November 17, 2021 (Oakland, CA) – The East Bay Regional Park District has been recognized by Government Technology Magazine’s Special Districts Awards Program. The Technology Innovation Award in Operations honors the Park District’s rapid and innovative response in adapting to the uncertainties and disruptions of COVID-19. The District officially received the award at the Special Districts Recognition Summit on Wednesday, November 3, 2021.
Government Technology’s awards program recognizes innovation and leadership in special district agencies across the country. The Park District received this national award for its technology innovation enhancing internal operations as well as increasing engagement with the public during the pandemic, 2020-2021. Over the past decade, the Park District had invested in its personnel, facilities, and equipment, thus, making the transition to working remotely a smooth and successful process. Employees had remote access to District servers, use of Microsoft TEAMS for virtual meetings, One-Drive file sharing, and SharePoint for information sharing. Training on work skills, COVID protocols was made accessible 24/7 for all employees. An Employee Safety and Service portal was launched to capture employee inquiries and safety hazard reports, as well as to obtain information about emergency alerts and preparedness for wildfires and air quality.
During the pandemic, the Park District transitioned all its Board of Directors public meetings to virtual meetings on Zoom and YouTube, welcoming new and regular participants. The District used PrimeGov’s agenda automation software to streamline the dissemination and archival of our meeting content.
Working with county Health Officers in early May 2020, the District’s Health PSAs reached tens of thousands via TV, radio, and social media reassuring all that parks are safe places to visit during the pandemic while wearing face masks, observing 6-foot distance and safety protocols. The District’s virtual Fitness programs also created a healthy online community of 2,500 participants.
The District’s innovative and award-winning interpretive and recreation program: Parks to People: Digital Learning served 900,000+ people with 1,250 virtual programs and 200 videos shared across YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The videos include engaging discussions of native plants and animals in the regional parks, geology and history, parklands to explore, children’s story times, and how to have a safe and enjoyable experience outdoors.
Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor