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Digital Update: Managing Multiple Emergencies, Canal Wi-Fi, PSC, & More

Posted on August 23, 2020


Vinh Phan

Managing Public Information in the Time of Multiple Emergencies

With various emergencies now overlapping, we expanded our “San Rafael Resilient” email newsletter to include information about potential power outages, air quality, wildfire, and the coronavirus.

Did you see our latest edition? On Wednesday of this week, we covered information about the lightning storm induced wildfires, how to best prepare for a wildfire and possible evacuation, whether or not your power would be shut off due to the high demand for electricity in light of the state’s record breaking heatwave, and of course, COVID. So far, resident feedback of the emergency compilation newsletter has been much appreciated.

“Great update. So appreciate all that information/links in one place. I sent to a friend in Watsonville (dealing with the smoke/ash from SC fire) and she was astonished at the level of communication from our City.”
San Rafael Resident

Earlier this month it was announced that the 2020 census deadline had been shortened and all counting efforts will end on September 30. We’ve accelerated our promotions of mobile and pop-up census sites, reminding the community of the importance to complete their census. Have you completed yours?


Canal Wi-fi Project

Testing, testing, and more testing for the complete launch of the Canal Wi-Fi network. We resolved a performance problem with the first root deployment yesterday afternoon; fine tuning will continue today to achieve the perfect root setup—squeezing every bit of performance out of the hardware. After that, it’s rinse and repeat throughout the neighborhood until installation is complete. Are you wondering what a “root” is in this context? Root access points connect the mesh network to the internet and mesh access points use the roots to connect users to the internet—ah, it’s all making sense now! The second root location at the Canal Alliance office, in the heart of the Canal neighborhood, will be coming online next week.

The project technical team will have their hands full in the coming weeks, mesh network security equipment will be arriving in the next few days and additional root locations are simultaneously being queued up for deployment. We’re so close!


The Big Move Continues in the Public Safety Center

August has been a month full of preparation and moving for the Digital Service team and our partners at Xantrion. Last week we completed the move of the Police Department’s records division while continuing to tie up loose ends on other technology projects in the building. This week we supported the Police Department move of report writing equipment and body camera systems. On Thursday and Friday of this week we are assisting Fire Administration in their move into the building completing the Fire Department’s staff transition into the Public Safety Center.

There is still a lot of work to do before we can celebrate. Our team is working with Fire and Police staff to ensure that Emergency Operations Center technology is optimized to meet their needs and we continue to support the Police Department in dispatch upgrade projects before they move into the new building. As with any move it takes a while to get used to the new space, so we will be working with Fire and Police staff in the coming months to make adjustments to technology and services where necessary to ensure all public safety operations and experience exceed expectations and guarantee an exemplary level of service.


Always Push Further

Our website vendor, ProudCity, offers a new module through their platform called “Local Government Meetings.” When the pandemic hit and we were faced with needing to offer virtual public meetings, our amazing City Clerk Lindsay Lara seized the opportunity to not just make them virtual, but also make them better (and cheaper).

Earlier this week, Lindsay was featured in the ProudCity Profiles series for pushing the boundaries to deliver the best experience for our constituents. The article highlights Lindsay’s passion for making things better, creativity, and her constant willingness to challenge the status quo.

“I am proud that we looked at what the state required and said, ‘that isn’t enough.’ To us, it isn’t enough to allow our residents to participate by email before the meeting. We wanted to make our virtual process mirror in-person meetings as much as possible, and that meant we needed to allow real-time commenting. I am proud we pushed further.” -Lindsay Lara, City Clerk, San Rafael, Calif.

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