metro bus riders with helpful text messages about their commute.
Here are a few ways King County is leveraging information technology:
Cloud data storage saves money
King County is responsible for maintaining and protecting the data of more than 2 million residents. Every day, we back up over 20 TBs of information, much of which must be highly protected due to various privacy laws. Instead of spending an estimated $1.1 million to update our old data storage infrastructure, we replaced the backup system with a new automated method using cloud technology. This saves $200,000 a year in reduced operating costs and won a Best Practice Award in 2015 from Amazon Web Services.
Regional Data Center saves energy
King County’s Regional Data Center provides a unique opportunity for local governments, school districts, and non-profits to partner with us and experience the benefits of a top-tier data center without the high cost. The data center received a $20,000 green initiative incentive rebate from the City of Seattle in June 2013 for energy conservation.
Mobile Flood App >
King County's Flood Warning app provides Apple, Android, and Windows Phone users with information for multiple rivers in King County. The app shows current river flows, flood stage data and forecasts, plus real-time flood phases and graphics that make it easy to see several days of river data and forecasts.
Health Information Technology (HIT) project
King County launched an Electronic Health Records system to provide many critical benefits to Public Health patients, which allows our staff to attain more efficient care. The first clinic went live successfully in December 2013.
Support of military and overseas civilian voters
King County implemented a system to allow military personnel and civilians living overseas to access and mark up an election ballot online. This project support’s the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) pursuant to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
Energy-tracking software in our buildings
King County is the largest government in the U.S. to pilot the same energy-tracking system that Microsoft uses to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions at many of its buildings. The software will provide maintenance staff with real-time analytics that help them operate the facilities more efficiently, spending less time identifying the cause of a heating or air-conditioning problem, for example, and more time fixing it.
I-Net fiber optic network
The Institutional Network (I-Net) is a state-of-the-art fiber optic network provided by King County, supporting more than 300 public service facilities such as schools, public health centers, fire stations, Harborview Medical Center, and the King County Library System. I-Net delivers high-speed broadband services and connects organizations to a reliable and affordable network for voice, data, and video.
Thin client deployment at WorkSource-Renton
KCIT received a “CIO 100 Award” from CIO Magazine for generating business value through creative uses of technology. At the Renton WorkSource location, which connects residents to job opportunities, old computers were strung together with cast-off parts and ingenuity, but they were expensive to maintain and at risk of failure almost every day. Thin Client technology allowed us to replace WorkSoure’s aging PCs and enable a greater degree of flexibility in their computer labs.
Digital communications and social media >
King County’s award-winning website has improved navigation and search features to help people find information with fewer clicks. King County's 180+ social media pages engage nearly 250,000 fans and followers, and our email and SMS communications reach 1 in 9 County residents.
Public Health's successful text messaging campaign helped King County enroll record numbers of residents in affordable health care plans. Additionally, Metro bus riders are receiving text messages about specific bus routes to help them plan their daily commutes, and parks visitors can get trail maps sent to their smartphone by texting a specific keyword.
eAppeals for property valuations
Homeowners can appeal their property valuations electronically, using our innovative eAppeals website. The National Association of Counties (NACO) recognized King County with an Achievement Award for eAppeals, a web-based app that allows people to look up comparable sales and submit that information along with the appeal. More than 30% of King County’s property valuation appeals are now being filed online.
Computing in the cloud
In an effort to integrate cloud platforms into our service-based culture, King County is embracing the cloud across a number of areas, including communications, productivity apps, and team collaboration. We have vastly modernized the way our teams work together, giving employees the ability to do their jobs more effectively, on multiple devices, and from a variety of locations. The reduced infrastructure costs associated with King County’s move to the cloud result in annual savings of $700,000.
Empowering a mobile workforce >
Mobile employees such as park attendants, property assessors, and animal services investigators can retrieve and share maps or building plans using their mobile devices instead of connecting to the King County network or returning to the office. Project managers are viewing vendors’ demos from the privacy of their own desks and sharing feedback with review teams to strengthen our scoring protocol and ensure that scores are consistent and fair among vendors.
KCIT's move to Office 365 is providing more than 10,000 employees with up-to-date business productivity tools that help them communicate and collaborate across departments, in the office, and in the field. Many processes are becoming more efficient for our staff and residents. For example, the simple ability to conduct meetings online and share desktops and recordings for meeting notes has revolutionized the way many County employees look at business meetings.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
King County embraces the global “Consumerization of IT” trend because allowing staff to use their personal mobile devices instead of County-issued devices enhances productivity and supports a technology-savvy workforce. There are also cost savings associated with reducing the number of mobile devices the County pays for.