Press Release

Press Release # 007
Friday, October 16, 2009


Department of Education’s Achievement Reporting and Innovation System Network Named as Overall Winner Award Winners Reflect Improved Efficiencies and Cost Savings through Technology Enhancement

Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave presented the 2009 Excellence in Technology Awards to City IT management and staff in a ceremony held last night at the Brooklyn Marriott.  The Excellence in Technology Award Program (ETAP) honors the very best of New York City's IT staff and projects each year.  The ETAPs are conducted as part of the annual New York City Technology Forum, an event for and about local government, to foster discussion and dialogue on best practices in the use of IT as a strategic tool for managers, executives and policy makers.  The 2009 ETAP winners include staff members from over three dozen New York City agencies, with each award-winning program aligned to one of the citywide themes outlined in PlanIT, the City's technology strategy for coordinated, effective and efficient citywide IT implementation.

“Each year across the City of New York, IT staff members develop and implement significant new programs for our residents, businesses, employees and visitors – empowering them to be more safe and healthy; to get great educations and lead rewarding lives; and to be able to access more efficient and sustainable City services anytime and anywhere,” said DoITT Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave.  “When we talk about Excellence in Technology, what we're really talking about is excellence in providing service to New Yorkers, about putting information at their fingertips, and about setting a standard of technological innovation for others to follow.  I congratulate all ETAP winners and anticipate all their great work to come.”

The Overall ETAP for 2009, chosen as the project that exemplifies the best attributes of leadership, technical implementation, innovation and teamwork, was presented to the Department of Education's Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (AIRS).  ARIS is a first-of-its-kind, integrated, web-based data management tool that collects and analyzes information about student academic performance to help educators and parents make smart decisions that improve the academic progress of New York City students and schools.  ARIS consolidates data from a variety of systems, providing a comprehensive view of student performance and assessment information.  It also streamlines existing and new support tools to help educators determine accountability and broadens social networks, promoting the sharing of knowledge across all New York City schools.

With detailed records tracking student progress over time, ARIS also enables educators to shape strategies and teaching techniques to target individual student needs, and provides teachers with a secure online platform to share what they have learned by publishing documents and partaking in discussions and blogs with other educators facing similar challenges.  Representing a conceptual leap in education practice, ARIS can serve as a model for other major urban school districts engaged in addressing the needs and issues related to improving student performance.

Other outstanding projects and individuals were also chosen as 2008 ETAP winners for in the following categories:

Commissioner's Award for Technology-Driven Business Transformation (2)
Richard Falkenrath – New York City Police Department

Richard A. Falkenrath, Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism at the New York City Police Department (NYPD), is responsible for the strategy, policy, and operations of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau.  Dr. Falkenrath is recognized for his vision and leadership in the development of the Domain Awareness System (DAS), which is the technological foundation of the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative (LMSI) and the Securing the Cities Program (STC), which equips agencies in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with state-of-the-art mobile radiation-detection equipment to protect against the threat of an improvised nuclear or a radiological dispersal device.  With Police Commissioner Kelly, Dr. Falkenrath designed the DAS to process an unprecedented amount of real-time sensor telemetry and analytics, and to integrate multiple data streams from select intelligence and crime-related information systems.

Cultural Management Planning System – Department of Cultural Affairs

Prior to 2009, the Department of Cultural Affairs relied upon various databases, spreadsheets, and electronic and paper documents to conduct its daily business operations.  Today, the Cultural Management Planning System (COMPASS) optimizes DCLA's intra- and inter-agency efficiency and effectiveness for data-sharing and management.  This centralized solution provides a single profile for each organization that DCLA has funded or worked with in any capacity, supplying a record of all relevant information regarding its interactions.  As an example, program staff recently logged more than 1,000 consultations with grant applicants requesting help on the online application – the first time the agency has been able to measure the magnitude of the technical assistance provided during the grant period.  As a result of its now automated and standardized methods for recording and accessing grants, projects, and organizational data, DCLA has reduced paper-based, manual, and redundant processes.

Best Application Serving an Agency's Business Needs (2)
Advanced Water Metering Infrastructure – Department of Environmental Protection

The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project has enabled the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to automate its meter reading capabilities and to improve customer services for more than eight million New Yorkers.  Before the Automated Meter Reading (AMR) technology was available, Con Edison manually recorded meter readings across the City, and customers received paper bills every three months – only 85% of which were based on actual readings.  A more precise bill now provides customers with information on how to more efficiently utilize water resources, leading to reductions in water consumption and their subsequent water bills.  The new system improves the speed and accuracy in which meter readings are provided to DEP and provides alerts when meters are not working properly.  When complete (approximately 100,000 customers now have meters read by this technology) AMR will make New York City the largest city in the world to use wireless water metering.  It is projected save over $3.5 million in meter reading costs per year when fully implemented, while providing daily consumption data to DEP and its customers.

