Joining Forces

Joining Forces

When jurisdictions share knowledge, everyone benefits

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When a team from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles set out to implement AAMVA’s State-to-State (S2S) Verification Service last summer, the Florida team’s leaders looked for an edge that could ensure a smooth adoption and help anticipate potential issues.

Dozens of states have successfully joined the S2S network since Wisconsin inaugurated the program in 2015, which checks to see whether driver’s license applicants already hold licenses or identification cards from other states. Still, implementing any complex, networked tech product is a daunting undertaking, with plenty of quirks, bugs and hiccups that could impede the rollout. The members of the Florida team wanted to dive into the details that had helped propel mature S2S implementations to success, and in September they figured out a way to do it: a site visit to their colleagues in Madison, Wisconsin.

The two-day trip was funded by AAMVA’s Jurisdiction to Jurisdiction Learning Visits program, which promotes cross-jurisdictional collaboration.

“Wisconsin has a nice, mature program, and this was just a huge benefit for the folks on our business side to meet the team from Wisconsin, and to get an idea of what they do and how they prioritize their work,” says Richie Frederick, deputy director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The Florida team came with a detailed agenda that covered topics ranging from the system’s user interface to how to resolve duplicates. The packed agenda was designed in part to ensure that the teams covered all the key bases, and in part because “we were all a little worried that we might get there and not have two days worth of stuff to fill,” says Frederick.

That turned out not to be a thing.

“Once we got into the room and just started talking, the agenda kind of went out the window because we had such good collaboration and discussion and we were just bouncing back and forth,” Frederick says.

There were takeaways on topics ranging from stakeholder outreach to office logistics. The Florida team noted, for example, how many of Wisconsin’s S2S employees have three computer monitors, ensuring consistent visibility into multiple aspects of the system.

The learning also flowed in both directions, as the Wisconsin delegation learned a few things from their Florida counterparts.

“It wasn’t just us spewing knowledge—there was quite a bit of back and forth,” says Cara Schamun, motor vehicle program specialist in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Citations and Withdrawals unit.

Given that collaboration is at the heart of S2S, perhaps it’s to be expected that the Wisconsin team welcomed the opportunity to give their Florida peers a peek inside their operation—not to mention feeding them Wisconsin staples such as cheese curds and kringle. Still, the team also embraced the chance to showcase Midwestern hospitality as well as its S2S expertise.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and learn different ways of doing things,” says Michael Madden, supervisor of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Citations and Withdrawals unit. “Building relationships from different states is key in order to ensure that we’re successful, because if we are all in this together, then we’re going to be able to solve a lot more problems.”

Now, the teams are considering getting together again in Florida, as well as scheduling visits with colleagues in other states. And as of this publication date, Florida completed a successful S2S implementation rollout in January.

Thanks to the Wisconsin visit, “we got rid of that fear of the unknown,” says Florida’s Frederick. A successful S2S implementation “is going to take time, but now our staff has seen that it can be done, and can be done well. That was hugely beneficial.”

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