Digital Counties Survey 2018: Winners Prioritize Culture, Collaboration and Automation
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Click through the rest of our story for detailed write-ups on each winner.
A county IT leader may encounter any number of existential crises: Budget cuts shred the IT workforce. Wildfires literally burn half the county to the ground. A new business process dumps 80,000 new users on the system. These are the kinds of things that can break an IT shop.
The winners of the 16th Annual Digital Counties Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government,* have tackled these and a range of other seemingly mortal threats, and come out shining. They’ve learned to cope with the unexpected and seen their thoughtful investments bear fruit in the face of unexpected challenges.
When the going gets rough, this is how IT gets going.
Nevada County, Calif., 1st Place, up to 150,000 Population Category
In Nevada County, headcount is down 26 percent from pre-recession levels, and CIO Steve Monaghan is learning to do more with less.
That means doing the big jobs first: Cybersecurity is critical and he’s attacked that. It also means leveraging IT assets. Investments in cloud have helped him to make the most of sparse resources. Mostly, though, Monaghan’s task as an IT leader has been to impart a sense of ownership to all involved in supporting the county’s technology needs.
“We spend a lot of time building culture around taking an entrepreneurial approach,” he said. “We’ve done workshops, we have done a whole service-management initiative aimed at defining everything we offer, every piece of equipment we manage, so that everything has an owner within IT. Everybody knows who is responsible for what, and we ask people to be entrepreneurs over their own services. We want them to run with the ball.”
Take for instance the network analyst in charge of the VMware farm. “His documentation is immaculate. He has a very tightly run ship. We know what we have, and as a result the service level is very high. We’ve never had an outage on that virtual farm, because he has really taken it to heart that those are his,” Monaghan said.
Same goes for the analyst overseeing the replacement of the first-generation VPN platform. “He taps into other members to support that, but ultimately he owns that. There’s a sense of ownership that drives the project forward, which in turn leads to an enhanced, more reliable product for the customer,” Monaghan said.
How can a government IT leader spark that entrepreneurial spirit? Much of it comes down to setting expectations. “In the last six months we had a Ph.D. in organizational development come in for multiple sessions to refresh our Values and Expectations document, to do a workshop geared around what it means to take ownership,” he said. “As IT leaders, we have to build these cultural processes, something bigger than any one project. That’s the secret sauce of delivering excellent IT services.”
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Arlington County, Va., 1st Place, 150,000-249,999 Population Category
CIO Jack Belcher doesn’t just want to be a back-end provider. He says his department’s job is to serve the public good, a mission he pursues with uncommon vigor.
“If you make sure the network is running, that the servers are secure — well, that’s what you are expected to do,” he said. “Taking it to the next step is what distinguishes a CIO from an IT director. That next step is all about understanding your community.”
It isn’t easy to know what the public wants or needs, or how IT can best facilitate. To meet the challenge, Belcher has gone right to the source, organizing a series of public gatherings around the theme of “Defining Arlington’s Digital Destiny.”
“The idea is to bring together leaders from education, from the community, from government, to think about what might be possible,” Belcher said. He’s hosted events on the future of education, the nature of work, and what it means to be an intelligent community.
These public gatherings have directly informed the IT agenda. Take for example the recently completed deployment of a countywide fiber-optic network. “These discussions transformed our vision of what to do with that asset,” he said.
Sure, the fiber could spur development and drive economic growth — they knew that going in. But with community input, the vision evolved. “We saw that we could provide an immense value in the form of digital equity, providing people in affordable housing with free broadband access. That helps break the bonds of poverty,” Belcher said. “It took these discussions to bring that idea to the surface and make it possible.”
Community input likewise helped spur development of a mobile project-tracker app to help keep residents informed about civic undertakings. “We want to make that data available in a form where residents can easily find out what we are doing. How are we spending our money? We want to leverage the technology to provide that level of transparency.”
When the CIO seeks citizen input, there’s risk involved. What if they ask for something extravagant? What if they put something entirely unexpected on the table? Belcher said a strong relationship with county leadership gave him the confidence to open that door. “You can’t do this unless your elected officials have the confidence that you are doing the right thing. There has to be a level of mutual trust,” he said.
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Dutchess County, N.Y., 1st Place. 250,000-499,999 Population Category
It’s not just that budgets are stagnant. It’s that, in a time of stagnant budgets, everybody still wants more. Towns want upgraded websites. Cops want cutting-edge technologies. For Glenn Marchi, commissioner of the Dutchess County Office of Central and Information Services, the challenge is to deliver on all that, without breaking the bank.
“Shared services are key to doing that,” he said.
This year Marchi’s team worked with public safety officials to bring online emergency 911 service, computer-aided dispatch, and new records managements systems for law enforcement and corrections. The initiative saved the police $500,000 by leveraging county IT resources, including existing hardware and multi-jurisdictional software licenses.
Marchi has taken the same approach in beefing up the websites of half a dozen towns, police departments and fire districts. His IT professionals will design a site and host it on shared infrastructure. By leveraging these resources across multiple uses, “we can design to exactly their specifications, and we can do it at a lower cost than an outside vendor,” he said.
Towns are free to use outside vendors, and Marchi says isn’t looking to compete with local private-sector IT providers. But he adds that in many cases, the county’s shared-service approach will prove the logical economic choice.
IT leaders looking to follow this model would do well to reach out actively to civic leaders. The Dutchess County executive hosts an annual Municipal Innovation Summit to ensure mayors and town council members know what is available to them.
“Our county executive leads that discussion, and anytime an IT solution pops up, my job is to share how that technology can enable a business solution or solve a business problem. I’m there as the CIO for the county to share how technology can be employed to achieve our specific strategic goals,” Marchi said.
