Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Morris County has been cited as one of four examples from across the country of “innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness in the areas of electronic government,” in Facing our Future, a report by a volunteer leadership group analyzing the long-term fiscal challenges facing all levels of New Jersey government in the next five years.
In the report, MCUrgent, Morris County’s shared emergency information network, was named as an example of how technology was essential in modernizing government operations and enabling government to meet 21st century challenge and change.
MCUrgent is used by the Morris County Office of Emergency Management and municipalities that have been trained to quickly disseminate information to the public during widespread emergencies.
MCUrgent messages on Twitter and Facebook had more than 250,000 reads during Hurricane Irene. Questions about shelters, water and other needs posted on Facebook and Twitter were answered quickly and publicly, improving access to important information.
The Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders has offered the emergency information network to each of the 39 towns in the county as a shared service. Morris County trains municipal personnel who can then post their own emergency information about such incidents as power outages, rising river levels and emergency shelters in their respective communities on MCUrgent social networks.
The Facing our Future report selected MCUrgent because:
●It shares official emergency information from multiple towns in one ‘stream’ during a multi-jurisdictional emergency
●It utilizes the power of social media – Twitter, Facebook, text messaging – and desktops, laptops, tablet devices and phones
●It is free to towns and constituents
●It captures information at its source
●It is guided by Freeholder sponsorship and the Morris County Office of Emergency Management
●The design time was approximately 1 month; setup was completed in approximately 2 days
●The Board of Freeholders believes it is applicable in every New Jersey county and can be replicated for school districts
●It moves government directly into the new paradigm of communications
MCUrgent was named as an example of innovation in electronic government along with Albany, Oregon, the state of Washington and a national approach to using social media in policing – readily adaptable to local governments and for other government services.
Also singled out in the report was the Government Efficiency Movement, or GEM, a municipality-led initiative in Morris County looking to identify and implement new approaches to municipal cost-cutting by rethinking the nature of local government structures.
The report, Facing our Future, was developed at the request of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, an independent non-profit organization that promotes effective philanthropy throughout the state. The leadership group was comprised of individuals with extensive senior experience in state government including former New Jersey Attorney General Robert Del Tufo and former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Deborah Poritz.
The group used research, collaboration and collective problem solving to identify priorities and determine how New Jersey can fund those priorities to deliver effective and efficient government services.
The complete report in available online at www.cnjg.org/FacingOurFuture.