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Old Dominion ITS Employee Wins Statewide Award for His Public Service Idea

Vaibhav Dani, lead database administrator with Old Dominion University's Office of Information Technology Services, has won a statewide award for public service for his idea of a real-time, location-specific alert system for all residents of Virginia.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Dani as the winner of the third annual "30 Day Sprint" competition, rewarding the best state employee innovation idea. Dani received a $2,500 award from Gov. McDonnell in a reception June 28 at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond.

"It was an exciting experience, and I'm very happy my idea was recognized," said Dani, who has worked at Old Dominion University since receiving his MS in computer science in 2001.

The "30 Day Sprint" competition generated nearly 1,000 innovation ideas from employees around the state. All recommendations will be considered for adoption, especially ideas to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Virginia state government.

When he submitted his idea, Dani envisioned it as a site where citizens can register their phones for text or email alerts to be notified during natural disasters like hurricanes and snowstorms. Alert systems exist, but Dani suggested to the state that a system that cross-references GPS data from the user's cellphone could result in emails with geographic-specific information, such as a hurricane alert for anyone in Hampton Roads.

"I've seen in our area, we've had thunderstorms every couple of days, and sometimes they develop very quickly," Dani said. "Having something that a state employee, or anyone in Virginia, could receive would help keep people safe."

Dani added that once the data is available, the network could be used to notify citizens about other services, such as DMV records or Amber alerts. "This is just a starting point. You could keep on adding applications to the alerts system," he said.

According to the state government release, the McDonnell administration will "glean inspiration" from Dani's idea, and consider all possible ways to implement a similar program.

"Virginians need access to emergency information through multiple outlets. Implementation of this idea will build and expand upon the success of the Ready Virginia mobile app. Virginia needs multiple touch points to connect with citizens and reach as many eyes and ears as possible in a given location, especially given the numerous sources of news and entertainment in today's market," McDonnell said.

Receiving a cash award was a wonderful surprise. But Dani is far more excited about his idea potentially helping citizens of his state.

David Koyozed, assistant director of database administration with ITS, is thrilled at the recognition for Dani, who works for him. "Dani routinely demonstrates his abilities and talents within the organization and is very innovative and creative in his thinking. It is great to see him recognized by the Governor's office. I am very proud of him and his accomplishment," Koyozed said.

The Governor's Public Service Awards highlight state employees who demonstrate exemplary service and dedication to the Commonwealth of Virginia and its citizens.

State employees were honored in the following categories: two Governor's Agency Stars; Career Achievement; Community Service and Volunteerism; Customer Service; Innovation; Teamwork; Health, Wellness, and Safety; and the "30 Day Sprint."

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