Without such gatherings, it can be hard for a shared services initiative to pick up steam. “We have had seven newly elected town supervisors and mayors in the past year. They have no idea these services are even available,” he said. “It’s our job to tell that story.”
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Sonoma County, Calif., 1st Place, 500,000-999,999 Population Category
When wildfires swept through Sonoma County, Calif. in the fall of 2017, Director of Information Systems John Hartwig found the IT landscape as radically transformed as the rolling hills, now scorched and scarred.
“The wildfires put a lot of things on hold. Everybody had to step back and take a new look at the situation,” he said. Geospatial systems suddenly were front and center, along with document management capabilities. Website volume blew up exponentially.
“GIS, for example, had a huge responsibility in things like tracking the fire, tracking the road closures. All that had a spatial component to it,” he said. “The volume on the websites went up at least three times from everybody trying to seek information and find resources. With document management, suddenly everybody was processing requests that would be essential to us filing for federal aid. That means we needed a lot of forms and a lot of document-capturing tools to make sure our record keeping was clean, consistent and available for future reference.”
The key to success: an early investment in virtualization.
“We had made an advance move early on to virtual machines, where we were able to shift resources on the fly — storage, memory and processing capacity — to the applications that were most urgent,” Hartwig said.
The county had begun roughly three years ago to virtualize its server environment: An original inventory of more than 700 servers is now about 90 percent virtualized. That infrastructure delivered the flexibility and agility needed to spin up IT capacity and balance workloads in the face of the new, unexpected demands.
“It put us in a very good position to add to or share resources. If we have 50 applications that are critical to the response, it’s nice to be able to slide resources over to those applications,” Hartwig said. “I don’t think we could have had all these services up and running if we were still on dedicated equipment.”
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Montgomery County, Md., 1st Place, 1,000,000 or More Population Category
In Montgomery County, Md., the county runs the booze business. Last year that became IT’s problem, and it triggered a renewed focus on cybersecurity.
“The liquor system needed automated support for warehousing, distribution and point of sale. So it was decided that we would incorporate that into our relatively new Oracle ERP system,” said CIO Sonny Segal. That meant a sudden leap in the user base. “We are up to almost 100,000 external identities in addition to the 20,000 county identities.”
Segal already had a watchful eye on cyberissues, but with the massive influx of non-county users on the system, security became the focus of renewed attention. The IT team put new mechanisms in place to guard against spam and phishing attacks. They also tightened end-point management, effectively cutting enterprise vulnerabilities in half.
“We have taken a very aggressive stance on eliminating endpoint vulnerabilities through continual scanning and remediation,” Segal said. “We are not shy about taking end points offline and pursuing replacement and reimaging on a very aggressive schedule. Those things have paid off in the form of greatly reduced risk.”
Segal upped the security game by implementing tighter controls around IT devices, ensuring that all devices that touch county systems are registered for IT security oversight. He also uses dashboards and other reporting mechanisms to hold individuals and departments more publicly liable for their role in supporting the cybereffort.
“We have implemented risk-based dashboards that include the number of people who didn’t take cybertraining, the number of security instances that can be assigned to specific business units,” he said. “That all connects to our dedication to managing by measurement. Our chief administrative officer has each of the department heads accountable in public sessions for measurements in their business areas. Now security is one of those measured scorecards, and as result we have seen significant improvements in risk reduction.”
Click here to see all the winners in this category, and click through the rest of our story for detailed write-ups on each winner.
*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology’s parent company.
Up to 150,000 Population Category
Click points on the map above to learn more about each winner. Red indicates 1st place winners, yellow indicates 2nd place winners, green indicates 3rd place winners, and blue indicates winners that placed 4th through 10th.
1st Nevada County, Calif.
One of 10 Sierra Nevada agencies that were ground zero to the state’s formative Gold Rush, Nevada County, Calif., built on IT accomplishments to reclaim the No. 1 spot in the smallest population category for the second time in three years. Guided by a supportive Board of Supervisors that has set clear technology investment policy, a strategic plan focused on service and an enterprise technology reserve fund, the county of nearly 100,000 has expanded and refreshed online and tech offerings.
County supervisors prioritized innovation in their 2018 value statements, forming an innovation team led by the chief information officer. The county also held a Citizen’s Academy to educate residents on their government. It launched a new regional law enforcement activity map last month, and has created a new public communications position aimed at identifying ways to improve information pushed out to the public through social media and the Internet. The agency is in early stages on an enterprise-level contract management system and has implemented a new in-vehicle video system that fosters collaboration between its district attorney and sheriff’s office.
Nevada County's CivicPlus-powered public website went live in August 2017 with responsive design that eliminated the need for a separate mobile site. The MyNeighborhood app on the website offers parcel, land and property data with new layers documenting marijuana ordinance and roadway information; and the county’s Open Data Portal offers residents a better way to search 18 layers of GIS data. AskNevadaCounty, another app accessible through the website, uses Accela’s customer relationship management (CRM) system to sort questions in eight categories, submit service requests and get answers from six city departments. Plus, new kiosks facilitate residents’ access to probation, sheriff’s and building departments, enabling functions including probationer self-service and building plan submission.
2nd Albemarle County, Va.
Although it slipped from first to second place this year, Albemarle County, Va., (population 108,000) continues its success in transparency and efficiency for citizens. The county uses GIS-enabled apps to let the public view open building permits and important county records like building applications and parcel activity. Residents are also encouraged to give feedback on the county budget and stay up to date with e-newsletters, email and community meetings. The county Board of Supervisors authorized the establishment of a broadband authority to meet the area's growing Internet needs, and the authority has gotten a $430,000 grant to expand broadband and improve wireless coverage for first responders in rural Albemarle.
