News Flash

Emergency Management

Posted on: June 16, 2014

Pierce County wins national awards for District Court Live Chat and the FirstToSee emergency system

Pierce County leads the nation when it comes to using technology to better serve the Courts and protect the public in a disaster. That’s why the County has received three national awards for District Court’s Live Chat and the FirstToSee emergency system.

Pierce County District Court is one of the first courts in the Pacific Northwest – if not the country – to embrace live chat and online self-scheduling tools. The National Association of Counties (NACo) has recognized these innovations with a “Best of Category” achievement award. Self-service tools have lowered county costs and improved public access to justice.

The FirstToSee system provides the public and responders new tools for quickly sharing information during a disaster. This revolutionary system uses the latest mobile and social media technology to give emergency professionals greater situational awareness. FirstToSee just received a NACo achievement award for excellence in emergency management. Additionally, won an Apex Award of Excellence for outstanding graphic design and Web content.

“I’m incredibly proud and happy to see these departments recognized for their innovations in making government more accessible,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “By consistently finding new and better ways to provide outstanding customer service, District Court, Information Technology and the Department of Emergency Management are truly setting the standard for interactive government.”

About the projects

Pierce County District Court’s Live Chat provides customers with individualized online help, while self-scheduling tools allow customers to easily select a hearing date that best fits their schedule.

These improvements have reduced the number of customer calls by nearly 1,000 a month, allowing Court staff to meet increased demand with existing resources. Self-service tools also contribute toward three of the court’s core values: access and fairness, timeliness, and cost per case.

FirstToSee is a regional system that gives the public and emergency experts the power to see, share, and help. The free FirstToSee mobile app allows users send reports and photos of what they are seeing in an emergency. Meanwhile, emergency professionals can use the FirstToSee system to quickly filter incoming reports, as well as view them on a map. Additionally, the system can search and collect key information from social media, RSS feeds and news media.

FirstToSee was made possible through a federal grant and the partnership of Pierce County with Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER).

About the awards

The NACo Achievement Awards represent excellence and innovation in county government programs. This year’s winners represent 27 states and 97 counties. More information is available at

The 2014 Apex Awards is an international competition that recognizes outstanding publications from Websites to newsletters, magazines and annual reports. APEX awards were given in 122 individual categories within 11 main categories. More information is available at


John DeWeese, Pierce County Information Technology
(253) 798-6207
[email protected]

Erich R. Ebel, Pierce County Communications
(253) 798-6220
[email protected]

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