The Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) announced the winners of the 15th anniversary Digital Counties Survey. The survey, conducted by CDG in partnership with NACo, identifies the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services, encourage open data, collaboration and shared services, enhance cybersecurity and contribute to disaster response and recovery efforts.
“Innovative counties are utilizing technology and data to better inform and protect themselves and their citizens, to save taxpayer money and to provide a better citizen experience,” said Teri Takai, executive director, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for all the efforts they are making to improve the lives of their residents and others.”
“Effective technology has proven to be a key tool for efficiency in many facets of county government,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “We applaud this year’s Digital Counties Survey winners for showcasing the value of innovation and adaptation. Their embrace of cutting-edge approaches has benefited residents while ensuring good stewardship of taxpayer resources.”
Virginia was well represented with Arlington County winning the 150,000-249,999 population category. Other Virginia counties placing in the top 10 of different population categories include Fairfax County, Chesterfield County, Albemarle County, Montgomery County, Roanoke County, Franklin County, York County and Gloucester County.
Here’s this year’s first-place winners:
Montgomery County, Md. (1,000,000 or more population category): As part of their digital government strategy, Montgomery County added 47 new datasets to complete 150 published, consumable datasets, and added a Chief Data Officer to manage the expanded open government, open data, open budget, open spending and performance management portals. The county also completed an Artificial Intelligence pilot using Amazon Alexa as a virtual assistant to help people access their open data.
County of Sonoma, Calif. (500,000 – 999,999 population category): During and after last fall’s wildfires, which destroyed over 5,300 residences and businesses, the County of Sonoma and City of Santa Rosa collaborated on a co-branded website to provide citizens with comprehensive response/recovery information, including a Fire Debris Removal request and tracking function. Online resources were built to facilitate communications, visualizations, evacuation/shelters, housing, debris removal and more. Facebook, Twitter and additional social media were used and continue to be strong tools.
Dutchess County, N.Y. (250,000-499,999 population category): County progress was made with shared services, cloud-based migrations, cybersecurity and county end-user training. Shared services are robust with a new coordinator position; an annual summit; 32 shared services for municipalities; a $1 million annual incentives grant program; and additional IT offerings — saving municipalities millions of dollars. GIS applications are shared with 30 municipalities, businesses and the public for a $15 million annual savings.
Arlington County, Va. (150,000-249,999 population category): Arlington ensures that investments in smart city technologies and infrastructure fulfill citizen expectations. Measures include the Digital Destiny campaign, input from community groups and a data analytics partnership with Virginia Tech. The county formed a Digital Innovation team to initiate the Open Data Portal, Data Analytics program, mobile applications and the use of Microsoft 365 tools.
Nevada County, Calif. (up to 150,000 population category): Citizen engagement is a priority in the county with the “Participate Nevada County” crowd-sourcing website for residents’ ideas and comments on upcoming county projects. Additional strategic initiatives include increased agility, moving additional applications to the cloud, and taking a pro-active approach to cybersecurity. The Board of Supervisors’ strong ICT investment policies and enterprise technology reserve funding has been a key to success.