Albemarle considers cybersecurity an important concern. The county partners with the University of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville to discuss cybersecurity issues, and meets with other universities, school districts and localities statewide to publish the Cybersecurity Partnership for Virginia Cities and Counties report (funded by the National Science Foundation).
This region shares just one emergency communications center, and this year, the county successfully rolled out two records management systems for four public safety agencies to replace incompatible legacy systems. IT teams partnered to launch New World Systems for the police department and Image Trends for fire and rescue, as well as computer-aided dispatch system updates.
3rd Allegan County, Mich.
Third place is a familiar ranking for Allegan County, Mich., which finished in the same spot for counties of up to 150,000 residents last year. Despite this success, county leadership notes, however, that within its ongoing vision it needs to be “continuing to evaluate the technology itself to find efficiencies that will ultimately help offset increasing costs.” If there’s a simpler way to sum up the heart of gov tech efforts, we haven’t heard it. It all speaks to Allegan’s practicality. This is an efficient county that is, for example, prolonging the life of its PCs and laptops by using virtual desktops, thereby still enabling quick and responsive computing. Allegan has also redirected money saved there to cybersecurity.
Meanwhile, the county continues to use analytics and look at trends to tailor its website to customer needs, also using data to build new online services and improve upon existing ones. Data is also helping the county with law enforcement and emergency services deployment, for which it is using GIS and computer-aided dispatch mapping to enhance preparedness, noting emergency management events “rely on data sharing, real-time mapping and data system integrations.” This is especially important with an aging nuclear power plant nearby. The county is also engaged in smaller improvements such as replacing its online court calendar system and deploying digital signage that displays docket information in its courthouse lobby. It’s also improving its online veteran services site and its parks reservation system. Moving forward, digital inclusion is also a priority. The past two years, the county has worked with the Connect Michigan Public Services Commission to complete a broadband assessment. That info is now being used by local city leaders to guide projects aimed at increasing broadband access within their communities.
4th Mono County, Calif.
Mono County, Calif., is home to 13,981 residents, and while it may be small in terms of its population, it has big plans for the future. Mono County, which tied for fourth place in its population category, is currently working with the California Department of Transportation to explore using the Highway 395 corridor and the fiber-optic network that runs alongside it as a testing site for smart transportation technologies. The county is envisioning using Highway 395 as a testbed for autonomous vehicles and other emerging technologies, given its two-hour proximity to Tesla’s Gigafactory in Reno, Nev.
In addition to its smart transportation aspirations, Mono County has several Web initiatives as well. The Transparent Mono County website portal is expected to roll out this month and consolidate its open and transparent applications into one location, which will also feature the capabilities to allow users to retrieve information in three clicks or fewer. The county’s website also has an area for contractors and vendors to bid on its projects using a platform where they can enter their business profile, respond to open RFPs and receive notification of new projects.
4th Montgomery County, Va.
Montgomery County, Va., population 98,509, managed to hold onto its fourth-place spot for a third year in a row, this year tying with Mono County, Calif. The county continued its focus on cybersecurity with the completion of two cybersecurity assessments, one by the Virginia National Guard’s Data Processing Unit and the other with a private entity. Recommendations from those assessments will be implemented in a three-phase cybersecurity plan, the first phase of which has already been completed. The county also this year hired a full-time network engineer/security analyst to oversee software and system patches and address vulnerability concerns.
The county has opened a couple of new buildings, including a state-of-the-art dispatching facility for the newly established New River Valley Emergency Communications Regional Authority (911 Authority). The 911 Authority centralizes dispatch functions for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia Tech Police Department, and the police departments for the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. The Authority has plans to implement next-generation 911 capabilities, including text messaging, into its dispatch services in the future. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office also got 30,000 square feet of office space in a new Public Safety Building, and the Animal Care and Adoption Center opened its new facility to the public in April 2017. Animal adoptions have increased thanks to the improved environment in the new facility, as well as the implementation of a cloud-based animal care management site and a pet finder site. The county’s dedication to social media paid off last summer during a dog food supply shortage — a “code red” Facebook post saw 1,500 pounds of food donated within two days. A second "code red" for kitten food a month later reached nearly 17,000 people and was so effective that some area stores were sold out.
5th Napa County, Calif.
Napa County has been through a lot in the past six months. Its population of 142,456 went through a month-long wildfire in October, where devastation eventually spread across multiple Northern California counties. Staying in fifth place for the second year, Napa County is working toward a citizen-centric approach for IT with constituent safety at the forefront. With the wildfire came shocking realizations about weaknesses in emergency operations. The Emergency Operations Center purchased additional GIS technology to gain more knowledge on pertinent geographical data. IT is also working with Health and Human Services to create a data warehouse to connect data analytics capabilities to different programs in Napa. The existing 911 system will also eventually be replaced, extending service to American Canyon and Yountville in the process. During the fire when people weren’t being notified of what was going on, officials knew change was needed. IT is in the process of purchasing InformaCast, a notification system, to provide enhanced staff notification during emergency events. Currently in place is a NIXLE channel used to communicate emergency alerts, recovery information and act as a key source for community messaging and connectivity. NIXLE is also used to send text alerts on road closures, evacuation orders, shelter information and recovery details.
And despite the focus on getting better prepared for emergencies, traditional IT also got some upgrades. The county website was redesigned and moved to a modern content management system, creating more efficient access to GIS data. Throughout the year, IT leadership will continue beefing up security practices to better safeguard county data, regardless of its location.
5th Roanoke County, Va.
Roanoke County, Va., retained its fifth-place spot this year, continuing to build on its impressive array of open data and citizen engagement efforts with a new app that provides its 93,655 residents with information about the new federal Mountain Valley Pipeline that will run through the county. Through the Mountain Valley Pipeline Viewer application, residents can use an interactive map to view layers of information about the project, including various routes, mile-post markers, workspace areas and tax parcels.
