Survey common external uses of technology outside of the city organization.
- Who are the customers of local government? The answer isn't obvious. There are a lot of people and organizations who are dependent on the public sector. In a city context, we can start with the people who live within its geographic boundaries. Then we expand to include workers who commute into the city, and students who attend local colleges and universities. There are businesses and visitors. There are regional players like the water authorities and public transport services.
There are other broader layers of regional state and federal government who are all partners and at times requesters of services and information. It's a remarkable web of stakeholders that may all have demands. By extension, this means technology will be used widely, and it means the IT department at the city organization, potentially working with its own partners, will need to provide external services. We've all likely dealt with government at some point.
Whether it's getting a driver's license, paying taxes, a parking or speeding ticket, requesting a passport or reporting a crime. Perhaps the interaction was initially paper-based, or if you were lucky you could do it online. Either way, there's a high likelihood that data was entered into a system at some point. These externally facing systems must be purchased or custom developed, and then supported. The IT team is essential here.
Technology shows up in a whole range of external contexts. Police, fire, and other emergency services rely heavily on good communication systems. They use them to connect with each other, with their base, and with a large number of other parties such as other jurisdictions and justice agencies. Public safety vehicles often carry a high volume of computing equipment, from PCs, smartphones, radios, tablets, to complex health management devices that reside in ambulances.
These systems and their software are highly specialized. As more cities embrace technologies that make their functions more connected, intelligent, and smart, increasing support will be required for an internet of things, or IoT. Local governments are deploying a wide range of sensors and internet nodes across urban landscapes, for the purposes of traffic management, air quality monitoring, WiFi, cameras for crime prevention and forensics, and other data gathering purposes.
IT will be needed for such efforts as helping to design solutions, for procurement, to deploy both wired and wireless telecommunications, for data collection, security and analysis, and for maintenance and troubleshooting. Finally, an increasing number of cities are exploring how they can better connect with their constituents. In addition to traditional forums such as town holds and committee meetings, a wide range of online options have emerged. Social media has been embraced by the public sector as a way not only to inform, but to illicit civic participation.
There are also specific public sector-based social media tools. Public agencies are making a wide range of smartphone apps available for a whole host of ways for constituents to engage with the local government. This also means that many paper-based interactions from as simple as reporting a street light outage to conducting the entire permitting process are being digitized, enabling more accuracy, speedier responses, and better reporting.
Much like the private sector, a nascent digital transformation is taking place in government, albeit at a slower pace. These areas described in this video are a subset of the many ways that IT supports external services, and not only demonstrates the incredible variety of technology work, but also the remarkable way that an IT technologist in the public sector can have impact everyday.
Leading CIO Jonathan Reichental explains the function of cities, the role of technology in cities, and the different IT jobs available. He also provides practical tips to prepare for an IT career in city government, including tips on getting the right training, building a résumé, preparing and acing the interview, and getting ready for the first day on the job.