Lisa Desmarais is touching all the bases in the information technology field. Experienced in the private sector, the nonprofit sector and, for the past 3½ years, the government sector, Desmarais appreciates the different goals and constraints that drive the technology agendas in these organizations.
Since January, Desmarais has had responsibility for technology in Kenton County. Those responsibilities are wide ranging, covering the police department and public safety systems, public works, detention center, animal shelter, county finance and accounting systems and departments in other jurisdictions such as the office of the sheriff and county clerk. Before that, Desmarais directed finance and IT for the city of Covington.
With a small but dedicated staff of five professionals, Desmarais supports all county technology infrastructure, local and wide area data networks, telephone systems and all servers and devices connected to the network. Two software developers maintain an array of new and legacy applications. These developers complement each other: one is a 20-year veteran with a deep understanding of the county’s history, how its systems evolved and the languages used to implement them; the other is a recent Northern Kentucky University graduate versed in modern development platforms and languages. With respect for each other’s backgrounds, this team cross trains and shares responsibility for supporting today’s technology while developing systems for the future.
Two desktop and server administration staff members support more than 250 personal computers and are engaged in a server consolidation effort to reduce physical servers from 70 to 45. A network administrator is responsible for connectivity and performance of a network that links seven county facilities and their connection to the internet.
That administrator has been fully engaged recently deploying a Voice over IP telephone system to replace the aging telecommunications system. Desmarais is proud that she has been able to combine that project with a major upgrade to fiber of circuits connecting county facilities. Doing these projects together provides great financial efficiencies for the county and will impress users with the performance and functional benefits.
Transparency of county finances, and functioning is increasingly important in the dot GOV world. Desmarais has a data analyst and project manager on staff, who are certified in geographic information systems and expert in using the massive amount of county data to promote data driven decisions. It is a great benefit to elected officials and the public to be able to justify and communicate the rational for decisions through the presentation of supporting data. Kenton County recently presented a new and innovative fee matrix for 911 services based on data analysis that considered land use (commercial / residential), population density, 911 call history and other data points.
There is also a digital communications specialist, who is responsible for county websites, media relations and the county’s presence on social media. This work, important and effective in many areas, has been a tremendous benefit to the county animal shelter. They have been able to use the website and social media to improve their connection with the public, much to the benefit of the animals in their care.