Roanoke County gathered some of the information for the Pipeline Viewer app through the efforts of its newly formed Drone Team, which did a flyover of the project site to map the area. Created under the auspices of the county Fire and Rescue Department in order to help evaluate fire areas and find lost hikers, the Drone Team has quickly proven that it has many more potential applications than were originally envisioned for it. The county is planning on using the team to conduct inspections and create orthomosaics, 3-D meshes and more that will assist in future projects.
The security breach that affected the city of Atlanta at the beginning of 2018 was enough of a wake-up call for Roanoke County to decide that it needed to take a serious look at its own cybersecurity posture. While the county received a good score on a vulnerability assessment conducted by the Virginia National Guard, just above a four on a five-point scale, it discovered that it needed to improve its security training for employees and is already making plans to do so.
6th Franklin County, Va.
In Franklin County, Va., supporting residents and government operations has most notably centered on public safety. These efforts include ongoing improvements to the fire and rescue radio system, and a 911 dispatch fail-over plan with neighboring Patrick County. Additionally Franklin County is leveraging mapping and data to assess response times and make improvements to how public safety crews are deployed. Mapping critical infrastructure, like gas lines, has also been an ongoing effort to keep the county’s 56,000 residents and public safety teams safe during emergency situations.
When it comes to Internet connectivity, Franklin County is taking a proactive approach to broadband through public-private partnerships. The county is currently assessing where technology and service is most lacking and using that information to prompt conversations with service providers about how to fill gaps and design an inclusive coverage plan.
Cybersecurity continues to be a work in progress in the county. Awareness training and cybersecurity insurance are part of the plan, but the county’s detailed strategy continues to evolve as its needs are identified and change. Like many other counties, Franklin is not doing this work unhampered. The state continues to add requirements while funding recedes, and changes to the tax base have prompted discussions about where to go next. A rapidly aging population is compounding the issue of revenue and taxable income. In spite of these challenges, the county is looking to redevelop a business park to move the needle and create more opportunity for tax revenue to make its way into county coffers.
6th York County, Va.
For a county in the smallest population category, York County, Va., has a surprising number of leading technology efforts underway. Many endeavors underline a strategy of upgrading and streamlining systems to operate as efficiently as possible. Examples include consolidating data centers and a new financial management system. York County’s commitment to transparency is demonstrated by a public portal now in development that will offer timely financial information, including tax and real-estate data, on a public dashboard. Engagement tools in regular use include online surveys, a resident notification service, video streaming and an active Facebook presence that has increased its followers by more than 200 percent over the past year and a half. When it comes to public safety, the county sheriff’s department is using drone technology to enhance crime-fighting efforts and lobbying to allow the use of drone-captured data in judicial proceedings. High marks also go to York County for its cybersecurity practices, which it has built upon significantly in recent months. An additional layer of intrusion detection now safeguards police bodycam video on its way to the cloud, as well as the county’s open Wi-Fi network. In-depth traffic analysis helps keep tabs on user activity and ongoing awareness training is continually enhanced to meet evolving threats.
7th Skagit County, Wash.
Located north of Seattle, Skagit County, Wash., faces a host of issues despite the state’s overall healthy economy. Technology is expected to play a key role in improving the county’s public health concerns, for example, with the deployment of a software tool that will evaluate the effectiveness of county health initiatives. New mapping and analytics software will also help the county prevent drug overdoses and deaths. Skagit is mounting a major community engagement initiative that will make meetings more productive and draw in underrepresented groups, and technology will make the county’s engagement more interactive. For example, the government expects to have an online survey tool that will allow commissioners to see how well they are engaging the community, and how they can improve engagement and measure feedback around such issues as new infrastructure for ferry service. The county has also modernized service operations with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library service models, and is the first county to implement a “one-stop” property search that integrates data from separate internal systems to provide a common view of information on its public website.
8th Summit County, Utah
With a population of just under 40,000, Summit County comes in eighth place in its population category for its work in public safety and emergency preparedness, among other initiatives. In reviewing its disaster recovery plan in 2016, the county found they it did have not the computer power to set up a hot site during a disaster. The county purchased the necessary equipment and installed it in late 2017. It included three Dell R630 servers running VMware VSphere 6.5 and a Dell Compellent SC4020 Storage Array with 30 TB of usable disk space. This was a small build, but major for a smaller county and significant, as the county can now run all its applications and storage on it if the main systems were to go down. The setup is a mirror image to the current one and can be flipped and installed in a few hours.
One of Summit County Council’s top strategic goals is to improve the transportation system by reducing traffic congestion. The Bike Share mobile app was a pilot started in 2017 in the hopes of reducing traffic in the summer. It allows residents to register by website or smartphone and pay for rentals, and the “electric bike share” was a huge success. The public signs up easily via smartphone and the website provides statistics on the usage of bikes.
9th Chatham County, N.C.
Chatham County, N.C., is a newcomer to the rankings, finishing 9th for jurisdictions in its population category. Located in the Piedmont area of the state, just west of Raleigh, Chatham County adopted a new comprehensive plan in late 2017. The county notes that “until that plan was adopted the efforts of Chatham County tech efforts have been pretty traditional.” In the months since it has been put in place, however, the tech team has been rebranded "Chatham IT" and now includes representatives from all county agencies that service other departments. This helps to align tech efforts with ongoing work to improve the overall county government while also continuing traditional IT support. Technologists in Chatham have worked hard to make themselves more visible so that their work is included in all ideas and vendor efforts.
