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PTI at vanguard of technology providers for local governments.

Throughout the nation, the message from citizens to local government leaders is the same: do more with less ... run the city more like a business... reinvent and reengineer government ... hold the lid on taxes and fees ... and while you're at it, find new ways to connect more effectively with the public.

An impossible dream? Not at all. And fortunately, NLC's technology research and development arm, PTI, helps cities do just that.

For almost 25 years, PTI has been helping progressive and entrepreneurial cities and counties save money through the innovative uses of technology. Ultimately, citizens and taxpayers are the big winners, receiving the benefits of cutting-edge technology.


PTI's research, development and enterprise program initiatives benefit NLC members in a variety of important ways. By working closely with NLC and its other parent organizations, PTI ensures that its programs are responsive to the present and future technology needs of America's local governments.

PTI anticipates city technology needs and does the front-end work to ensure that the technology adoption process in local government proceeds in a smooth and cost-effective manner. Through extensive testing of new technologies and the negotiation of master contracts with reliable and reputable private sector partners on behalf of cities and counties, PTI takes the worry and hassle out of many local technology purchasing decisions.

During the past year, PTI also provided direct and indirect financial support for NLC technology initiatives. NLC used this money to produce a colorful and easy-to-read guidebook, The information Superhighway Game, develop a touchscreen information kiosk about NLC programs and services, establish an NLC presence on the Internet, conduct research on freedom of information and information privacy laws in the fifty states, advocate a strong local government role in national telecommunications legislation, and publish articles on emerging technology trends in Nation's Cities Weekly,


For nearly a quarter of a century, PTI has furthered the development and transfer of new technologies to assist local governments. Each year, PTI's member-driven applied R&D agenda starts with a detailed needs assessment by local leaders, moves through a review and prioritization process, and ends with on-the-ground projects in cities designed to field test technology innovations.

In the R&D phase, PTI and its members work collaboratively with the federal government, the private sector, other local governments, foundations, and the academic sector. Through PTI, corporations such as DEC, the Regional Bell Operating Companies and Waste Management, Inc., have worked with advisory groups of government managers to learn more about government technology needs and to develop and pilot new products and services jointly.

PTI's R&D process makes extensive use of its own network of city and county technology experts. These specialists serve on PTI'S committees and task forces that explore local government technology needs in areas such as transportation, energy, environment, information, and telecommunications.



Once a technology or new approach to a common city problem has shown promise, PTI, in partnership with NLC and other sponsoring organizations, uses a variety of techniques to deploy the technology solution broadly to local governments. These techniques include sharing of information, training, and on-site technical assistance.

Information Sharing

PTI produces numerous reports and guidebooks for local governments on state-of-the-art technology practices in cities and counties. Recently released PTI guide-books cover a wide range of local government interests in information technology, sustainability, energy conservation and transportation. (see box)

PTI also publishes Solutions, an annual compendium that documents hundreds of case studies of innovation and excellence in local government program design and implementation. Recently produced CD-Roms include the disc and A Guide to the Information Superhighway, both published with ICMA, as well as a timely video, Public Enterprise, on how local governments are using their assets to bring in new revenue.

A quarterly newsletter, PTI Prism, keeps local governments and the media up-to-date on technology research, development and commercialization needs and opportunities, and features news about communities that are using technology to solve today's common municipal problems.

PTI and two of its sponsors, ICMA and NLC, have collaborated to create Access Local Government, a private on-line forum for local governments. Delivered through CompuServe at an affordable price, Access Local Government is an easy-to-navigate service that features e-mail, conferencing, message boards, a library of local-government-specific solutions to common city problems, and a connection to the Internet and World Wide Web.

PTI and its sponsoring organizations, NLC, NACo and ICMA, also have an active presence on the Internet Their home pages highlight member achievements and information and resources for local governments.


PTI participates in the annual conventions of its parent organizations. At NLC's annual Congress of Cities, for example, PTI, in partnership with NLC and IBM, is a sponsor of Tech City, a hands-on demonstration area where local officials can see practical applications of information technologies--GIS and E-911 systems, new pager, phone and laptop applications in local governments, and how cities are using bulletin boards and home pages to reduce costs and improve services to citizens. PTI members regularly participate in Congress of Cities workshops dealing with technology and its applications in local government.

