How Some San Joaquin Valley Businesses, Governments, Schools, Libraries,
and CBO’s are Taking Advantage of the Web and Internet
|This is a collection of stories from a variety of
people and organizations in the San Joaquin Valley about how they
are taking advantage of the World Wide Web and the Internet. These
stories were collected from the participants at ACCESS workshops
held in each county in the second half of 2001. They illustrate the
diversity of applications of the new technologies and provide
insight into how we are already using them creatively to change the
way we work, live, and learn.
County GIS – Hal Eidal
The County is putting a library of maps on the Web for public access.
Visitors to the site will be able to put in a location and find the
nearest school, library or bus stop. Residents and businesses will be able
to look up properties for zoning, property tax and other information.
Kaiser Permanente – Corwin Harper
Members of the Kaiser plan are now able to go on-line to make routine
appointments to see doctors instead of sitting on the phone. Patients are
given a Personal Identification Number to protect their privacy. Members
can access the entire Healthcare Handbook on-line. Kaiser is moving
to digital radiography. Soon they will be able to ship images on the
Internet to other Kaiser hospitals in the San Francisco bay area.
Information technology is viewed as an enabling technology that helps
doctors and nurses do their jobs better.
Clovis Unified School District Laptop Program – Bill Cook
This fall 6,000 students are coming to school every day with a laptop
computer. They use the laptops in all of their classes. Teachers are now
able to go into much greater depth on a topic, instead of having to cover
subjects a "mile-wide, inch deep." Students are going on-line to
take Advanced Placement classes that are not available at the school.
Computers in the classroom are not a new phenomenon in Clovis.
Administrators have been tracking student performance over several years
and are finding that grades definitely improve when teachers use computers
in the classroom as another instructional tool.
California School of Professional Psychology
Several years ago students would take months to do the research needed
to identify a critical citation for a paper. A year ago the reference
database became available to librarians in electronic form. Students could
pay a professional researcher $60/hour and get the citation in a day or
two. Today, students are doing the research themselves and finding the
citation in minutes or hours.
West Hills Community College – Michelle Kozlowski
The college now offers 50 courses on-line. Some of the instructors are
in other countries, including China. Some of the students live in other
parts of the U.S. The school developed some of the software but partnered
with DataTel for administrative tools such as grade tracking, and for
collaboration tools like Blackboard.
School of Education at Fresno State University – Otto Benavides
When the school was planning a new building in the early 1990’s, the
faculty saw no need for building in a network. "Why bother?"
they asked, "We have fax machines." Today they can not do their
jobs without e-mail.
The California State University system is the most technologically
advanced in the U.S. In 1994 the University gave faculty members five
years to learn how to use computers. Today the Commission on Teacher
Credentialing requires every graduate of a school of education to be
computer literate in order to be credentialed. Technology is like a car;
it can be used to perform many different tasks, from carrying passengers
to work, to fetching groceries, or going on a vacation. Teachers have to
learn how to operate computers so they can use them for purposes we can’t
even imagine today.
Public Libraries – John Kallenberg
The libraries now allow patrons to renew books over the Internet. The
service is proving to be extremely popular with recent usage growing 500%.
Agriculture – Richard Machado
The agricultural industry is going through profound change. Regulatory
agencies are demanding that growers and processors develop and maintain a
history of every product that includes all chemicals that were applied
from planting to harvest. For animal products, the records have to capture
what the animals ate, the history of the feed, any injections, and other
treatments the animals may have received during their entire lives. In
order to comply with this regulatory requirement, we going to have to
develop massive databases and networks for data submission, tracking and
The Farm Bill now in Congress includes funding to develop wireless
infrastructure for agricultural regions.
County Agriculture Department – Doug Edwards
Large growers are transmitting batches of Notices of Intent to apply
pesticides to the Ag Department using dial up modems. Small growers will
soon be able to submit notices on the World Wide Web.
Wineries are starting to demand documentation on the growing histories
for grapes. They want to know what treatments each batch of grapes has
Crop histories are also needed for export certification. The USDA is
putting the certification system on-line so they can transmit the data to
the receiving country.
Telework – Vern Highley
Vern was able to re-locate his lobbying practice from Sacramento to
Fresno because he could get a good Internet connection. Now he can be
close to his grandchild.
