While states are the big dogs when it comes to most state and local IT, some of the most innovative and exciting things happen at the county level. The National Association of Counties and the Center for Digital Government team up every year to highlight the most impressive and game-changing technology implementations across many counties in the country.
There are valuable lessons about and insights into mobility, security, open data, cloud computing, social media and more to be gleaned from the county IT champions of the 2016 Digital Counties Survey released in late July. Here are a few of the most notable ones to follow:
One of the hottest things in all levels of government technology these days involves offering citizens access and transparency to a government’s operations and decision-making through open-data portals. Wake County, N.C., which hosts it open-data portal at data.wakegov.com, has emerged as a leader among open-data pioneers. Some of the innovative features included in the portal are centered on the management of data in a systematic and rapid fashion: “Each new data set that is added has an automated update method on regular intervals, and is also backed by rich metadata to give it as much context as possible,” according to Govtech.
Lots of localities talk about the need to improve and optimize IT security strategies and tactics, but those initiatives come at a cost. Sitting right outside of the nation’s capital, Montgomery County, Md., is a hotbed for cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats. That’s why the county made security a priority and invested $1.5 million to “strengthen the county’s vulnerability assessment program, which resulted in software upgrades, new anti-virus and anti-malware tools, and additional dedicated security staff.”
Ensuring that state and local governments remain competitive for millennial IT talent is a top priority for many leaders, because it’s no secret that much of the public-sector IT workforce is aging. Alameda County, Calif., has done more than talk about the problem though. County leadership convened a task force “to ensure that Alameda County is an employer of choice not just for the millennial generation, but employees of any age.” The only way to tackle the problem is to address it, assess it and strategize around it. For this reason, Alameda’s leadership is worth following.
The work to improve citizen services and engagement is an ongoing challenge for any locality, but Chesterfield County, Va., holds itself to a higher standard by assigning “customer relationship managers” to county departments. These CRMs “ultimately serve to ‘de-mystify’ IT for their customers — the departments — and advise them on new technology initiatives that can be used to more efficiently conduct operations, advocate for the business customers’ needs and help navigate the IT processes that are necessary to complete projects.”
Many governments say that they’re prioritizing mobile experiences, but Boone County, Mo., has taken things a step further by specifically focusing on its job application process and making it mobile-friendly. The goal is to allow an applicant to go through the entire application process on his or her mobile device. The Sheriff’s Department in particular has eliminated the need to manually fill out specific documents in the application process, and similar enhancements have been made in applications for appointments to county boards.
This is just a sampling of the many counties doing excellent work with technology across the country. Visit Govtech to read more about all of the survey’s winners.