Along with its sponsoring organizations and Westcott Communications, PTI helped create GSTN, the Government Services Television Network. GSTN is a convenient, flexible, and affordable videotape training service for local governments. GSTN helps local governments stretch scarce training dollars by providing monthly broadcast quality videotapes covering key issues of interest to local government employees.

Technical Assistance

Through PTI, cities can receive technical assistance and can take advantage of networking opportunities, including peer-to-peer exchanges, and other "how to" help from leading technology experts.

Through the work of committees of PTI's Urban Consortium network, for example, dozens of cities have benefitted from the provision of on-site technical support on programs relating to information master planning, strategic planning, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable and alternative fuels, intelligent transportation systems, and building retrofit practices.

PTI also provides technical assistance to cities through a utility franchise audit program. Recognizing that many telecommunications, cable, and power franchise agreements are not yielding the full revenues to which a city is entitled, Pti helps in negotiating new agreements and in auditing old ones to document past underpayments.

PTI's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program, which promotes technologies such as "smart" traffic signal control systems, electronic fare payment systems, electronic toll collection systems, collision avoidance systems, and real-time traveler information, aims to help local governments reduce congestion and air pollution in their regions.


As PTI moves into 1996--and prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary--it does so with a strengthened commitment.

The challenges ahead--increased devolution of governmental responsibilities to the local level, the explosion of information connectivity and interactivity possibilities, the increasing globalization of the world economy--present opportunities and pitfalls for local governments.

With the active involvement of its members and its sponsoring organizations, PTI will continue to play a leadership role in ensuring that the technologies of tomorrow serve local government leaders and their citizens.


Eight NLC members have received recognition for local initiatives that tap the power of technology. They will be among twenty-one communities honored with a Technology Achievement Award from Public Technology, Inc. (PTI) at the Congress of Cities in Phoenix. The winners were announced last month at PTI's annual conference in San Diego.

Community and Economic Development

Phoenix, Ariz., brought watersaving plumbing retrofits to inner-city homes through a unique neighborhood-based conservation program, Last fall, the city's Water Services and Neighborhood Services Departments--with financial backing from the Arizona Department of Water Resources--put 36 plumbing students to work with residents of the city's poorest neighborhoods. in the program's first year, the students upgraded over 130 homes, repairing leaks; replacing inefficient showerheads, toilets, and water heaters. and rebuilding shower and faucet controls. These enhancements will reduce water usage by 65 percent.

Details: Thomas M. Babcock, Water Services Department, 602/261-8377 (e-mail:; Janice Mowery, Neighborhood Services Department (e-mail:


Philadelphia, Pa., replaced 212 red incandescent traffic-signal lamps with light-emitting-diode LED) signals in a 20-month test of energy, economic, and environmental benefits. introduction of the red LED traffic signals, more energy-efficient than their conventional cousins, has saved the city $10,000 in electricity costs. City-wide installation could mean annual cost savings of over $1 million, energy savings of 7.4 million kilowatt-hours, and elimination of 5,920 tons of carbon-dioxide, 68 tons of sulfur-dioxide, and 21 tons of nitrogen-oxide emissions to the atmosphere.

Details: John M. O'Connell, Chief Engineer, Municipal Energy Office, 215/686-3905.

Sustainable Development

Albuquerque N.M., reprocessed waste latex paint into a cost-effective anti-graffiti product. In October 1994, the city's Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Center, seeking a way to avoid the cost and groundwater-contamination risks of disposal, teamed with a local manufacturer to bulk, reblend, tint, and repackage waste paint for sale to Albuquerque's Graffiti Removal Services Program. Through this venture, the HHW Collection Center will save an estimated $12,000 yearly in avoided disposal costs; Graffiti Removal Services, which buys reprocessed paint at half the cost of new paint, will save an estimated $15,000 yearly.

Details Milo G. Myers, Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center Coordinator, Environmental Health Department, 505/768-2600.


Tampa, Fla., unable to landfill water-treatment sludge as freely as in the past, searched for new treatment chemicals yielding both high-quality drinking water and reusable by-products, and discovered two--ferric sulfate and sulfuric acid--that produce iron humate, a vital supplement for iron-deficient soils in Florida's citrus groves and anemic newborn piglets on the nation's farms. In the past, Tampa had used alum to treat source water, generating a high-aluminum sludge with no redeeming value. Now, the city is marketing iron humate through a major fertilizer manufacturer and keeping treatment-plant residuals out of landfills.