In terms of public-facing work, the comprehensive plan has been published online in its entirety to foster transparency and accountability. While discussions have been had around providing more open data, work has not progressed past the discussion phase. The county website, however, is being reworked with a citizen-centric vision that has already led to the additions of a permitting portal and e-notices. Chatham is also working to collaborate with local municipalities to help bring broadband to unserved and underserved areas, with one specific effort taking the form of grant applications for funding. Throughout the survey, however, what is perhaps most striking about Chatham is its potential for the future. Tech and innovation work at the moment is a bit modest, but with the comprehensive plan now in place, a commitment is being made to incorporating it into more efforts moving forward.
10th Gloucester County, Va.
A sparsely populated coastal region, Gloucester County, Va., cites developing wireless broadband throughout the area as one of its top priorities, an effort that recently resulted in a new public-private agreement with Cox Communications. And in January 2018, broadband was made available for 96 residential and 20 commercial properties in the northern half of the small county, home to a total of fewer than 37,000 citizens.
County meetings are streamed live to residents via the Granicus platform, while other avenues to encourage citizen engagement include text-to-voice Readspeaker via the county website, which also makes more information around budgets and compensation available. In additional engagement efforts, Gloucester County is active on social media, communicating with constituents on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. This year the county also updated its website, streamlining services to citizens and making content ADA compliant.
Gloucester County is in the process of syncing currently siloed databases and systems, an effort that could lead to the development of dashboards, data-consolidation and error-proofing. They are also working toward implementing a central ERP system to create efficiencies across the agency. In the interest of creating strong cybersecurity with a small footprint, the county has moved several key applications to software-as-a-service and other hosted environments.
150,000-249,999 Population Category
Click points on the map above to learn more about each winner. Red indicates 1st place winners, yellow indicates 2nd place winners, green indicates 3rd place winners, and blue indicates winners that placed 4th through 10th.
1st Arlington County, Va.
Arlington County is a first-place digital county for the third year running. Of note among an impressive array of comprehensive initiatives are the county’s engagement efforts, where they continually demonstrate a commitment to service delivery that aligns with citizen priorities. To standardize on their own proven strategies, the county has published a six-step public engagement guide outlining a process for capital projects guided by principles including inclusion and mutual respect, timely and accessible communication, transparency, and accountability. The county is also making strides on open data, with an advisory group weighing in on efforts like an inventory of countywide data, identifying data-sharing opportunities, establishing governance policies and partnering with local universities to extend analytics capabilities. New online tools include an internally developed library app that offers users geolocation, bar code scanning, notifications, meeting room booking and catalog search features.
Collaborative endeavors include serving as host to the first regional government chief information officer summit to facilitate coordination between local jurisdictions on technology and innovation-related issues. Along those same lines, the county is looking into a partnership with area public schools to share network and telephone systems to make operations more efficient. When it comes to cybersecurity, Arlington County has added many new and upgraded tools to its arsenal to guard against phishing emails, ransomware and malware, as well as other threats to the network. A “quick-step” button gives staff a simple way of passing suspicious emails along to IT staff as attachments. To fortify its disaster recovery posture, the county is transitioning from its two county-based data centers to an “active-active” data center setup off-premise in colocation facilities.
2nd Charles County, Md.
Advancing into second place since last year, Charles County has a long-running history with the Digital Counties survey — and 2018 is no different. The county’s ability to build upon its citizen-centric focus plays a large part in its success. Transparency between the locality and constituents is key — and making strides to connect broadband in rural communities is a big piece of the effort. Charles County has been working with cable TV franchises as well as private Internet service providers (ISPs) to help extend connectivity to rural areas.
Expansive online initiatives also help get citizens involved. The county website provides easily navigable resources, including a transparency page to view county budget information, audit reports, and salary data at any time and an interactive checkbook. The GetConnected program also became a mobile-friendly tool that helps connect residents and most of the county’s social media links, all on one page. Internally, the county’s Institutional Network (INet) connects over 120 anchor sites and city departments.
Strengthening cybersecurity efforts continues to be an area of focus for Charles County IT. The Cybersecurity Awareness Training program provides a curriculum for and assessment of full-time and part-time employees in best cybersecurity practices. As mentioned last year, the county chose to retain its cybersecurity insurance to guard against breaches. Taking it one step further, the county will test its own network by undergoing a Comprehensive Risk Assessment.
3rd Cabarrus County, N.C.
Though investing heavily in education and school construction, Cabarrus County, N.C., has continued to support and fund technology initiatives to automate and consolidate services, create shared services, and increase collaboration between departments and jurisdictions. The county partnered with SeamlessGov to transform the way citizens interact with the government and complete a mobile-friendly website redesign with user-optimized content. The new site offers an intuitive and consistent user experience that modernizes citizen/staff interactions. The site provides an integrated live chat feature with a chatbot that offers articles from a new help portal. And if the article doesn’t meet the citizen’s needs, they are connected to an integrated help desk contact form.
The county’s Open Data platform, using Esri ArcGIS online subscriptions, was redesigned for mobile access to provide county data; support local, regional and national collaboration; and provide self-service access to residents, businesses, municipalities, researchers and economic developers. The county also boasts new informational video vignettes to engage and inform citizens about government activities, services and events.
4th Boone County, Mo.
Boone County, Mo., home of the University of Missouri, rose from 10th place in its category in 2017 to fourth place in this year’s survey. Located in the literal heart of the state about midway between Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis, Mo., Boone County is just a short drive north of the state’s capital. The jurisdiction’s most significant accomplishment in the past 12 months was perhaps the ongoing redesign of its website, more than half of which is now live and available to the public. Like many jurisdictions, Boone is using this redesign to make its overall Web presence more user-friendly, complete with enhanced access to services and data. To that end, the redesign is being guided by citizen-centric research, which has already led to new features such as embedded social media feeds, mobile-friendly functionality, and consolidated menus. Work on the website will continue moving forward in phases.
