Redlands selected for two prestigious Helen Putnam awards
The City of Redlands was selected as the winner of two 2012 Helen Putnam Awards for Excellence at last week’s League of California Cities Annual Conference in San Diego. Established in 1982 by the League of California Cities, the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program recognizes outstanding achievements by California's 482 cities.
Redlands was selected for the Helen Putnam Award for Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation for its Redlands 311 smart phone app. The City also received the Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government for the Redlands Emergency Services Academy. The Ruth Vreeland Award is one of the categories within the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence.
This is the first time the City of Redlands has been selected for the Helen Putnam Award. Redlands was the only City selected in 2012 for more than one award.
Redlands 311, the winner in the Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation category, is a free app available for various platforms, including the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7, that allows users to snap a picture of issues such as potholes or graffiti, add a message and send it directly to City personnel. The application uses geo-tagging technology to automatically provide the problem’s location, simplifying the reporting process for users.
The Redlands 311 app, developed for the City by CitySourced Inc., was among several initiatives the City of Redlands undertook as City leaders worked to overcome deep budget cuts and personnel reductions in the wake of the national economic downturn that began in 2007. Innovations such as the Redlands 311 app allowed City staff to more fully engage the community in addressing residents’ concerns while directing limited public resources in a targeted fashion. Through a partnership with GIS technology innovator Esri, headquartered in Redlands, the City received a deep discount as an early implementer of the technology.
Using the Redlands 311 app, smart phone users can report problems including:
- Abandoned bicycles, vehicles and shopping carts
- Loose, dead or biting animals
- Homeless encampments or nuisances
- Illegal dumping
- Illegal fires
- Illegal signs
- Parking violations
- Overgrown or problem trees and plants
- Roadway or sidewalk dangers
- Non-working streetlights
- Polluting vehicles
Smart phone users can download the app by searching for the words “Redlands 311” in their phone’s app store.
This is the second award for the Redlands 311 app. In May the Center for Digital Government seelcted Redlands 311 for its 2012 Best of California award for Best Application Serving the Public.
The Redlands Emergency Services Academy, winner of the Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government, was created in 1999 as a partnership between the Police and Fire departments, Redlands Unified School District and Crafton Hills Community College as a proactive effort to provide graduating high school seniors with positive exposure to the challenges, benefits and rewards of a career in law enforcement or emergency fire services. The weeklong live-in academy stresses the development of leadership skills and teamwork and the value of meaningful contribution to one’s community.
Graduating seniors from each of the City’s high schools compete for the opportunity to attend the academy at no cost to the students. Only 20-25 students and two alternates are selected. Approximately 300 students have completed the program. Many local businesses and other institutions provide support. The University of Redlands provides a dormitory to house participants, food services at a reduced rate, classrooms and recreational opportunities. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s and Fire departments open their Academy Training Center and facilities for instruction in weapons orientation, vehicle pursuit driving and live fire fighting. Many businesses donate money, food or other necessities. Initially RESA was funded through a San Bernardino County Schools grant and donations from the Kiwanis Club of Redlands. For the past four years, the program has been funded entirely through nearly $200,000 donated by the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.
Primary instruction is conducted by members of the Redlands Fire and Police departments who provide classroom instruction on technical and ethical aspects of the public safety profession and hands-on training in the challenges of firefighting, emergency medical response and law enforcement. Classes have included live fire training for structure and wildland fires, active shooter scenarios simulating a SWAT rescue operation, auto extrication, emergency vehicle operation, high-rise firefighting, felony traffic stops, swift water rescue, crime scene investigation, aerial ladder operations, search and rescue, firearm safety, rappelling, and arson investigation. Participants also join ride-along patrols with uniformed police officers or firefighters.
Since the program’s beginning, six RESA graduates have been hired by the Redlands Fire Department and two have been hired by the Redlands Police Department. Numerous other RESA alumni are employed full time for other local fire and police departments. Approximately 40 percent of RESA graduates have jobs in emergency services in some capacity.
The League of California Cities’ Helen Putnam Award for Excellence is given in memory of Helen Putnam, a California educator, mayor and county supervisor who viewed meeting one’s potential as the measure of success. The winning cities have made unique contributions to community residents and businesses, contributions which have resulted in lower costs or more effective delivery of services. The purpose of the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program is to recognize and promote the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions by city governments to:
- Improve the quality of life in local communities
- Implement efficiencies in service delivery and operations
- Provide services responsive to the local community
Sponsored by the League Partners Program, the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program was designed to recognize and promote the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions made by city governments each year.
Award Winners are recognized at the League of California Cities Annual Conference, in Western City magazine, and on the League's website at http://www.cacities.org/Top/Partners/Helen-Putnam-Awards.aspx.