Details: James M. Gianatasio, Operations/Treatment Supervisor, Water Department, 813/274-8315


Arlington County, Va., launched a unique Taxpayer Assistance Program offering emergency loans to county residents lacking the funds to pay taxes on time, Sparing needy taxpayers the harassment of collection, the county's lending partner advances payment on their behalf. Those who repay loans within six months do so interest-free; thereafter, interest accrues on unpaid balances at a rate of 16 percent per year. If a taxpayer defaults on a loan, the unpaid balance is reinstated as taxes due, and the county treasurer takes immediate collection action. Of 1,921 accounts processed to date, only 120 have required enforcement.

Details: Frank O'Leary, Arlington County Treasurer, 703/358-3255.

Fire Safety and Disaster Planning

Fort Collins, Colo.'s Poudre Fire Authority developed HMMP 2.0, a software package that makes hazardous-materials reporting a snap for local businesses and arms firefighters with the data they need for strategic disaster response. Among other features, the application contains databases classifying over 1,400 hazardous chemicals, removing the burden of classification from the commercial customer and ensuring data that is error-free. The fire authority is marketing the product across the western United States and expects substantial revenues from sales.

Details: Shawn A. Bailey, Technician, Fire Prevention Bureau Hazardous Materials Unit, Poudre Fire Authority, 970/221-6570.

Public Works and General Services

San Diego, Calif., took control of its extensive residential refuse-collection network-encompassing hundreds of routes and over 15,000 stops each year-with a powerful geographic information system (GIS). Until recently, city staff manually mapped collection routes; now, using an IBM workstation networked to San Diego's GIS-based Regional Urban information System, they can obtain reliable service data for any city neighborhood, restructure routes and crews for optimal efficiency, adjust routes to respond to fluctuations in refuse tonnage, and produce instant full-color route maps for crews and supervisors.

Details: Charles Woolever, Deputy Director, Environmental Services Department, 619/492-5042; William J. Bamberger, Manager, GIS Services, San Diego Data Processing Corporation, 619/581-9747.


Portland, ore., designed pager-controlled flashing beacons for the city's school crossings. Using paging software that controls the timing of on-and-off messages to each beacon, staff can customize operating schedules for each school and adjust schedules from their desktops. The digital pagers used to operate the beacons share a single pager phone number; however, each pager is programmed to respond to a unique six-digit code assigned to a particular school. Each pager-controlled beacon costs approximately $600 to install, compared to approximately $2,500 using traditional methods. With a typical school crossing requiring a minimum of two units, the city expects a per-crossing cost savings of approximately $3,800.

Details: Lisa Elbert, Engineering Associate, Bureau of Traffic Management, 503/823-7680 (for general information); Paul Zebell, Signal Electrician, Maintenance Bureau, 503/823-7300 (for information on pager-system design).

The annual Technology Achievement Awards competition is one facet of a broader effort to encourage and honor innovation in local government.

PTI will publish all 245 entries to the 1995 competition in WINNING SOLUTIONS 95, a comprehensive showcase of local government innovations available in print and on CD-ROM. Selected entries also appear on PTI'S Internet home page (

The Judges

The entrants were judged by a panel consisting of: Antoinette Samuels, center director, education information resources, NLC; Winifred Lyday, director, information technical services, NACo; Gerry Hoetmer, director, research and development, ICMA; Ken Black, director, marketing and business development, Entergy Systems and Service, Inc.; and Greg Layton, vice president, business development, Government Technology.

RELATED ARTICLE: Dear Municipal Leader,

The-relentless and rapid pace of technological change in our service society poses huge challenges--and tremendous opportunities--for the nation's cities and towns. In today's rapidly-changing information age and knowledge-based economy, no community can afford to be technology-averse.

Local government leaders who understand the promises and pitfalls of technology--and who understand how technology must and can serve governance and human needs--are those who will be most able to lead their communities to compete in the global economy and best able to harness technology to improve services to citizens.

But how can city officials stay up-to-date on the risks and rewards of technology and its applications in local government? The answer to that question led the creation, nearly 25 years ago, of a new nonprofit organization--Public Technology, Inc., a research, development, and technology transfer institution sponsored by NLC, the International City/County Management Association, and the National Association of Countries.

In the pages that follow you'll learn more about how PTI's wide array of programs and services can benefit cities and towns of all sizes. Most important, you'll discover how PTI focuses its technology-driven agenda to support local government leaders in their decision-making roles.

I encourage you to read this report carefully. Then, take advantage of the money opportunities PTI offers to help your community save money through technological innovation and public-private partnership. With your active involvement and participation, PTI will continue to play a leadership role in ensuring that technology serves and support local government leaders and the citizens they serve.


Donald J. Borut Executive Director

How PTI Serves NLC Members

* Provides access to cost-effective technology solutions

* Produces products and services specifically tailored to local government needs

* Creates new municipal revenue streams

* Expands information-sharing on technology issues

* Brokers master contracts with private sector

* Conducts member-driven R&D

* Offers technical assistance and training on emerging technologies

* Gives support to parent organizations

PTI Values

* Ensure human dominate over technology

* Treat citizens as customers

* Use profits from technology to invest in the future

* Ensure ethics and equity in technology enterpreneurship

* Forge partnerships with the private sector

* Embrace change and take risks for a better future

Guidebooks for Local Governments

* The Local Government Sustainable Buildings Guidebook

* The Local Government Guide to Solid Waste Competitive Governments

* Managing Asbestos-Containing Material: A Manual for Local Government

* Surfin' the Net: A Local Government Guide to Internet Connection

* Traveling With Success: How Local Governments Use Intelligent Transportation Systems

* Landfill Methane Gas Recovery and Utilization

* The Local Government Guide to Imaging Systems

* A Guide to the Information Superhighway CD-ROM

* Solutions




Acting as an advocate for local and state governments, PTI pools the buying power of thousands of cities, countries and states to negotiate products and services at prices that are not available to individual customers acting alone. PTI works with government leaders to develop specifications an criteria, solicit bids and proposals, evaluate the offerings and negotiate master contracts and pricing schedules for local and state governments.

We Conduct A Rigorous Competitive Bid Process So You Don't Have To!

PTI's Master Contract Programs are Characterized By:

* Discounted Products and Services

* Revenue Generation Opportunities

* Top Quality

* Flexible Contract Terms

* Cost Management Features

* Support and Service

* Design by Local Government experts


Public Payphone Commissions

AT&T and PTI: receive high commissions on the long distance calls made from your public pay telephones in your public buildings, right-of-way, airports, convention centers, libraries and other government facilities.

Long Distance Telecommunications

AT&T and PTI: lower the cost of government's long distance calling. PTI rebid the contract in 1995 and selected AT&T to provide an even more competitive program that includes a variety of telecommunications services: 800, conference calling, broadcast faxing and email.


Compaq and PTI: top quality desktop and laptop computers at special prices, with incentives for Compaq local dealers to participation in the program (keeping dollars local community!).


Stream and PTI: shrink-wrapped microcomputer software for your office computing needs (also available to employees for home purchase).


Anixter and PTI: all the network equipment you need to connect and integrate your telephone voice and data communications needs.


NLC, ICMA, NACO, Westcott Communication PTI: The Government Services TV Network (GSTN) monthly video subscription service covering the latest in local government news, policies and training programs.


Energy Efficiency Services: Entergy Systems and Services, Inc. and PTI are conducting market research to assess the needs for better energy management and retrofit of lighting, heating and cooling, and energy monitoring and control equipment in local and state government.

About PTI

Public Technology, Inc. (PTI), is the non-profit technology organization of the National League of Cities (NLC), the National Association of Counties (NACo), and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Through collaborative research by its member jurisdictions, PTI creates and advances technology-based products, services, and enterprises in cities and counties nationwide.

Led by Dr. Costis Toregas, PTI has brought money-saving ideas to states, counties and cities since 1971. With a staff of technology specialists and a budget of $6 million, PTI and 125 members focus on developing technologies that:

* advance local government communications capabilities to make cities "well-connected" internally, to citizens, and to other communities;

* support local government leaders in their decision-making; and

* are suitable and maintain the critical balance between urban development and a healthy environment.
COPYRIGHT 1995 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related service information and related letter from the National League of Cities' Executive Director; Public Technology Inc.: Special Report
Author:Kellogg, Camille; Borut, Donald J.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 20, 1995
Previous Article:1995: an upbeat year for cities, NLC.
Next Article:Municipal marketplace profiles: a service to Nation's Cities Weekly.

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