How State and Local Leaders are Innovating with Technology

“There’s always going to be new technology. We must innovate to do more with less” – Brent Nair, CIO, Memphis

Last week, Cisco and Consero hosted their Virtual Government IT Forum, the first in a series of online discussions between state and local government visionaries. The focus on the online session (which you can still view here) was the changing role of the CIO and various technology trends that are changing how government works and interacts with the public. Panelists included state and local government IT leaders from around the country:

  • Ken Desforges, Director Information Systems, Diamond Bar, California
  • Rob Mancini, Chief Technology Officer, Washington, D.C.
  • Tom McQuillan, Chief Information Officer, Prince William County, Virginia
  • Brent Nair, Chief Information Officer, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Dianah Neff, Chief Information Officer, Monterey County, California

  • Dan Kent, Federal CTO and Director of Solutions, Cisco

The panel discussion was interesting to hear, specifically how agencies are using technology to engage citizens, meet the needs of the public, increase workforce productivity and do more with less in these tough economic times. Below I’ve pulled out some of my favorite takeaways but I encourage you to view the full session here.


One thing all the panelists agreed on was the importance of leadership to address the rapidly changing technology environment. Year by year, new technology trends emerge that drastically change how government functions and communicates with the public. According to Rob Mancini, technology is at the heart of everything we do. Therefore, strong IT leadership is essential to help government leaders make informed, data-driven decisions and enable your agency to be fast and nimble like the private sector. Furthermore, in the era of budget cuts, IT leaders need to think outside the box, innovate with existing technology, and apply it in different ways to truly achieve “doing more with less.” As Brent Nair noted, there’s always going to be new technology and threats. We must innovate to do more with less.” Finally, collaboration and building partnerships across departments are vital to leveraging technology and ensuring that new advancements are helping people do their job better.

Top Priorities:

During the webinar, the audience was asked what was the top priority for their agency. The top two responses were mobility and security/cyber security, respectively. Ken Desforges agreed with the audience and stressed that his agency focuses on being secure and protecting important information and everything else follows. All panelists stressed that regardless of tech priorities, your main priority should be collaborating and building strong partnerships with other agencies. The more agencies can share best practices, build off of each other, and

Proudest/Biggest Achievements

Facing budget pressure, the city of Memphis looked at mobility and how they could deliver better services to employees and citizens. By starting small with one code enforcement team, they demonstrated how mobile devices can reduce paper flow, save time and deliver more complete information, faster. The city then expanded mobile technology to various departments to see how they could replicate this success. Another great example came from the Diamond Bar leadership team who created a 24/7/265 virtual city hall to engage citizens. This city hall houses a lot of unique information so citizens can log on and access the information they need quickly and easily.

How are you delivering value/engaging citizens?

This was my favorite part of the segment so I broke out what each IT leader is doing in their city/county to engage citizens:

Brent/Memphis- They are putting as much online as possible so people don’t need to go to different offices or call various organizations and can do more things from home. This is fundamental to reaching people where they are- online and on the go.

Dianah/Monterrey County- They are collaborating with libraries to dispatch a Tech Mobile to locations with slow or no broadband so everyone has access to internet. As Dianah noted, “it’s not always high tech, but what works in your community.”

Rob/DC- Running fiber throughout the city where broadband is low to ensure everyone has access. They also created the Digital Inclusive Initiative which provides training, educational opportunities, and subsidies to people who don’t currently have access to these technologies.

Ken/Diamond Bar- They are focusing on connecting with citizens via social media and implemented a reverse 911 system for fires and earthquakes. By utilizing social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter they are able to give citizens real-time information about localized fires and other emergencies.

Tom/Prince William County– GMMC (gypsy moth and mosquito control). This is their award winning program that utilizes tablets, cloud computing and GIS to treat an area twice as large as it could previously with no additional staff.

This is only the tip of the iceberg so be sure to check out the full online session here.

For more than 25 years, governments around the world have partnered with Cisco to address challenges and achieve strategic objectives. By working closely with government leaders like you, we glean insights that cultivate thought leadership and help us design, execute, and test solutions based on best practices and our partner ecosystem. These ongoing relationships have forged thousands of proven implementations across a variety of public sector organizations, providing continuous innovation in how communities are managed and renewed.

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