Commercial Real Estate – Mike Ryan
By listing properties on-line, we are able to find buyers from all
across the country. A recent sale went to some one from the San Francisco
bay area. An inquiry on another property came from North Carolina. This
level of visibility was not possible before the arrival of the Web. (See
Engineering Company – Donald Ikemiya
Their high-speed DSL connection has been a boon to business. They no
longer use Federal Express to mail drawings. They routinely e-mail 5 to 10
megabyte files to clients. A problem, sometimes, is that the receiving
company must also have a high-speed connection. The company, which has
about 50 employees, also uses desktop video conferencing to reduce the
number of driving trips to their office in Bakersfield.
Police Department – Patrick Rhames
The department posts mug shots and histories on its Intranet. The data
is accessible to the cities and county, saving time and making critical
information available to police officers when they need it. The media is
also getting limited, password protected access to the files to help them
with their stories. The media also has special access to an on-line
dispatch center where they can get information on the location of an
incident so they can route their people to the scene. The month-old web
site is already cutting down on the number of calls the department gets.
EOC Office of Rural Assistance – Vickie Hoyle
Through a grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control
District, EOC’s Office of Rural Assistance (ORA) was able to link Fresno’s
13 rural cities and 6 unincorporated areas with the ORA to provide the
services of an informational clearing house and teleconferencing capacity.
E-Village – Tomasz Wielicki, California State University, Fresno
This 5,000 home development is designed for teleworkers. The developer,
Dennes Coombs, plans to attract high-wage individuals from the San
Francisco bay area to the San Joaquin Valley for its high quality of life.
Each home will be fully wired and have access to a very high-speed
network. Some companies have expressed interest in buying 50-100 unit
batches of homes for their employees.
Nortel is a strategic partner. Groundbreaking will begin in the spring
of 2002. The location is just north of the Fresno County line.
MercedNet – Greg Carver
We set up a "Wired Café" with 12 machines in the front of
the office as a marketing tool. We never expected it to be so popular.
Kids come in after school, high school and elementary school, and they
bring their parents. Soon after the attacks on the World Trade Center,
people were coming in to get the latest news. Merced is a great place for
us – 54% of the county is under 34 years old. We are setting up a
community website and plan to offer training at the Café. And yes, we
Bass Telecom – Ed Steffan
The rapid changes in technology have forced us to change our services
many times. We started out installing networks for mechanical
switchboards, now customers are getting Voice over IP systems. High-speed
communications allowed us to hire a talented employee who lives and works
in Sacramento. We moved to Merced from Lodi because our employees, young
people, wanted to be here. Workers in Merced are hard working and
dedicated, but they lack the skills we need. If we train them most move to
Silicon Valley for the higher wages.
Transportation Planning Agency – Matt Fell
Improving air quality is a top priority; the Internet is helping keep
cars off the road. We set up a website to match up people who want to
share rides. It has been very successful. High-speed networks have changed
how we work. Documents get to other agencies much faster and we use the
network to do research. We use e-mail lists for public outreach, to
recruit volunteers, and to announce workshops.
Foster Farms – Tom Putney
We encourage our employees to work from home if it makes sense. Their
productivity is so good it is hard to tell they are not in the office. The
only drawback is that they miss out on some of the office gossip. Our
P-Card, a special kind of credit card, is increasing our need for more
communications lines for transaction processing. We need more homes
connected; we need high-speed services throughout the Valley.
Yosemite Wholesale/SaveMart – Steve Fells
When we arrived in Merced in 1981, we used couriers to move documents
to Modesto every day. We continued to use couriers through the 90’s, but
less and less. Today every desk has a computer and live access to company
data. Every SaveMart has e-mail access. Our trucks have computers on board
and download their data when they arrive at the loading dock. Electronic
Data Interchange (EDI) is a critical technology for transmitting
Regional Occupation Program – Ralph Vigil
Our goal is to prepare kids for the future. To do that we have to make
sure they are connected. There are a number of programs in computer
service and repair. The Merced Technical Institute offers classes, middle
schools get kids started on certification programs that they can finish in
college. They use the Internet to research careers. Local clubs compete
nationally. The Internet helps them get to the national and international
levels of competition by providing access to information about the program
and tools for research. We need streaming video for instruction, support
for more languages, better access to public services, and better mobile
Community Action Board – Rick Breeze-Martin
The Micro-Entrepreneur Support Association (MESA) provides member with
free websites for marketing their services. The program includes a
revolving loan fund; members can use the website to complete
pre-application forms. A key goal is to overcome the isolation of
micro-entrepreneurs by creating a virtual community for them. The
Community Action Net plans to open access centers in low income
communities in 12-18 months. They will offer loaner computers in exchange
for volunteer time.