In terms of internal improvements, much has been done for emergency responsiveness. Last year, the city and county 911 services were consolidated, and they have now moved into a new centralized crisis management hub. Responders and adjacent personnel have also transitioned to new software and a new database that make it easier to share information and do things in the field such as record road closures with a mobile device for subsequent upload to public-facing platforms. Hiring processes have also become more efficient throughout the county, with many moving from paperwork to a digital portal. Although much of the work in Boone is practical, there is innovation underway as well. One such project includes a collaborative effort between Boone County IT, the University of Chicago and the Corporation for Supportive Housing to develop a data aggregation tool to identify citizens in need of homelessness assistance or other services.
5th Davidson County, N.C.
Davidson County, located adjacent to Winston-Salem, N.C., has been a leader in performance-based budgeting for more than 15 years. By focusing on outcomes and evaluating programs by measuring the relationship between resources and results, the county has saved over $29 million during that time period. A key driver in performance budgeting has been technology. For example, Davidson has invested in document management software for its human resources department that has eliminated inefficient paper management while freeing up valuable space once occupied by filing cabinets.
The county also attributes its open, transparent government policies and practices to the success of performance-based budgeting. Examples include live streaming of all commissioner board meetings and a public-facing budget and financial dashboard that shows citizens how and where county funds are being used. To bolster its IT security needs, the county has been carrying cyberinsurance for the past six years. This is in addition to several comprehensive cybersecurity measures taken by the county to protect its information assets.
5th Pitt County
When it comes to providing improved health care for citizens, Pitt County, N.C., which serves 175,842 residents and ranked fifth in the 150,000-249,000 population category, took on two health-care-related initiatives.
In a public-private partnership, Pitt County teamed up with Vidant Health to leverage the company’s investment in electronic health records. In 2017, the county finalized an agreement with Vidant to service resident needs by using the company's hosted electronic health record system. The county found it provided a better health outcome for residents while keeping a lid on costs. PulsePoint, which launched earlier this year, is a public-facing mobile app that lets CPR-trained residents volunteer as first responders in emergencies by connecting to Pitt County’s 911 data system. This app, along with the Vidant partnership, aids the county in its three-year Technology Strategic Plan, which aligns technology initiatives with the county’s mission and goals.
Other initiatives from Pitt County include the addition of a location-based open data platform from Esri, which features frequently-requested information in user-friendly formats. Self-service tools allow citizens to filter, sort and export many types of data, including planning and permitting, land records, education and parks and recreation. The tool is a vastly improved resource compared to the previous county data portal. In addition, a new complaint tracking tool for environmental health allows staff to better monitor conditions and predict future outbreaks.
6th Delaware County, Ohio
Delaware County has taken a number of steps to better communicate and engage with constituents. A farming community north of Columbus, Delaware County is also the fastest-growing county in the state, making improved opportunities to connect with residents all the more essential. Some of these improvements include rebranded visuals such as the county website, which was relaunched in April 2018 after a seven-month overhaul. Public meetings are live-streamed via YouTube, which allows for viewing on mobile devices. The county has also turned to Survey Monkey as well as social media platforms for feedback from residents related to county infrastructure needs.
In June 2018, the county plans to have launched its Text 911 service, which allows the public to send text messages to the Emergency Communications Dispatch Center. And in the Clerk of Court office, court documents can now be e-filed, and search capabilities are now available for attorneys and the public.
Meanwhile, the Delaware County Auditor is now using remotely sensed infrared imagery technology to detect crop types, total acreage and other information. The county is also putting drone technology to work, using UAV imaging tools to inform status updates for the public on various county projects. Other notable efforts include tangible steps toward reducing paper use, and tablet computers issued to county assessors to encourage increased productivity in the field.
7th Union County, N.C.
In Union County, N.C., technology is not about the shiniest new tools or throwing money at problems — it’s about meeting the needs of the more than 222,740 residents and county staff. With a dedicated IT team of just 14, the county has been able to meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment while investing in areas that will serve as the foundation for future innovations. One such example is efforts to implement data standards to ensure that digital records are not only secure, but accessible for future users. In a similar vein, IT staff are evaluating outdated legacy systems for retirement and pushing to digitize physical documents. County staff are also working to create an interdepartmental form and file structure for the planning, inspection, tax and registrar departments. This will improve efficiencies and simplify home purchase paperwork across the four departments.
When it comes to cybersecurity and resilience, Union County makes a valiant effort to defend its IT infrastructure — even in the face of harsh and sometimes dangerous weather. In addition to having a full-time cybersecurity professional dedicated to securing tech assets, an off-site location protects county data from the likes of hurricanes, tornadoes, severe winter weather and even earthquakes. Data is backed up nightly and checked to ensure it is intact and uncorrupted. Plans are in the works to relocate the backup center.
8th Onslow County, N.C.
Onslow County has appeared on lists of the places in the U.S. where opioid abuse is at its worst, and in response its leaders directed IT to help set up a detox center in cooperation with a group of public and private organizations. The department has helped establish the necessary IT infrastructure to run the center when it opens later this year.
The county has committed to opening its GIS data and has published some very utilitarian data sets online, such as permits, health inspections, flood ratings and video of county commission meetings. It’s on its way to a more general approach to open data beyond the geospatial offerings.
In an effort to drive innovation, the county has set up an idea incubator meant to act like an internal startup where employees can put forward creative suggestions. That atmosphere of support for thoughtfulness extends to IT’s methods for staff retention and growth; it prides itself on listening to employees’ ideas and treating mistakes as “paths to growth.” It is also working on setting up an academy where employees can hone leadership and management skills.
Going forward, performance measurement and management will be a big area of emphasis for Onslow County. It is planning to convene a committee that will work on aligning performance metrics with goals. The IT staff will support that effort by using cloud-based business intelligence software and setting up internal and external performance dashboards.
