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I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Darryl Booth, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Accela Environmental Health, and ask him a few questions about Accela’s upcoming annual civic tech conference. Darryl joined Accela last year from Decade Software, where he served as President and worked with sales, marketing and product development to deliver high-quality environmental health software, and he continues his mission here at Accela.

Have you attended Engage in the past?
I was fortunate enough to attend Engage 2015 not long after joining Accela last July.

What do you enjoy most about Engage?
So many bright minds in local and regional governments together, sharing ideas and passion! From leaders speaking at the General Sessions, to hearing that leadership echoed in customers’ breakout sessions, I enjoy the variety of topics and challenges, as well as the thought leadership, represented at Engage.

What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?
Accela enjoys an engaged user base and I’m looking forward to this opportunity to network and meet the frontline users and leaders. I’m particularly excited to see users from the 2015 environmental health acquisition represented here as well. It’s a great opportunity for them to get training and also meet — many for the first time — the Accela family.

What do you hope to learn at Engage 2016?
While I feel very plugged in to the Environmental Health segment, I intend to learn more about Accela’s other products, especially where partners and customers have used the Construct API to extend its core functionality.

What are you presenting on this year at Engage?
Accela Environmental Health, Accela’s solution for health departments looking to organize, streamline and automate back-office and field inspection processes. Environmental health covers a wide range of areas that touch directly on human health and the built environment. These are the people who make sure we don’t get sick at restaurants or from public pools, or pick up bed bugs at hotels or diseases from mosquitoes. But these agencies can also touch on such areas as hazardous materials management, septic systems and water wells, solid waste, tattoo parlors, summer camps, etc. They provide a vital service.

What interested you about presenting at Engage?
I’m excited to demonstrate the functionality of Accela Environmental Health to the interested – and the curious. Being able to share information between departments is the promise of the Civic Platform; the Building and Planning department, for example, sharing a record with the health department for a new housing development on a water well that needs to get inspected, or a health inspector noting during a restaurant inspection that the business needs to renew their business license with the city before the health department will issue their health permit.

What do you hope attendees get out of your session?
I hope they will see the similarities between their own challenges and health departments’ challenges, and how their environmental health group would benefit from our solution. Not to mention, how the entire jurisdiction will benefit on the Civic Platform.

How does your presentation reflect the event tagline, “Where Civic Tech Connects?”
Accela invested in environmental health as a part of fulfilling that Civic Platform vision, wherein an entire enterprise enjoys the transparency and efficiency of a consolidated and shared system: the Platform. Connecting government departments with each other (where they need and want to be connected) and tying in that crucial element of public health is key to achieving that vision.

How is technology changing the way environmental health departments do business and engage citizens?
Technology is changing and advancing environmental health in many ways. I’ve seen health departments, big and small, plotting their vector control data on maps to identify where the most effective places to set rodent traps are, and using analytics to identify potential infestations before they occur (based on a variety of variables such as water main break, reports of stray animals, abandoned buildings, etc.).

Some restaurants are using internet-enabled thermometers to constantly and accurately monitor refrigerator temperatures (which can help prevent food safety issues), and I can’t wait to see how health departments adapt to that new flow of data. And of course, the citizens benefit, too — simply being able to check out a restaurant inspection score online or on Yelp in one click, or submit a complaint through an app, or apply to start a new restaurant online at one’s convenience.

For more information about Accela Engage, visit the conference website.


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