Healthcare – Ned Miller
We keep finding new ways to use the Internet. On-line job listings are
very valuable for finding and recruiting nurses. The Internet is helping
people take training programs locally instead of having to go to San
Francisco. Dental x-rays are now digital. We e-mail them to the Delta
Dental insurance in Sacramento, speeding processing time and reducing
losses of films. Telemedicine is coming. The Cancer Center in Merced is
using it today. More applications are expected soon. UC Davis is a leader
in this field. The hospital at Castle Air Force base needs more
communications lines to upgrade its facility and catch up with demand for
more communications services.
SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY
Pesticide Permitting – Clark Bennett
The County Information Systems Division worked with the Agricultural
Commissioner to allow growers and applicators to submit "Notices of
Intent" to apply restricted pesticides on-line 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week. Applicants do not have to drive to county offices for permits, and
every transaction is clearly documented. This experience has encouraged
the departments to put agricultural burn permits on-line next. (www.co.san-joaquin.ca.us/agcomm/)
Health Plan of San Joaquin – Steve Cox
The Health Plan is an HMO that provides health services for the
Medicaid population in the County. They have set up an Internet-based
system that makes a wide variety of transactions paperless. Providers can
submit claims on-line, review member histories, see what medications have
been prescribed, and check member eligibility. Member organizations also
have access to a library of information on treatment modalities and a
directory of specialists. Patients can look up healthcare providers by
insurance plan and ZIP code. (www.hpsj.com)
San Joaquin Delta College – Kathryn Campbell
On-line classes have been a big success. We started with two classes
and 50 students. Now we have 38 classes in the current semester alone, and
2,700 on-line students. On-line classes range from Principles of
Accounting to Child, Family and Community. The Internet allows
people to take classes at home or work. Many students are single parents
and people with disabilities. Having access to a computer and the Internet
did not turn out to be as much of a barrier as had been feared. (deltaonline.org)
Libraries – Evia Moore, Nicky Stanke
All nine public libraries offer computers for free Internet access and
free classes. The classes are very popular. Job searching is one of the
most popular uses for the machines. The research librarians help people
learn how to do rigorous research on the World Wide Web. Contrary to
popular belief, even young people need assistance with the new
technologies. Seniors get special attention. The Delta College library has
paid subscription CD ROM databases on-line. The next steps include
developing a portal that will allow people to search for and request books
from any public library in the region, and giving patrons the ability to
place books on hold from home. (www.stockton.lib.ca.us)
Agris’ eTomato – Andrew Arnold
ETomato is an on-line, web-based, information hub for the tomato
processing industry. Inspection information is entered at grading stations
in the field. Data is transmitted to a central data warehouse that is
Internet accessible by processors. Out of range test results trigger
pagers to provide fast alerts. Timely data allows processors to optimize
the production mix and reduce waste. About 70% of the Valley’s tonnage
is now going through the eTomato system. Agris is developing eFruit and
City of Lodi – Stan Helmly
In 1997 the City Council approved $68,000 to digitize public records
and put them on the city’s website for public access. There are now
69,000 pages on-line. Council minutes date back to 1906, resolutions to
1983, with full text search. The database is very popular with City staff
and the press. Residents use it to prepare for up-coming Council meetings.
The City Clerk is getting fewer calls for agendas and other information
that is now on the website. (www.lodi.gov)
Delta Wireless and Network Solutions – David Naasz
Delta has a wireless public safety network that covers Turlock to
Sacramento and Auburn. Delta also offers a 1 megabit wireless data
service. Growers are key customers. The County has built a network of
microwave links to connect its facilities at 1/10th the cost of
Morrill Industries – Michael Morrill
Morrill makes irrigation equipment. In 1999 it built its first website
with the help of its printing vendor. The website lists only 100 of the
company’s 3,000 products. Morrill is joining up with other irrigation
equipment companies in the San Joaquin Valley to market the Valley’s
their products globally. With the help of the Center for Irrigation
Technology at CSU Fresno, the water flow technology cluster alliance is
developing a web portal to market the member’s products. Morrill is now
working to revise its website, and add more of its product line, for the
new global marketplace. (cati.csufresno.edu/cit/)
Mariposa Library System – Jacque Meriam
The Library System is in process of upgrading their Internet connection
from a T-1 to a T-3. The library plays a key role in providing access in
the County for both residents and businesses. There are six PC’s at the
main library and two at branch libraries that provide for Internet access.
US Parks Service – Dan Sohn
Yosemite Park is part of the overall Parks Service. They have an
advanced Web site that offers visitors information on the Park, the area,
and amenities. There are nearly 700 employees at Yosemite at peak season,
each with a connection to the network. The Parks Service is in need of
upgrading its existing T-1 connection and is hoping to cooperate with the
Library to improve its connection.
