Chicago suburb connected with Notes

Officials of Buffalo Grove, Ill., a Chicago suburb, have been using Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes technology to wire their municipality and keep them on the cutting edge.

The town's 250 workers use the Lotus application more than 80 percent of the time that they are logged on to their terminals. The ubiquitous nature of the program has helped establish much needed consistency in the government's work, said Robert Giddens, director of management information systems for Buffalo Grove. "Lotus has provided the infrastructure any government needs to set up," Giddens said.

The latest applications of Lotus software involves the town's police, who are planning to use Notes to file incident reports from their patrol cars. The police will have the reporting function by the end of the summer, which will significantly decrease the time needed to file final reports and solve crimes, Giddens said.

"The old, paper-based system takes time, and authorities often had to wait until the next day to see if any needed information was missing," Giddens said. "The new system allows the supervisor to see the reports before the officers even get back to the office, and [the supervisors] can have their questions ready and answered immediately."

The town began using Notes in 1995 and within a year had standardized all of its addresses into one database, creating a powerful tool for "establishing consistency across all the databases," Giddens said. By standardizing the village's addresses on the system, it became easy to track a variety of information about an address, including any tickets or fines levied against a property, any ordinances requested, water usage or something as obscure as the number of times a resident reportedly left their garage door open at night.

Another application on the horizon involves Lotus' Domino document managing system, which Giddens called an "electronic filing system." The product allows government documents and reports to be scanned or typed directly into the system and then shared with whoever needs access to the information. It should be in place by mid-October, Giddens said.

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