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Local Perspectives:
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.

FRESNO COUNTY

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 Library

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 analysis.

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 received.

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 loopnet.com.)

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.

MERCED COUNTY

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 serve coffee.

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 transactions.

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 access.

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 eGrape. (etomato.agris.com)

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 wireline construction.

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 COUNTY

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.

TULARE COUNTY

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 Cooper

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 electronically.

MADERA COUNTY

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 meetings.

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 local non-profits.

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 case.

KINGS COUNTY

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 technologies.

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 patrons.

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.

 
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Last modified: December 31, 2004