Asbestos Reporting and Tracking System – Mayor's Office, Mayor's Office of Operations, DEP

The Asbestos Reporting and Tracking System (ARTS) improves coordination, communication, and transparency for asbestos abatement projects throughout the City.  Through ARTS, DEP will collect more data about asbestos abatement jobs, review jobs in collaboration with the Department of Buildings (DOB), and provide key site safety information to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).  Additionally, ARTS will improve the experience of industry members, like asbestos abatement contractors and filers, through its electronic approval/objection process, as well as through increased guidance from, and interaction with, the agencies with jurisdiction over these projects.

ARTS includes a public website that enables applicants to file and monitor all abatement jobs and allows plan reviewers and managers from two agencies independently review applications and accompanying documentation.  ARTS' user-friendly application process enables applicants to submit filings online and automatically checks for errors, geo-references site locations, and confirms contractor licenses.  ARTS also enables applicants to store and track all documentation relating to their abatement jobs through every step of abatement – from application to close-out.

Demonstrated Leadership in Management of Information Technology
James Festa – Financial Information Services Agency

During his more than 30 years at the Financial Information Services Agency (FISA), James Festa has managed all of the mission-critical information processing environments and support activities for the City's financial and payroll applications systems.  These include the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS – the first financial management system for the City), the current Financial Management System (FMS), the Payroll Management System (PMS), the Pension Payroll Management Systems (PPMS), Automated Personnel System (NYCAPS) and more.  Among his considerable accomplishments are implementation of a citywide call center, installation of new agency routers, firewalls, workstations, printers, and servers across approximately 80 agencies to support FMS deployment during the Y2K transition.  Recently, Jim was instrumental in implementing a web-based Payment Information Portal for new and existing New York City vendors to maintain their companies' information and to enroll as a first time City vendor on-line.

Demonstrated Excellence in Project Management
Michael Liriano – Department of Correction

Michael Liriano has launched a number of transformative technology programs in his role as head of the Department of Correction's (DOC) Project Management Office.  Visitor Express, now being deployed across Rikers Island, improves inmate, staff, and public safety by verifying visitor information more accurately, recording security incidents more consistently, and identifying security risks more reliably.  The Overtime Tracking System allows DOC to more effectively track the causes of unscheduled overtime by quickly identifying trends and creating processes when agencies must respond to unpredicted events such as epidemics, heat waves, and violence.  DOC can save millions of dollars annually by better predicting, managing, and reducing overtime with this innovative project.  Moreover, the Inmate Call Recording program, which authorizes New York City District Attorney Offices to review inmate phone calls has helped to improve the safety of inmates and the public.

Best Application Serving the Public (2)
Notify NYC – Mayor's Office, Office of Emergency Management, DoITT

Notify NYC enhances the delivery of emergency and non-emergency information to the public throughout New York City.  Prior to this project, the only means the City had to communicate emergencies or information to City residents were television, radio, or email lists.  Notify NYC significantly improves upon this business process by developing a central repository of residents and their interests, while capturing preferences on content and means of communication.  Registrants can be sent pertinent messages based on geography, category choices, and delivery preferences (email, SMS, telephone).  The project began as a pilot in four communities and is now deployed across the City.  Since the public launch on May 28, 2009, Notify NYC has helped keep the public informed on important topics including the helicopter/aircraft crash on the Hudson River, H1N1-related school closing information, and major utility outages.

NYC Health Insurance Link – Human Resources Administration

NYC Health Insurance Link (NYC HI Link) is the first municipally-developed, web-based application that helps consumers and small businesses find and compare a range of private health insurance plans. Individuals and small businesses in New York lacked accessible tools to find comprehensive, yet practical information about health insurance coverage on the web.  In today's economic climate, individuals and business owners are looking to understand the scope of their options, the ways that their choices may compare to each other, and how they can spend limited dollars most wisely.  NYC HI Link allows consumers to compare price and benefit information for private health insurance plans in one convenient location.  NYC HI Link will also uniquely position the City to be highly responsive to any comprehensive federal health reform initiative that may emerge in the coming years.

Best IT Collaboration Among Agencies
NYC Business Express – Mayor's Office, Department of Small Business Services, Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Finance, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, DOB, FDNY, DoITT

NYC Business Express is a one-stop online tool for the license, permit, tax, and incentive information and applications that businesses need in New York City, regardless of their size or type.   Prior to the development of Business Express, no customer-focused aggregation of New York City and State government requirements for businesses existed – and no opportunity was available for an enterprise to create a customized account view of its comprehensive relationship with the City.  Today, in a single place, individuals can learn about potential incentives and electronically access available information about their company, such as permit and license status, and can view and make payments against outstanding account balances.  NYC Business Express saves organizations time and money, allowing them to focus on the tasks critical to economic development: the facilitation of start-up activities, revenue generation, and, ultimately, job creation.  

