Ken Grehm
Angelina Miller Ken Grehm

Director of Public Works/Road Commissioner
Placer County, Auburn, Calif.;
Executive Director
Placer County Flood Control and Water Conservation District
Population served: 400,000
Employees: 190
Budget: $100 million (CIP and operating)
Favorite technologies: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Google Earth

During Ken Grehm’s tenure, his department developed the county’s Traffic Accident Analysis System, which identifies high accident-rate locations and reviews the worst locations for improvements that reduce collisions. The system includes a GIS database that can automatically calculate accident rates on varying portions of roadway.

“GIS is not quite new anymore, but never before have I had such easy access to relevant information that laypeople can understand,” says Grehm. “The ability to not just tell, but to also show our customers information and trends graphically has greatly advanced our ability to get our customers on-board with our programs, and to ensure that we are focusing our limited resources to the areas that have the greatest likelihood of success.”

Grehm also says that Google Earth ( is his second-favorite technology: “What a great efficiency tool!” His crews no longer need to make countless field trips to view a site, because the online virtual map’s aerial views and street view functions allow them to analyze situations from the office. “Customers are amazed at times when we can describe from our desktop what they’re seeing in the field.”

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