9th Paulding County, Ga.
Paulding County, Ga., which has nearly doubled in population since 2000, earned ninth place in its size category for an emphasis on connecting more than 152,000 residents to services around the clock, expanding its level of cybersecurity training to staff, and updating its existing Internet presence. Officials in the suburban county outside Atlanta already reach citizens via virtual town halls, live-streaming board meetings, and on social media, including via their Facebook site and YouTube channel. Residents can make service requests, register for programs, pay fees, and research voting, land and parcel data via the county website.
But officials are enhancing the city website to aggregate social media connections and include a blog from the chairman. The new site is expected to go live later this year. During the next 12 to 18 months, officials will also improve their expense transparency with the deployment of an Open Checkbook application; and make additional use of voice messaging apps. Also on the way in the next two years are self-service kiosks for citizens and expanded use of digital signage.
The county maintains 12 miles of fiber-optic cable underground and its fiber plant connects to a Tier 1 provider, but future plans are to use special tax monies to connect the plant to a second Tier 1 provider for redundancy. The agency backs up its data nightly, and maintains disaster recovery and continuity plans, but has hired an outside cybersecurity firm to assess staff — and has noticed improvement as a result. Additionally officials have secured their firewalls, and have conducted annual penetration testing.
10th Jackson County, Mich.
A shift in IT leadership this spring means Jackson County, Mich., is in a bit of transitional period, but it has big plans for using technology to help move the county forward. IT’s goals are aligned well with the county’s strategic plan, with particular emphasis on economic development, safe and healthy communities, and government efficiency. The agency is focused on making as many citizen services available online as possible to avoid any unnecessary trips to county offices. Going forward, plans include continuing to update online offerings, developing their GIS division, and implementing mobile apps and Google Home capabilities.
Strengthening the county’s cybersecurity posture tops the IT department’s list of priorities, and staff members are looking into cyberinsurance, as well as ransomware prevention tools, security-as-a-service and data encryption enforcement. Jackson County is also working on its disaster recovery plan, identifying what operations would be mission-critical in the event of a major outage and actively using GIS to determine points of need in its infrastructure and network. On the public safety front, the county has plans to implement next-gen 911 and video surveillance in the near future, along with some use of drones.
250,000-499,999 Population Category
Click points on the map above to learn more about each winner. Red indicates 1st place winners, yellow indicates 2nd place winners, green indicates 3rd place winners, and blue indicates winners that placed 4th through 10th.
1st Dutchess County, N.Y.
Dutchess County, N.Y., claimed the top spot in its population category this year by putting significant emphasis on connecting with residents and finding new ways to innovate and create efficiencies countywide. The county’s Office of Central and Information Services (OCIS) lists citizen engagement as its No. 1 priority, an effort clearly evident in its robust social media presence to communicate and maintain transparency with residents. Expansion of online services, including GIS, electronic payments and more, has created $15 million in annual savings for the public. Further, OCIS is working on redesigning its online presence with a focus on mobile-first and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as industry standard best practices for county Web applications, including headlines that can be read by Amazon Echo devices. Citizen-centric plans for the next one to two years also include texting, Google Home capabilities, chatbots and more.
Shared services are key to OCIS’ work and include the appointment of a county shared services coordinator and 32 shared services available for cities. The county also offers a $1 million annual grant program to incentivize cities to use more shared services. Along these lines, one of Dutchess County’s big projects for 2018 is to upgrade its Emergency Public Safety Program, including 911 computer-aided dispatch among other public safety technologies. The county has announced an agreement to partner with the city of Poughkeepsie Police on these upgrades, which has already saved the town $500,000 before the system even goes live later this year.
To strengthen its workforce, OCIS is expanding business partnerships with area colleges to recruit diverse tech talent and foster an inclusive environment. The agency has also invested heavily in cybersecurity training for county staff, and has made investments in cyberinsurance, as well as ransomware prevention and response to bolster its security enterprisewide.
2nd Chesterfield County, Va.
Chesterfield County recently updated its open data policy and created an enterprise data governance strategy, a backdrop on which it can encourage more information sharing between departments.
The county has worked with regional partners on several projects, including a cross-jurisdictional cybersecurity partnership, creating a website to promote education and awareness about opioids in the area, participating in a health and human services-related platform to share data and help cut down on duplicate entry, and police department teamwork on mapping crime.
Chesterfield IT has invested real resources into establishing a culture of creativity and relationships, setting up the technology infrastructure to allow telecommuting, which 65 percent of its staff takes advantage of for parts of each week. The department also uses a competency tool to identify specific areas where staff could use training or career development, and then recognizes and rewards them for pursuing that new knowledge. There’s also a mentorship program that pairs up employees with leaders. Since 2013, the vacancy rate has dropped from 18 percent to 7 percent.
The teleworking option, along with the county’s heavy use of the cloud for email, file storage and other applications, is also central to its plans to keep working in case of emergency.
The county’s budget for the next fiscal year includes a $1 million increase to support innovation and enterprise initiatives. Among the work it’s taking on: Setting up a cloud-based enterprise business intelligence platform, setting up big data analytics for police and fire department sensors and identifying commonly-FOIA’d information so it can be published on the county’s open data platform.
3rd Frederick County, Md.
Frederick County, Md., which ranked third among agencies with 150,000-249,999 residents in the 2016 Digital Counties Survey, leveraged agency collaborations, citizen engagement, key new tools and population growth to earn third place this year in the 250,000-499,999 population category. Its IT organization leads an IT Technology Council to further interagency collaboration between county and municipal public safety, library and education agencies. The Livable Frederick Master Plan offers a collaboration framework for other agencies, the private sector and community groups. In the next year, county emergency management will link its computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system to adjoining counties to reduce dispatch times.
