Kitsap County has created a single, end-to-end reporting and response workflow system. When a citizen, emergency responder, or county staff member reports an accidental or illicit spill, the county’s response team receives all the information they need to prepare a response and track their efforts through to completion.
“The details portion gives us an explanation of what’s going on,” said Gallardo. “We also ask the requester or reporter to let us know what material was spilled and the estimated quantity.”
The data, including user-submitted photos and location data, is then automatically fed to OpenGov, where it automatically creates a service request for tracking and response purposes. The requests are then vetted in OpenGov, where staff uses the data to create work orders as necessary. When the issue has been resolved, administrative staff can provide feedback in OpenGov, which is routed back to the original requester, enabling bi-directional communications.
“We train our staff that before they close the task in OpenGov, they need to put in a comment saying they have fixed the issue. The original requester will then receive an email with those comments, and then a second email saying we have closed the request.”
FINANCIAL + ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING
The integrated reporting and tracking enabled by the county’s integration of OpenGov also allows Gallardo’s team to document their response and any financial or environmental damage that occurred to meet the Department of Ecology’s latest reporting requirements.
“We can export directly from OpenGov to the Department of Ecology spills website.”
“We can export directly from OpenGov to the new Department of Ecology spills website at the end of the year,” said Gallardo. “It also tracks the labor, equipment, and materials used for the spill cleanup.”
Such quantifiable cost-impact data allows Kitsap County to seek reimbursement from the violator and to estimate budget, staff, and equipment needs each year.
“It also helps us know whether or not we need to do more educational outreach to prevent future illicit spills,” said Gallardo. “Sometimes it’s people dumping paint down the drain or things like that, so it gives us an idea of how our outreach is working in other areas and if we need to up that outreach.”
ENHANCED REGIONAL COORDINATION
As Gallardo and her team know all too well, hazardous materials don’t follow political boundaries and they know nothing of jurisdictions. If a spill crosses regional boundaries, Kitsap County must be able to coordinate response efforts with neighboring authorities. Gallardo relies on data from within the system to enable data sharing and expedited responses for the protection of the area’s shared environment and resources.
“Our permit [with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)] requires jurisdictions to know where water enters and exits their area. The information is useful for regional coordination of projects and spill response. In Kitsap County, we have memorandums of understandings with the incorporated municipalities for our regional spills hotlines well as data sharing. We can also use this shared information to assist during an emergency, if needed, for neighboring communities.”
According to Gallardo, if there were a spill on the county border, their integrated system is set up to notify both jurisdictions.
“We could get staff out from both [jurisdictions] to assist with the spill so that it doesn’t become a bigger deal than it needs to be,” said Gallardo.
STREAMLINED CITIZEN REQUEST MANAGEMENT
In an era of digital-first communications, Gallardo believes that the need for online request submissions will continue to grow, replacing more traditional forms of request communications, such as hotlines, emails and in-person requests, which makes the need for a single data repository that much more vital.
“I think public works directors are looking to try to figure out a way to branch between their roads and their traffic and their sewer and stormwater,” said Gallardo. “At least here, that was our goal. We wanted one unified system.”
Today, a unified system is exactly what they have, and their ability to protect their environment has never been stronger.
Continue Reading: Part One