CalRecycle Information Technology Services White Papers
The CalRecycle IT Services Branch strives to keep up with current technologies and improve services to our customers. An important part of the process of conducting projects and assessing technology is to document our efforts. We benefit substantially from reviewing the work of others and learning from their efforts in solving challenging technical problems. One of our objectives in posting these IT white papers is to contribute to this collection of knowledge so that others can hopefully benefit from our work.
The "white papers" included here are structured similarly to formal journal articles. We make every effort to ensure the white papers contain information that is factually correct, that they meaningfully convey the importance of the activity or project being described, and that they be complete enough that someone could replicate our efforts based on the description in the white paper, if desired.
Implementation of a Web-Based, Full Featured Agencywide Staff
Directory for Internal and External Use
Authors: Amarjot Biring, Chris Allen, Ryan Jones
Date: April 2017
Abstract: In 2000, the various boards, departments, and offices (BDO) that comprise the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) moved the bulk of their staff into a single headquarters building, with a goal of greater cross-BDO collaboration. Several IT projects were undertaken by CalRecycle (formerly the California Integrated Waste Management Board) to facilitate communication and collaboration among the BDOs, which use different technology bases. One of the first was the Agencywide Staff Directory, which allows staff from all BDOs, as well as the public, to view pertinent information about CalEPA and BDO staff in the new headquarters building as well as the field offices all over the state. This information includes name, email, phone, fax, organizational unit, assignments and, for internal access only, a photo of the employee and map of their cubicle location. This application was developed using Active Server Page technology and SQL Server, and has proven to be very effective in over a decade of use.
Do Minor Changes In Organizational Efficiency Matter? This Hypothetical Model Says "Yes"!
Authors: Gary Arstein-Kerslake
Date: March 2017
Abstract: Do moderate increases in organizational efficiency really matter, and can we quantify that? Making people more efficient matters because it allows them to get more work done with a given complement of staff resources, and it can be argued that it is more enjoyable for staff to work in an environment in which more work can be accomplished more easily. There is more of a sense of accomplishment as opposed to a sense of being just another cog in the machine. The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) Information Technology Services Branch (IT Services) continually implements new technologies with an eye toward improving staff efficiency and productivity. This white paper explores how small increases in efficiency can add up over time, effectively increasing organizational productivity on a measurable scale. The specific example included here compares two hypothetical organizations that begin with 750 PYs, and then compares the effective PYs for them over a 10-year period, with one organization achieving a 2 percent increase in productivity annually and the other experiencing a 2 percent decrease annually. The results are actually quite striking! After a 10-year period, the organization with an annual 2 percent increase in efficiency is functioning like an organization that has more than 900 PYs, and the organization with an annual 2 percent decrease in efficiency is functioning like an organization with about 600 PYs. But, they’re both still paying for 750 PYs of staff!
Providing Low-Cost Public Wi-Fi in a Government Building
Authors: Gary Arstein-Kerslake, José Rodarte
Date: December 2013
Abstract: Wi-Fi technology is available for very moderate cost, and Wi-Fi enabled devices are ubiquitous. CalRecycle has been an early adopter and implementer of Wi-Fi technology, and especially public Wi-Fi. Since its first Wi-Fi implementation almost ten years ago, CalRecycle has extended Wi-Fi throughout the organization, and has added semi-private and secure private Wi-Fi implementations where needed. Analysis of device type connections to the public Wi-Fi yielded a substantial variety in device types and a substantial level of use. To the best of our knowledge, CalRecycle is one of only a few California State organizations with this broad level of use of Wi-Fi which is available to staff in all of its office buildings throughout the state.
Specialized GPS Devices,How Good Are Smartphones for Measuring
GPS Coordinate Data?
Authors: Stuart Clark, Evan Levy
Date: June 2013
Abstract: As new technologies are constantly appearing, GPS tracking has become more integrated into mobile devices to allow users to incorporate an additional feature into the smartphone realm. Due to the number of applications that are available for smartphones, many are questioning the need to purchase a second device for tracking location rather than using the smartphone that they already possess. To assess if smartphones are a viable replacement for a dedicated GPS device, it is important to consider the following question: compared to specialized/dedicated GPS units, how effective are smartphones for measuring GPS coordinate data? To answer this question, it is vital to study previous research that has already looked into the accuracy of smartphones in comparison to dedicated GPS devices. Based on analysis of four articles discussing smartphone GPS accuracy, it is evident that smartphones are becoming viable as a substitute for a dedicated GPS device. As of the writing of this article in June 2013, smartphones are not quite as accurate as dedicated GPS devices but are accurate enough to provide reliable location services for most practical uses.
Assessing Cellular Data Coverage at Facilities
Located Throughout California
Authors: Steve Barnett, Roger Evans, Evan Levy
Date: February 2013
Abstract: Mobile computer devices (laptops, tablets, etc.) have been used for data capture by various organizations for many years. An important factor in CalRecycle’s assessment of the use of mobile devices for tire facility inspections is whether they could use CalRecycle’s existing web-based applications, and this would depend on whether Internet access (e.g., cellular data service) was available at the tire facility location. To assess this, CalRecycle extracted data on 1,698 inspections performed from May through December 2012. GIS analysis of FCC cellular coverage data identified which of the facilities were located outside identified cellular coverage regions, and an additional GIS analysis identified which facilities were located >5 miles from a major highway, a proxy measure for “remote” locations less likely to have cellular data service. A total of 29 sites met these criteria, and assessment of cellular data service at these locations (based on tools from AT&T and Verizon) indicated that Internet access should be available at 85 percent of these remote sites. A similar assessment performed on a random sample of 25 locations selected from the original 1,698 sites indicated that 95 percent of these locations should have Internet access available. Based on these analyses, CalRecycle concludes that Internet access should be available at 85 percent or more of the tire facilities in the state, and that inspectors should therefore generally be able to use mobile devices (e.g., laptops, tablets, etc.) accessing existing web-based applications to perform inspections at these facilities. Where Internet access is not available, inspectors would need to revert to the use of paper forms as they do at present.