Mariposa County Title – Neil Stoneham
Mariposa County Title is using information technology to streamline the
process of buying and selling real estate. The company is using email to
communicate and coordinate with clients. They recently closed a sale with
a client in Chile using adobe acrobat and email.
CKC Labs – Chuck Kendall
CKC Labs has several sites around the western US where its employees
test new electronics equipment to determine if it meets FCC and other
standards. Employees used to send their hand written product reports in to
the Mariposa office for compiling. Now with network technology and a T-1
connection, the company has employees file reports electronically, saving
time and money.
Sierra Communications – Roger Biery
Sierra Communications is a company that provides marketing services to
telecommunications companies. With a modem and phone, this company is able
to work for major industry titans like Cisco Systems from Mariposa. Sierra
develops specific marketing strategies for high-tech products.
Tenaya Lodge – Robert Hunt
A firm based in Buffalo, NY owns the Tenaya lodge. The internal systems
for finance, human resources, etc. are managed there. Employees at the
lodge connect to the corporate systems via a T-1 connection. Tenaya Lodge
allows visitors to book a room at the lodge online and take a virtual tour
of the property.
Lindsay School District – Janet Kliegl
The school district has been successful in securing state and federal
grants to build an advanced network and provide teacher technology
training. They have upgraded their internal networks, PC’s, and phone
system in the past few years. The district has also begun training the
staff on how to use the technology and integrate digital content into the
curriculum. They report having sufficient computer labs at each of the
schools to ensure access to students and faculty.
Tulare County Family Service Agency – Karen
The Tulare County Family Service Agency received a grant to build a
wide area network to link all the agencies involved in family services
together to share information, centralize case information, and streamline
the flow of information. The Sheriff’s Department for instance, takes
digital photos of crime scenes and quickly uploads the information for all
the law enforcement agencies to access. Officers in the field are able to
file restraining orders electronically, and have the issuing party sign
the paperwork on the scene instead of requiring them to go to the Sheriff’s
office to complete the paperwork.
Tulare County United Way – Ernie Hernandez
Tulare County United way is piloting a program with 13 community-based
organizations to eliminate the need for customers to enter their personal
information in multiple locations and offices to receive services.
Normally, clients complete lengthy forms at each agency they are
requesting service from. This program is making accessing services more
convenient for community members and eliminating the often embarrassing
situation where agencies must request information from customers multiple
times. Up to 50 agencies will be able to belong to this network once the
pilot program is complete.
World Wide Sires – Jennifer Fernandez Hunt
World Wide Sires is using technology to effectively support their
worldwide sales force for bull semen. In the past, when sales staff
returned from long overseas trips, it would take weeks to complete order
processing and summarize and file other data that was collected on the
trip. Now the sales force uses the Internet to access the companies
internal systems and in real time enters sales and order information. This
has improved customer service, allowed the company to fulfill orders
faster, and has made the sales force more productive.
Kaweah Delta Health District – Dave Gravender
The health district is implementing technology solutions to speed up
and improve the processes for doctors to sign patient file information.
Through an application developed by the hospital, doctors now access files
electronically and sign-off on the forms electronically. This has greatly
reduced the amount of time the doctors spend traveling back and forth from
their offices and homes to the hospital. Technology has also improved
doctor’s ability to access patient information by making it available
Lane Realty – Rebecca Lane
Lane Realty is a one-woman independent brokerage that serves the
eastern part of Madera County. Rebecca opened her office in North Fork in
1996 and launched her web site in 1998. Thanks in large part to the web,
Lane Realty’s business has been growing by a factor of four every year.
Buyers are contacting Rebecca from all over the U.S., Israel, Japan, and
other parts of the world. A significant number of buyers want to
telecommute. We need better services in the foothills to support them.
Madera County Environmental Health Department – Ruthanne Harbison
The department has invested in a GIS system to identify and monitor
water sources. They have mapped 217 small water systems throughout the
County at less than one meter resolution. Ruthanne chairs the County GIS
Committee and leads a San Joaquin Valley-wide GIS coordination team.
Riverbend Ranch e-Village – Steven Varner
Dennes Coombs is planning a 30,000 home development near Avenue 12 in
Rio Mesa. The target buyer is a telecommuter who will work for UC Merced,
and other local businesses, as well as people working in Madera, Fresno,
Clovis, the San Francisco bay area and Southern California. The developer,
Property Development Group, has conducted extensive focus group studies to
determine what telecommuters need in their homes. They are partnering with
Nortel for the technology and working with, California State University
Fresno, the Chawanakee School District, two utility companies and Caltrans.
