Explore how technology has recently become really important to city functions.
- The administration of cities can be thought of the same way as running any large complex organization. They require great people, processes, and technology to be successful. In the 21st century, information technology tools for staff are not discretionary items, but essential support for all functions. While it's easy to identify core productivity tools in a government agency context, such as word processors, spreadsheets, email, and websites, given their complexity and variety of functions, cities use a surprising number of technology solutions.
Public safety departments, for example, require specialized support for dispatching, monitoring, and managing police and fire officers for an emergency. A library requires specific software for checking in/out books. And of course, because libraries do so much more today, including education and digital experiences, they have more needs than ever before. Even a small government agency likely has over 100 different specialized software and hardware solutions that need to be supported and managed.
Just imagine for a moment the volume and complexity of solutions in a city like London or Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, without traditional competitive market forces and given considerable budgetary constraints, public sector technology has lagged the private sector in its power to be an essential supporting function. But this is changing quickly. Most cities now recognize the strategic importance of good information technology and enterprise architecture, and it's now moving from the periphery to the center of the action.
This is evident in the recent appearance of the positions chief information officer, the CIO, and chief technology officer, the CTO. The information technology team, historically hidden in the organization as a back office administrative function, is now emerging under executive leadership as a critical unit of the organization. These CIOs and CTOs are reporting directly to city managers and administrators. It's a comparable shift that was witnessed a few years earlier in the private sector.
There's still a lot of opportunity though. Cities are only now beginning to create openings for such roles as data scientists, urban innovators, chief digital officers, user interface designers, and information security managers. The future is very promising for those in IT choosing the public sector. As we proceed into the third decade of the 21st century, we're seeing the impact of a new generation of workers as they enter the workforce.
They are internet native and technology savvy. This means they've never known a world without the power of the internet and they are fully conversant with technology tools, like smartphones, collaboration platforms, and social media. They know the power of technology and they want to apply it. As these staff fill in vacancies across local government and get promoted into leadership positions, they are demanding more from technology.
They know how important it is, not only for the efficient function of their organization, but as a necessary tool to address today's challenges, such as volume of service demands, increased data integrity and security, and quality management. But focusing just on the essential core needs of departments within a local government, while important, would only be one part, albeit a big one, of the complete role of technology in cities.
Technology to support operations is vitally important, but now mayors, city staff, and communities expect technology to help reimagine and reinvent some of the ways in which a city functions. They want city infrastructure and services to be more efficient, sustainable, connected, intelligent, and smarter. We'll explore that next.
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.