The county executive has made citizen engagement a priority; the agency surveyed residents in support of the agency’s budget and streams budget presentations and town halls, addressing comments in real time via Facebook Live. It also held an online chat with parks and recreation and reaches residents through many social media platforms. The county, which now serves more than 252,000 residents, reaches them via a responsively-designed website; online apps that use mapping to enable the reporting and tracking of road conditions and issues; and a Notify Me app that offers text or email notification on specific issues, job and bid postings and emergency alerts. The county is seeking a consultant to identify key performance indicators that could be displayed in public-facing dashboards.
The county’s IT organization is using a project portfolio management tool to prioritize and assign staff to key projects. It recently deployed a security incident event management tool using artificial intelligence and machine learning to scrutinize real-time information for potential security issues, and stood up a new Cyber Security Operations Center offering real-time assessment and analysis. Going forward, security officials plan to procure penetration testing tools and mount a phishing awareness campaign.
4th Douglas County, Colo.
After finishing first in last year’s 250,000-499,999 population category, Douglas County, Colo., has dropped to fourth in the current survey, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t progress being made there. In fact, the jurisdiction has a pretty long list of new tech and innovation projects that have gone live or into development this year, including an Ask Douglas County skill for Amazon’s Alexa, a multitude of new GIS apps for both internal and public use, an elaborate expansion of its existing open data portal, a new GeoHub with a wide breadth of layered maps, integrated Waze data to help new transportation projects, and more. As Douglas County notes, its population is tech savvy, and 90 percent of constituents have high-speed Internet connections at home, which has led to a situation where citizen demands require that the jurisdiction’s tech and innovation work keep pace. This is varied work, ranging from publication of financial data dating back five years to expanding the range and speed of Wi-Fi available at the Douglas County Fair.
Internally Douglas continues to do important work in the area of cybersecurity, faced as all jurisdictions are by an ever-evolving set of more complex threats. To this end, Douglas County is using new security technologies, extensive security awareness training for its IT staff and improved cyberincident response plans. As many jurisdictions have, the county has also moved to using DocuSign, which enables electronic signatures that lead to more efficient internal workflows, as well as new e-procurement systems. In terms of the future, innovation work continues. Douglas County is, for example, working to grow its GeoHub into its primary open data site by 2019. Drone usage also continues to expand, with new uses for that tech including for search and rescue and weed control.
5th Durham County, N.C.
Durham County, N.C. — population 312,000 — has jumped from its previous 10th place to fifth place this year in the Digital Counties Survey. The county’s strategic plan focuses on five goals: Community and Family, Health, Secure Community, Environment and Visionary Government. The Computers 4 Kids program is part of the Information Services and Technology department’s commitment to Community and Family. The program refurbishes computers and partners with local organizations to redistribute the computers to area nonprofits, Durham Public Schools and North Carolina Central University.
New apps from Durham County indicate its extensive efforts to meet citizen needs. The county Department of Social Services launched a mobile app to let citizens submit documents for Food and Nutrition Services, Medicaid, Work First (employment services) benefits or Crisis Services applications. The goal is to help people avoid multiple in-person trips to county offices.
A joint city-county portal and app, Rate: Market Rates Location: Glasgow, Scotland
DevOps Engineer JP Morgan is seeking a DevOps Engineer to join a newly formed team in Glasgow for an initial 12 months contract. Candidates must have experience working with a variety of database technologies amongst the skills below and will be trained on cyber security as part of their role. The Cybersecurity & Technology Controls organization (CTC) within JPMorgan Chase & Co. operates as part of Global Technology directly accountable to the CIO of the firm and providing cybersecurity services to all lines of business (LOB) across JPMC. The CTC organization's objective is to ensure that JPMC is able to effectively detect, prevent and respond to cyber threats against our technology & business infrastructure. The DevOps Engineer will design, develop, test and implement JPMorgan Chase & Co technology in support of the data protection program. The successful candidate will work within the Security Engineering team, in partnership with the firm's Architecture, Security Operations and Lines of businesses, in a hands-on environment; working with numerous and varied applications. The successful candidate will have a strong combination of practical networking, development, engineering, administration, cryptography, rights management, and security skills. Specific responsibilities will include: Help develop new data protection technology strategies which ensure data protection is an inherent part of the technology fabric of the firm. Developing robust, scalable, resilient, instrumented enterprise systems driven by strong requirements based design Applying software engineering concepts to IT operational challenges Support the Firm's goals in data protection, including Get to Moderate. Nurturing a robust Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) culture Performs deployment, administration, management, configuration, testing, and integration tasks related to the data protection technology platform Required Skills/Experience A mixture in a variety of the skills listed below: Experience in developing, or engineering software, platforms and/or infrastructures. Understanding of identity, access and key management concepts Programming Skills (Python, Perl, Ruby, Bash, Go) Experience in Agile and Site Reliability Engineering concepts Experience in Relational Databases (ex: Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft SQL) Experience in Operating system administration (ex: Windows, Linux) Experience with Hadoop distributions and ecosystem (ex: Cloudera, Hortonworks) Strong expertise in designing resilient, instrumented systems at scale Desirable Experience/Skills Experience in a Site Reliability Engineering role. Dev tools experience (Github, Terraform, Jenkins, etc.) Digital rights management experience Experience in Graph Databases (ex: Neo4j, ArangoDB) Understanding of tokenization, data masking, data dispersion techniques Understanding of cryptography and data encryption products (such as Vormetric, Protegrity, Voltage, etc) Understanding of data classification and discovery
|Rate:|| ||Market Rates|
|Location:|| ||Glasgow, Scotland|
|Contact:|| ||Resource Solutions|
|Advertiser:|| ||Resource Solutions - JP Morgan|
|Start Date:|| ||ASAP|