Credit: Albemarle County

Albemarle County is a proud recipient of the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) 2016 Achievement Award! The County was recognized for its submission, “Using Advanced Technology for Public Safety at Foxfield Races.” VACo received 91 entries and Albemarle County is one of 29 award recipients.

For nearly ten years, Albemarle County’s Department of Information Technology (IT) has provided networking and technical support for the various agencies deployed to the annual spring Foxfield Races, a high-profile event which attracts over 25,000 visitors and involves multiple public safety agencies. The requirement for a robust network and advanced technology tools has increased as attendance has grown over the years.

Beginning several months prior to the event, staff from the Albemarle County IT and Police Departments, the Regional Emergency Communications Center, and local school division all collaborate to setup and coordinate what has become a very well-run event staffed by a multi-jurisdictional task force of police and rescue agencies with advanced technology providing efficiencies not available through any other system. Albemarle County’s IT Department assists with the setup and operation of the multi-faceted network and management tools. The network design includes a DSL connection for remote magistrate operations, two LTE networks, and a point-to-point wireless network which supplies WIFI and back-up resources at the site. Additionally, Public Safety staff at the event utilize a mobile data collection tool to track incidents and process arrests, and coordinate the operation.

The overall system is innovative in the way it connects multiple agencies and provides mobile access to many services. It is funded through public safety and set up and tested by IT staff, reducing the overall cost of running the system. The system continues to improve with each year and can easily be adapted for use by other localities to help them manage their remote events. Together with its public safety partners, Albemarle County’s IT Department continues to improve the process of public safety implementation at remote events.

“I am encouraged by the creativity Albemarle’s IT Department has shown in using technology to address a complex and multi-faceted challenge,” said Albemarle County Executive Tom Foley. “There are many public safety considerations with the Foxfield Races but through the use of advanced technology, the event is conducted without serious incident. This award demonstrates our organizational commitment to collaboration within and outside of our organization and reinforces our emphasis on using technology to improve services and boost efficiencies.”

“We are excited to announce the 2016 winners, and I want to thank all who participated,” said Dean Lynch, VACo Executive Director. “This is the 14th year of the Achievement Awards Program, and we couldn’t be more proud of the innovative work done by our member counties. It seems we are faced with more complex challenges every year, but Virginia’s counties have found creative ways to overcome them.”

The VACo Achievement Awards is a competitive program open to local government members of the association. Held annually, it recognizes local government programs in awards criteria that include innovation, cooperation and model practices. The award was presented to the County by Gage Harter, VACo Director of Communications, at the October 5th Board of Supervisors meetings.