A goal is to build an environmentally sensitive community that minimizes
auto traffic and encourages teleworkers to use local community centers for
Daulton Ranch – Clay Daulton
The Daulton Ranch has relied on DTN, a satellite-based service, for
commodity prices and agricultural news for many years. The company would
like to use the Internet to sell cattle, for agricultural permits, and to
speed access to the Farm Credit System for monthly loan reporting. The
ranch granted an easement to run a fiber optic cable across its land, but
the company is unable to get the high-speed services it needs.
Madera Arts – Nancy Clute
The Madera County Arts Council is heavily dependent on e-mail for its
operations. It’s website – www.maderaarts.org – provides information
on its programs and a calendar of events. The Council has been a member of
the California Arts Council since 1982.
Maderans Making a Difference – Mike Fuller
Maderans Making a Difference is working on plans for a community portal
on the Internet. The organization is also working on a smart card
application to help migrant workers transfer funds to Mexico without
having to pay high fees. Any excess revenues from the project will go to
AcceleratorOnline – Amy Chubb
AcceleratorOnline is a virtual business incubator based at CSU Fresno.
It provides entrepreneurial training for students and established small
businesses, and internship opportunities for MBA students. Twenty-five
high school students, including several from Madera County, have enrolled
in a program to learn how to prepare a business plan. They are now
recruiting potential Virtual Incubator Tenants as well as people
interested in the online entrepreneurial training.
High Tech Crimes Task Force – Sgt. Kevin Weaver
The Chowchilla Police Department is participating in a State-sponsored
regional high tech crimes task force that is based in Fresno. The region
stretches from Tulare to Modesto. Participants are receiving training and
equipment for investigating high tech crimes. A computer forensics lab is
being set up in Fresno. Computer companies like HP are providing equipment
and cash for the program. The program has helped Chowchilla with four
computer crimes in the last 12 months, including one $400,000 embezzlement
R.L. Schafer & Associates – Michael Tharp
R.L. Schafer & Associates is a civil engineering and surveying
company that serves the agricultural community. The company reported using
a DSL connection to significantly enhance their business. They use the
fast connection to email documents to clients, plans, and other files. The
use the Internet to download rules and regulations from regulatory
agencies and to access forms and documents from their government clients.
California Employment Development Department – Beverly Mechem
The State has developed a portal to link together job seekers and
employers. The web site has a wealth of information for both employers and
job seekers. There is a resource center that links job seekers to national
employment databases and resources.
e-World Ag – Richard Machado
e-World Ag has created a portal site for agriculture growers to seek
information about the ongoing regulatory issues they face in their
day-to-day businesses. The company web site offers a host of information
to aid growers in the process of addressing permitting and other
regulations more efficiently.
Paden Inc. – Monte Paden
Paden Inc. is an IT consulting firm that helps its clients by managing
their networks and other applications. The company reports that there are
ongoing training programs in the community to train IT workers, but there
are not jobs that these students can fill in the community once they are
trained. They go to larger markets to seek employment.
California State University, Fresno – James Henson, Ph.D.
CSU Fresno is embarking on many innovative programs that will help the
region become more competitive. The University is engaged in creating a
technology incubator, development a center for entrepreneurs, wiring their
dorm rooms, and creating cutting edge instructional programs in wireless
West Hills Community College District – Michael Parker
The Community College District has recently implemented a state-of-the
art network to handle its voice, video, and data traffic. They have
installed fiber connections to all their Lemoore campus facilities. There
are 16 computer labs in the District and students have been able to
register for classes online for three semesters.
Kings County Library System – Steve Fjeldsted
The County System has recently been awarded a grant from the Gates
foundation to upgrade their computers and software. This upgrade has
allowed the County System to begin offering critical training programs in
their new lab in English and Spanish. The Library System is in the process
of upgrading its Internet connection to meet the growing demand from their
Hanford Elementary School District
The ten facilities in the District are connected to the wide area
network. The District has PC labs and three mobile wireless PC labs. The
District has funded much of its upgrades with e-rate funds.
American Ambulance – Frank Giannone
American Ambulance is using technology effectively to manage the
process of collecting and storing information related to ambulance calls
and managing patient information. Paramedics enter information into pen
based PC’s which then transmit the information on the call, the patient
and billing information to their central systems. This is an efficient way
to manage the data that is generated during each ambulance call.