Connecting state and local government leaders
COMMENTARY | Carlsbad, California, had siloed data streams and didn’t effectively communicate between departments. It changed that and is using its smart city status to tackle today's biggest problems.
The city of Carlsbad, California, is employing new technology to improve its services and enhance the quality of life for its residents.
Before making technology improvements, the town was unorganized when it came to data management, according to David Graham, Carlsbad’s chief innovation officer. It had nine disconnected networks with siloed data, no inventory of available data and no communication between departments.
So the city created what is now called Connected Carlsbad to improve connectivity using communication technology, and identified the following five key goals to streamline processes and improve collaboration.
Pursue Communitywide Digital Transformation
The city worked to improve data sharing across local government departments by forming an interdisciplinary team of various city departments.
The team, which included members from the IT, public safety and finance departments, addressed a range of issues related to data sharing, such as the lack of a single sign-on system and the use of obsolete and noncompliant city devices. Their primary goal was to enhance the city's overall data-sharing capabilities while ensuring data privacy and security.
Cyberattacks are on the rise and increased by more than 50% last year, which is what made data security a top priority for the city.
To achieve these goals, the team pursued several initiatives, including the implementation of a single sign-on system to streamline access to various applications and systems across departments. Additionally, the team replaced obsolete and noncompliant city devices with modern equipment that supports secure data sharing.
Carlsbad's Office of Innovation and Economic Development also played a crucial role in driving digital transformation initiatives by transitioning to an enterprise resource planning system.
The transition aims to streamline city operations by replacing outdated manual processes with automated workflows. The new system will also enhance data accuracy and integrity by providing a centralized data repository that can be accessed by authorized city staff across departments.
Carlsbad's cross-departmental team has made significant strides in achieving communitywide digital transformation. The initiatives undertaken have improved the city's overall operational efficiency, data security and service delivery, demonstrating the importance of collaboration and cross-departmental cooperation in achieving digital transformation.
Build Capacity for Data-Driven Decision-Making
By leveraging technology and analytics, the city enhanced its capacity to make informed decisions that benefit its residents.
One of the key initiatives that the city undertook was to build a centralized data repository to provide a single source for data, making it easier for staff to access and analyze data from multiple departments.
The city hired data scientists who are responsible for data analytics and reporting. Data scientists are among the most in-demand professions in the country, with nearly 90% of organizations employing at least one data scientist as part of their data analytics team.
Carlsbad also implemented robust digital tools and platforms to support data-driven decision-making. For example, a new performance management system enables city staff to track progress against KPIs and identify areas for improvement. The system provides real-time data that can be accessed from any location.
Another example of the city's efforts to build capacity for data-driven decision-making is the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology. The city uses GIS to map and visualize data, making it easier to identify patterns and trends. For example, the city uses GIS to map crime data and identify areas requiring more policing.
Foster a Vibrant Civic Engagement Culture
To foster civic engagement and encourage residents to participate in local government decision-making, the Carlsbad Office of Innovation and Economic Development utilizes various methods like online surveys, public meetings and community events.
One of the initiatives to achieve engagement is the "Get Involved" page on its website. This page provides residents with information on how to participate in local government decision-making, including attending public meetings, submitting comments and serving on advisory committees.
Additionally, the city conducts online surveys to gather feedback from residents on services, programs and initiatives. It hosts various community events where residents can interact with local government officials, ask questions and provide feedback on city initiatives.
The city has implemented various digital tools to make it easier for residents to engage with local government officials, as well. This includes virtual public meetings, online voting platforms and social media communication. These tools enable residents to engage with local government officials from home and to provide input on city initiatives. A new “Citizens Academy” also allows residents to learn about city operations and to communicate with city officials.
Enhance Accessibility and Transparency
To increase transparency, Carlsbad created an open data initiative to make government data easily accessible to the public. The initiative provides residents with access to data on city services, budgets, and other relevant data, enabling them to hold local governments accountable and make informed decisions.
Residents can also apply for permits and pay their bills online, which has made it easier for residents to interact with the city and access the services they need.
In addition, the Carlsbad Office of Innovation and Economic Development has partnered with local businesses and technology companies to develop innovative solutions to improve accessibility and transparency. The city is working with a local tech company to develop an app that enables residents to report issues or problems..
By enhancing accessibility and transparency, the Carlsbad Office of Innovation and Economic Development is working to improve residents' trust in local government operations, promote accountability, and create a more engaged community.
Promote Security and Sustainability through Connectivity
Finally, Carlsbad has leveraged technology to improve public safety, enhance environmental sustainability and promote economic growth.
One of the initiatives implemented by the city to promote security is the installation of a network of smart streetlights sensors to detect and report crime and other incidents in real time. The goal is to improve police response time.
The city has also implemented various initiatives to promote sustainability through connectivity. This includes implementing a smart grid system that uses renewable energy sources to power city facilities and infrastructure and installing bike-sharing programs and electric vehicle charging stations to reduce carbon emissions.
And to promote economic growth through connectivity, the city has installed a fiber-optic network providing high-speed internet access to businesses and residents. This has enabled local businesses to expand their operations and improve their competitiveness in the global marketplace.
Fabian Sandoval is an HR analyst for small and medium businesses. He recently launched his writing career sharing his insights on employee productivity and streamlining company-wide projects. He specializes in simplifying mundane HR tasks and providing solutions to problems that often pop up in a remote work environment.