Best In-House Developed Application
Technology Against Graffiti – Mayor's Office, Mayor's Office of Operations, DoITT

Technology Against Graffiti (TAG) serves the agencies involved in Graffiti Free NYC, the City's free graffiti removal program, including the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), 311, the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit (CAU), and the NYPD.  Prior to TAG, data related to graffiti complaints and removal services was housed in two separate databases.  TAG combines the work flow of these two applications, reducing duplicate data entry and providing a unified view of graffiti in the City, thereby allowing the DSNY to more effectively administer the program.  TAG has yielded changes in the graffiti-cleaning business processes, dramatically cut administrative hours required for the graffiti program, and improved the transparency of graffiti data for the public.  Since 2007, the number of sites cleaned has increased by 35%, and the time it takes the City to respond to a cleaning request has decreased by 50%.

Most Innovative Use of Technology
Electronic Transmission of 911 Photos and Crime-Related Tips – New York City Police Department

The NYPD has extended its community reach by accepting the electronic transmission of photos and video to 911, and SMS text messages and web entry of tips to Crime Stoppers.  Today, New Yorkers can anonymously submit information to the NYPD via text messages on their cell phones through a secure application that provides the tipster and the investigator a two-way dialog while keeping the tipster's identity completely anonymous.  The NYPD's WebTips application on allows tipsters to provide tip-related information via an easy-to-use web form; this form also provides translation in five languages and allows images to be uploaded.  By providing the Crime Stoppers website in several languages, Detectives can receive tips that might have never been reported or would have required a translator.

Best Wireless Project
Citywide Radio Network – DoITT, FDNY, Multiple City Agencies

The Citywide Radio Network (CRN) replaces current FDNY and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) dispatch systems and migrates first responders and public safety agencies – including the Office of Emergency Management – onto a common frequency enhancing citywide interoperability.  In addition, the network will support voice communications for the Departments of Transportation, Parks and Recreation, DOC, DSNY, the New York City Sheriff's Office, and the Health and Hospitals Corporation, as well as FDNY's non-dispatch communications.  CRN design contains multiple levels of backup redundancy circumventing reliance on commercial phone lines or commercial power, thereby avoiding vulnerability to power outages, and utilizes all channels throughout the five boroughs instead of dividing the City into multiple zones.  This design utilizes the maximum number of voice channels possible, making full-system capacity available in all areas of the City and increasing channel efficiency.  Implementation of CRN, rather than deployment of individual agency systems, could help the City realize a cost-savings of approximately $20 million.

Green IT Award
Reusable Case Management System – Department of Probation

The Reusable Case Management System (RCMS) is a notification-based workflow system that automates information-sharing between different Department of Probation units and critical external stakeholders in the courts and other criminal justice agencies at the federal, state, and City levels.  In addition to providing faster and more accurate service than the previous paper-based process, RCMS has dramatically reduced the amount of paper and supplies consumed monthly.  Designed to be scalable for small and large jurisdictions alike, RCMS has helped DOP work smarter, strategically, more efficiently and “greener.”  Since 2008, almost five million pieces of paper have been saved as a result of the RCMS implementation.

Special Recognition Award
Chief Rafael Pineiro – New York City Police Department

For nearly four decades, NYPD Chief Rafael Pineiro has protected and served New Yorkers in a variety of capacities, ranging from tactical patrol to legal affairs, and the from NYPD's housing bureau to Management Information Systems.  While the initiatives Chief Pineiro has advanced are vast, among the most noteworthy include leading the Department's implementation of the City's Automated Personnel System and deployment of handheld wireless devices for Police Officers and Supervisors to rapidly search for information on a person or item, such as license checks, warrants, with photos, gun permits, and domestic violence reports.  The Chief has also been instrumental in increasing language access: implementing an online system to track qualified interpreters for quick deployment when interpretation services are necessary; and developing a report providing breakouts of all language requests made via 911 operators, affording NYPD the ability to deploy resources to precincts accordingly.  He also created the WTC-911 website, designed to provide the members of the service, and their families, with the most up-to-date information regarding WTC benefits.

By championing the development and adoption of today's most technologically-advanced tools, Chief Pineiro's influence has contributed to the NYPD's establishment as a pre-eminent power in global law-enforcement.

Excellence in IT Service and Support Awards

In addition, 65 individual staff members and managers from 36 different agencies were presented with “Excellence in IT Service and Support” awards for their work on various foundational IT projects over the past year.

Established in 2001, the Excellence in Technology Awards Program salutes the best IT projects implemented by City agencies over the previous year and the staffs responsible for them.  Agency heads throughout the City are invited to submit nominations, with a citywide screening panel reviewing each submission and selecting a winner in each category.  From the nominations, a single entrant is chosen to receive the overall Excellence in Technology Award, selected as the project that exemplifies the very best of IT in the City of New York.

Previous Overall ETAP winners are:

2008:   New York City Wireless Network
2007:   New York City Automated Personnel System
2006:   DataShare/Integrated Justice Project
2005:   Real Time Crime Center (NYPD)
2004:   CityServ – Citywide Enterprise Email Solution
2003:   New York City 311 Customer Service Center
2002:   Henry Jackson (OEM) & Lawrence Knafo (DoITT), for Outstanding Technological Leadership in response to the September 11th, 2001 Attacks
2001:   Virtual Agency Project (Department of Finance)


Nick Sbordone (212) 788-6602