Flagler County becoming ‘cooler and cooler’ for tech, official says

Posted by Ryan Ropero on Jan 12, 2014 1:00:00 PM

Flagler County is preparing to surge forward technologically with hopes to one day rival a big city like Seattle with its ability to draw tech-savvy residents, tourists and businesses, a county official said.

Like a racehorse holding back until the final furlong, Flagler County is preparing to surge forward technologically with hopes to one day rival a big city like Seattle with its ability to draw tech-savvy residents, tourists and businesses, a county official said. “Our county is getting cooler and cooler,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said during a recent meeting with reporters. 

Drawing more high-tech businesses like Coastal Cloud and Aveo Engineering, their employees, families, friends and guests are all part of the look ahead, which starts with an expansion and improvements to the Information Technology department to bring the county’s assets via the “worldwide web” with a few keystrokes on the computer. The County Commission at Monday night’s meeting will vote on whether to merge its IT resources with the sheriff’s, a move that if approved would increase the manpower and combined experience available to both entities. A public hearing is also scheduled as part of the meeting to address a request to build a new telecommunications tower on County Road 200 in Favoretta. 
The tower will be privately owned but will increase the cell signal on U.S. 1 between Flagler and Volusia counties, Coffey said. A tower in western Flagler County is also part of future plans but specifics have yet to fully emerge, he said. “These businesses could chose to locate just about anywhere,” Coffey said. “Cutting edge companies want to locate someplace that is cool. They want to know if they come here there are lots of interesting things for them to do.” 
The activation of eight webcams posted along the Intracoastal Waterway recently is one way to do that, Coffey said. Anyone with a computer or mobile device can check out the waterway and weather conditions in Flagler County sites such as Whitney Labs, located in the northern reaches of the county, with a view to the south, and Princess Place with a camera pointed across the bay. Three sites have two cameras, one pointed north and the other south: Bings Landing, Herschel King Park and the Moody Boat Launch. Discussion is already under way about adding several beach cameras to provide surfers with the ability to check the weather and waves from the comfort of home. It can be done “easily and for little cost” now that the cameras on the Intracoastal are up and running. 
“We’re telling the story of how beautiful the county is in a different way,” Coffey said. 
Bigger isn’t necessarily better, Coffey said, and plans to “advance” the county’s technology will shine a light on that. Eventually, Flagler County — with coordination of the Tourist Development Council — will be able to provide links between websites that will allow residents and potential visitors alike to see how the nearby bicycle paths wind and weave their way through county, as well as the bounty of favorite fishing spots, camping facilities, and possibly, spots to grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. 

“I think we’ve been keeping pace, but technology can jump ahead,” said Commissioner Barbara Revels during a follow-up phone interview. “We need to revamp what we are doing, because everything about the county should be right at your fingertips. With the cameras, people from all kinds of places will be able to contact their friends and family and direct them to the camera and wave hello.“
Free wireless connections, or Wi-Fi, are available at the Moody Boat Launch, Herschel King Park and Bings Landing. “People can be all excited about fish they’ve caught and send images to their friends,” Flagler County spokesman Carl Laundrie said. 
Laundrie will be at the Monday afternoon meeting to give the County Commission a demonstration of how the live feeds work.
The webcams can be accessed through the county’s website, flaglercounty.org, by clicking on a box on the lower right-hand side of the page that reads, “webcams & weather now on Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches." The County Commission will meet at 5 p.m. Monday at the Government Services Building, 1769 E. Moody Blvd. “It’s all interconnected. You can’t have cool stuff without improvements to IT. We’re working toward that,” Coffey said. “We can combine resources and find the right people to push technology, push websites, show off the cool initiatives we want to move forward.”

Topics: News, Press Coverage

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