City embraces new technology

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 2, 2014

Embracing technology makes the city faster, more efficient and saves money. Nearly $100,000 in savings can be traced to the implementation of GPS tracking on city vehicles South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson told the Vicksburg Rotary Club Thursday.

Thompson said the tracking allows the city to follow how fast vehicles are going, how hard people are braking and the distances which they are traveling.

GPS technology has helped reduce the cost of refueling the city’s fleet by monitoring vehicle usage.

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Thompson also talked about the implementation of e-ticketing in the police department, which allows officers to electronically file traffic tickets.

“What that means is less time in the office and more time on the streets, more time to respond, more time to keep you safe,” said Thompson.

The city has installed computers in the fire department’s ambulances through a state grant to send patient information to hospitals and the Mississippi Department of Health. This allows vital patient information to be transmitted to the hospital ahead of the patient’s arrival allowing the emergency room personnel to be prepared, Thompson said.

The city is planning to launch a texting service allowing the city to disseminate information via text message. With the proliferation of cell phones, text messaging has become the preferred mode of communication. Thompson said surveys show that 98 percent of text messages are read, making that the most effective way of sending out information, to keep in touch with residents.

Thompson told the club of how, by entering into a franchise agreement with AT&T, the city’s TV23 is able to reach a broader audience on UVerse. Instead of reaching 6,000 viewers on Vicksburg Video, the channel now reaches 500,000 viewers. This allows the city a greater opportunity to market Vicksburg across a much broader area.

“We’ve invested in technology, and I believe technology allows us to get things done faster and more efficient at less cost,” said Thompson, who is a member of the city’s technology committee.

Thompson also touched on the importance of community service before opening the floor for questions.