KENAI (AP) -- The Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles has come up with an idea to help customers in the Kenai area. A video camera has been installed so residents can figure out how long the line is with a quick check of the Internet.
''This is a really neat tool that you can use to see how busy our office is,'' said DMV office manager Patricia Plesko. ''Everyone has to deal with DMV at some time, and we always get calls asking how busy we are and what a good time to come in is.''
''We wanted to get this in all the major offices where we have the greatest volumes,'' said Mary Marshburn, director of the division.
The Web cam idea was hatched last year and has been up and running at two DMV offices in Anchorage and one each in Fairbanks and Palmer before Kenai was added. The system has recorded more than 77,000 visitations since June 2000.
''Other businesses have done this for one customer service purpose or another,'' Marshburn said. ''It sounded like a good idea to me.''
A new picture is taken every five minutes during business hours. The Web address is www.state.ak.us/dmv. Once there, look for the Web cam section.
Some employees have joked that they would like to work at the far end of the room away from the camera, Plesko said but none has really objected to the image being broadcast over the Internet.
''But then again, I don't have anyone saying 'me, me, me' to be next to the camera,'' Plesko said.
''We've tried in the last six years to take as much business as possible out of the offices and onto the Web,'' Marshburn said. ''But with some transactions people still have to see us, and this will allow them to see how busy we are.
''Certain times of day and month, we have our noses right at the waterline, and people can look on the Web cam and see if the DMV is packed from the comfort of their own home or office.
''It's great for them, and it's great for us.''
At about $200, the Web cam system is not expensive, Marshburn said. Beside the camera, all that was needed was some wiring and programming on the DMV's Web site.
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