Join Jonathan Reichental for an in-depth discussion in this video Palo Alto Civic Technology Center, part of Smart Cities: Solving Urban Problems Using Technology.
- When I said I was coming here to change things, and create a completely new way of delivering technology in a government context, I really meant it. It wasn't just going to be about the tools we use, or the processes, but the entire environment, including the physical environment. - When I first joined the council in 2010, you should have seen our IT room. It was, you know, huge, probably as large as the entire Clerk's Office here, and it had machines everywhere. And it looked like something out of those 1970s movies with the huge computers and the tapes and all of that.
- My observation was like many people. It looked like you thought a government IT group would look like. It was a little bit of a disappointment that the heart of Silicon Valley wasn't consistent in, perhaps, how in my mind, I thought it would look. We are the birthplace and heart of Silicon Valley, and so we ought to look like a place that is on the cutting edge of technology in the world.
We needed to create an environment that, not only works like a startup, but looked like a startup. And so we, a few years ago, we started a project to redesign the IT area. We renamed it to the Civic Technology Center. And we ripped it all out. We changed it up. We made it bright and open, where people started to collaborate and work together. - If you toured City Hall, you'd find that this is a very unique floor compared to the other floors.
And some of the floors are actually under remodeling efforts now to mimic some of the aspects of the CTC. The city officials were strong advocates of this, and it's been considered a successful deployment of this particular architecture. - Where I'm sitting right now is the lobby area of City Hall. Behind me in the core lobby is a digital art piece. We call it Conversations, and people can interact with this large art piece.
- That mines Twitter feeds and little conversation bubbles and people can actually go online and comment right there, so the idea is is that we expect and invite a conversation on participation by citizens, whether they're here, across town or on the other side of the world. - People come to City Hall and they do a double take. They're like, wait a minute, is this Palo Alto City Hall, because they think they're walking into a small software company. Now we're in the 21st century, and we have a City Hall and a lobby area and a set of conference rooms that have state of the art equipment that are useful and valuable to the community, but also looks beautiful, looks like it should in Palo Alto.