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Innovation and What It Means

I consider innovation to be any technology including Information Technology systems that can be implemented to save time, create efficiency and return a positive return on investment (ROI) to the organization implementing it.

Please remember throughout our 10 articles contained in the two series published in this outlet that “time is money” and that employee’ motivation and customer satisfaction is critical to good ratings when taxpayers contact governments for assistance in various matters. Getting information quickly in most instances is now possible thanks to electronic retrieval and proper programming.

The below suggestions are just a few examples amongst hundreds that can spark your interest in making your organization more efficient and can stretch the taxpayer’s dollar further. Thinking outside the box has been my intent over these two series. We need to drive change and begin to analyze the cost savings which many managers think are just through personnel layoffs.


Video Conferencing Secured Viewing Between Two or More Sites

A. Interactive presentations in high definition for training and collaboration can now be done and the costs of travel may not be needed:

  1. In many cases the costs of planes, trains and vehicles may not be required as many employees may want to stay home with their families yet receive the benefits of a certificate and training to further their careers. They may also want to collaborate with colleagues visually but not spend wasted time and high expenses for the travel that it may require.
  2. Training Where a Certificate and Credits May Be Given but a Participant Signature Is Needed – Once the course is finished, the personnel taking the course can sign their certificates on line at their facility if it is needed and a PDF copy issued to them via Email.
  3. Signature of the Participant Not Needed – Name can just be printed at the top of the certificate and the instructor signs the certificate electronically prior to the PDF being created.
  4. I have often thought in the criminal justice system how discussions between a District Attorney and a police (law enforcement) officer going over reports to be presented in Court and other matters could more efficiently be done via video conferencing on both ends and save all the travel time and possible parking problems.
  5. Government Agencies Who Have Financial Planners Where Main Offices Are Out of State – Documents that are date and time sensitive can be prepared at the main office of their financial planner even if the government agency is on the East Coast and the main office of the financial planner is in a Midwest office thousands of miles away. The customer can ask any questions regarding the transaction prior to signing and the local representative can also be part of a 3 way video conference.

The document(s) appear on the screen remotely for an “electronic” signature(s) which can be in different secured forms (digital signatures, secure fax, user id passwords requiring a biometric sign on, or even using an electronic signature from a remote device like in a grocery or retail store) done by the party accepting the documents.

Seeing people face to face over video conferencing and possibly even recording the entire video conference and placing it into your document management system can be done if legal or government regulations require this.

There are hundreds of more examples where video conferencing can be used and the savings can be documented.


RFID Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID) 

A. This is similar to bar codes which many people today are familiar with. However, RFID has radio frequency signals embedded in it. More businesses are now doing a lot more research in this area making it even more efficient as technology grows. My feeling is that RFID has come into its own over the last 5 years. I look at it as bar codes on steroids. Each have a very specific purpose and one may be better than the other depending upon the application needed.

When I attended a conference in 2011 on Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID), I was sold on its viability after hearing 5 major companies such as Wal-Mart, JC Penny, Macys, Carnival Cruise and others on one central stage in front of more than 500 people cooperating with each other so that this technology can be used for their Supply Chain Inventory.

The basic principle is to have multiple businesses create pieces of a product and ship to one another using RFID Tags and ship to a business where everything is assembled. It finally arrives in a Wal-Mart or JC Penny with an RFID tag as an appliance, clothing, etc. where the information in the RFID tag can be used for cash register scanning, restocking of shelves and taking of inventory quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily. It has shown itself to be able to increase efficiency and more than pay for itself with cutting costs.


B. Some areas in government where I see immediate returns:

  1. Law Enforcement Evidence Facilities – By creating regional centers where thousands of items could be kept for evidence and having them centrally staffed 7 days per week (hours to depend upon demand for service) RFID tags can be placed on each item and inventory taken daily if needed. When a law enforcement person brings evidence into the facility, it is immediately tagged and placed into a master records management system which has all metadata descriptors including a bin number.

If any piece of evidence is removed without it being updated to be moved into the master records management system it will immediately set off an alarm when the person takes the item though the exit door. The evidence personnel can immediately react to the alarm. The alarm is also put into the master records management system. As a recommendation, I would also recommend video surveillance cameras so the entire sequence of events could be placed as a video document into the master records management system (document management portion).

Evidence Moved to the District Attorney, Prosecutor Area – A separate bin number for the prosecutor is assigned within the master records management system for the accepted evidence. Again, when it is taken to court or to another area for review it is checked out automatically and each step is recorded in the master records management system.

Drugs and other high value evidence are very carefully dealt with by having the evidence weighed or counted for every single item as it leaves and returns. By breaking the items into separate items and each having its own property number, bin number and RFID (radio frequency identification tag) the system will detect at each juncture if the item was tampered with.

Additionally as stated above, each alarm and movement is logged into the main records management system so this will appear on the system. The evidence sequence tracking gives the checks and balances needed which can be seen by authorized personnel.

2.  Capital Items – For any item having a value of $100 or more I feel the item should have an RFID tag. Because many managers feel that inventory counting is so hard to manage and time consuming , many organizations only want items worth over $1000 or more in their capital inventory system. In 2013, because of the ease and efficiency new technology can offer many more items can be accounted for with the ease of electronic RFID tags transmitting the information to a central computer system.

Each day, week, month, quarter or longer an inventory can be taken as it will wake up the RFID signal and transmit to the master data base and insure that all items are present.

Loss Prevention also is enhanced as any item which is not authorized and leaves a specific area will sound an alarm along with video surveillance in place to review.


Biometrics – By definition, I mean this to be fingerprints or palm prints.

A. Signing Onto Your Computer Terminal – We have all heard that my password is taped underneath of my desk. Everyone knows it. Or, the manager says, “sign these documents for me and use my electronic signature in the system, here is my password.”

If the signature was ever challenged in Court the case could easily be lost. Security and rules were completely circumvented to know who really signed the document as required by organization policy.

The way you can get full compliance is to use a sign on by having the proper person place his/her fingerprint or palm print onto a device and then having a hash of numbers and letters appear or a hand written signature of your name appear that signifies the signature is validated through a biometric secure sign on.

B. Entry into Secured Doors, Biometrics or Photo ID Cards? – Ask yourself is it safer to have your entry by matching your finger print or palm print or use what so many think is safe today by having a Photo ID with a stripe coded insert made? How hard is it to lose your laminated photo ID card, or someone says I forgot my card can you loan me yours to go to the 14th floor?

I doubt if you would cut off your thumb to say use my thumb print and go up to the 14th floor. Biometrics is much safer and very hard to duplicate.

Again, I would recommend video surveillance once entry is made to also verify the identity of the person that has entered.


Your comments and insights are always welcome.

To view the first, second, third, or fourth articles in this miniseries, please click on the links.


Author: Robert Morrison has extensive experience both in management and information technology. He feels that government is actually big business and both must conduct itself in similar ways. He is a former CIO, Deputy Business Administrator and Deputy Public Safety Director in the local government sector. He is also a member of the Central Pennsylvania chapter of ASPA (American Society for Public Administration).

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