Targeted information available for a wide range of topics

Dave Reinke
InfoLink Project Manager
APWA Washington Office

Most APWA members are familiar with the Professional, Educational, and Technical (or PET) Committees. These ten committees, each comprised of five APWA members, have a mission to serve as the "center of expertise" in specific subject areas. Some also have sub-committees on smaller, more specialized topics. Each serves as a focal point of specialized knowledge, and is tasked with sharing that knowledge through programs, publications, and training sessions, and providing APWA members with the resources for exchanging and developing ideas, information, skills, knowledge, and technologies for professional advancement. With such a broad mandate for knowledge gathering and dissemination, it makes sense not only that information on all ten subject areas can be found on InfoLink, but also that many of the unique benefits available and planned for InfoLink can be applied to the specialized focus of each committee. The ten existing PETs are:

  • Emergency Management Committee
  • Engineering & Technology Committee
  • Facilities & Grounds Committee
  • Fleet Services Committee
  • Leadership & Management Committee
  • One-Call Systems International Committee
  • Solid Waste Management Committee
  • Transportation Committee
  • Utility & Public Right-of-Way Committee
  • Water Resources Management Committee
Specifically, each of these committees can benefit from InfoLink in the following ways:

The Emergency Management Committee's focus is minimizing the impact and consequence of disasters. InfoLink can assist in two ways—through the separate "Public Works Responds" page set up in the aftermath of the 9/11 events as a resource site, and the Emergency Management section of InfoLink which connects users with links to federal, state, and local sites for disaster preparedness and mitigation. In addition to these features, future enhancements of InfoLink components are planned which can provide significant advances in infrastructure protection.

The Engineering & Technology Committee looks at applying engineering practices and principles in public works. In just a single example such as the adoption of standards, InfoLink can connect users to groups advocating new standards, the associations supporting them, and the vendors that would incorporate them in their products. From news of the initial announcement of the formation of working groups, to e-mail distribution and polling from government oversight bodies like NIST and FHWA, to final publication, access and input to the process has never been easier.

The Facilities & Grounds Committee studies the operation, management, and maintenance of public buildings, grounds, and parks. These projects are already benefiting from the increased communication the Internet has brought to project participants, but the next step is true collaboration on plans and projects. As InfoLink grows, the potential for project registration and collaboration can begin to be realized. By bringing together and providing appropriate access to participants at each stage of a project, timelines are compressed, mistakes are minimized, and administration simplified.

The Fleet Services Committee focuses on the operation, management, and maintenance of public sector vehicle and equipment fleets. InfoLink users are finding direct access to suppliers and vendors and streamlining acquisition. Many cities have posted their RFPs and RFQs online, and consolidation sites can provide quotes from different vendors for a particular piece of equipment. While InfoLink does not operate a surplus vehicle auction site, users will find listings from registered cities auctioning their own equipment, as well as vendors who can set up and host auctions for you.

The Leadership & Management Committee promotes integrity through high standards of leadership and management conduct. It would be hard to find any current article on Leadership or Management that does not reference the impact of the Internet. Previous InfoLink articles mentioned advances in broadband and wireless connectivity, which has profound impacts on where workers are located, their access to tools and information, and how they perform their job. One need look no further than APWA itself, which is continually enhancing web delivery of services, remote access, and administrative record keeping through e-business initiatives.

The One-Call Systems International (OCSI) Committee endorses facility damage prevention through education, guidance and assistance. InfoLink has a number of "One-Calls" already registered, not surprising given the natural fit with the One-Call role of serving as a central repository and access point for users. APWA's partner in InfoLink, IZOIC, has vast experience in the One-Call arena, and in addition to technological development on InfoLink provides specialized software for the Call Center marketplace.

The Solid Waste Management Committee promotes environmentally sound, cost effective and efficient solid waste management policies, practices, and programs. In addition to the wide variety of information available from municipal agencies across the country on topics ranging from recycling and leaf collection to landfill management technologies and solid waste collection, InfoLink provides it electronically—the true "paperless office," cutting down on the solid waste stream.

The Transportation Committee develops and advocates environmentally sound, sustainable, cost effective, and safe transportation systems that enhance the livability and quality of life in our communities. Their Winter Maintenance Subcommittee focuses on the development and use of the safest, most cost effective, efficient and environmentally sensitive winter maintenance technologies, equipment, materials and practices. The recent move by Environment Canada, naming road salt as a toxic substance, is a perfect example of the value of InfoLink. From access to the ruling itself, to reading accounts from local media, affected provinces and municipalities, to finding alternatives from users with similar circumstances, any issue of impact can be studied, shared, and understood online.

The Utility & Public Right-of-Way Committee promotes the best use of the public rights-of-way for the public good and provides a forum where stakeholders can come together to discuss common issues and best management practices that will promote the peaceful integration of all users and stakeholders within the public rights-of-way. It has three subcommittees (Construction Practices, Planning and Coordination, and Right-of-Way Management). In addition to information available through registered sites, the soon-to-be-delivered ROW Management Application that will be incorporated in version 3.0 is custom-tailored (literally!) for this group. Users will be able to map precisely areas of interest and view all activity within those areas, allowing complete management of excavation access, activity, and restoration.

Finally, the Water Resources Management Committee formulates policies and positions regarding legislation and regulations that affect public works practices in the disciplines of water resources management; provides forums for APWA members to exchange ideas, technologies, and information on public works practices; addresses water resources issues; and identifies and promotes research. InfoLink can be valuable in an advocacy role as well. Links back to APWA's Legislative Action Center provide information on all pending bills, contact information for representatives at the state and federal level, and more. And a search on InfoLink will provide current ordinances, local regulatory action, and complete access to local council meetings, some webcast live.

Each of the ten PET Committees has been set up to represent different areas of particular interest to the APWA member community, and yet each can benefit from InfoLink in a meaningful way, which serves to illustrate the wide range of information, applications, and knowledge available online. One of the real strengths of the Internet has been to make access to information easy, fast, and free, so make sure to harness the power of InfoLink for targeted public works information that is easy to search, quick to download, and available at no cost—www.apwa-infolink.com.

To reach Dave Reinke, call (202) 408-9541 or send e-mail to dreinke@apwa.net.