How one city’s IT team keeps up with rapid growth

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Connect with state & local government leaders
 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Salt Lake City is adapting to new residents and workers by focusing on customer experience, easing hybrid work challenges and rethinking IT staffing.

Salt Lake City Chief Information Officer Aaron Bentley is busy. 

Utah’s capital is growing -- and not just in population, although that’s expected to increase, too. Its technology workforce swelled 29% since last year, and these new residents and workers don’t want to conduct business with the government the old way – namely, in person. 

“More and more, those transactions are happening through web portals or just online, and that’s been a big change for us,” Bentley said. COVID “accelerated the work we have in the technology world of trying to help modernize government in a way so that I can participate in government from home or maybe I’m on a business trip or vacation somewhere…. So, ‘we’re busy’ is a good way to say it.”

Much of the work involves cloud migration. Currently, all the city’s software projects involve a cloud migration or implementing a cloud project, Bentley said. For instance, it’s halfway through moving its enterprise resource planning system from an on-premise solution with its own database server and several application servers to the cloud. The city is also moving public safety systems to the cloud.

“We could never have enough” full-time employees to manage these systems on our own, he said. “That’s why, across the board, we’re either using [the cloud] or we’re migrating there.”

The city already had plans to move to the cloud and digitize historically paper-based processes, but the pandemic forced faster change. For example, before the health crisis, all contracts were signed with wet signatures, but within a week of the 2020 shutdown, the city moved to e-signatures.

“Those are things we won’t ever go back on,” Bentley said of the changes. “We learned through that process that we could move quickly, but at the same time, do it in a wise manner – not just pull the trigger and hope that you hit the target.”

Now, one of the biggest challenges the city is working through is hybrid work – a practice that almost all 60 of its departments and offices follow. During COVID, the city “just shoved computers out,” Bentley said, so today the city is stabilizing systems, making sure that those employees who work remotely – even part of the time – are as secure as office-based workers.

The goal is “making sure that those that we serve have as good, if not a better experience, with their local governments,” he said. 

Salt Lake City’s community engagement team sits within the Information Management Services department that Bentley oversees. 

“It’s actually made in an interesting way a good fit” because the city departments coming to us for community engagement help know  “we also have the technology, whether it be the website, the social media platforms, [the customer relations management] to support that,” he said. “As an IT director or as a human resources director or finance director, city attorney – whatever the role is – we have to stop being more siloed, and we have to be more centralized and more open, and more transparent as a government entity to help make the community better, instead of us just applying what we think is best.”

With so many initiatives competing for attention – community engagement, cloud migration, remote work support and cybersecurity – Salt Lake City relies on an IT steering committee and direction from the mayor and City Council to prioritize its to-do list.

It’s also rethinking staffing. For example, the city offers apprenticeships to anyone who wants to gain technology skills. The idea is that they can help the city while learning about enterprise technology and then either get hired or find private-sector tech jobs when they’re done.

“That’s something that historically we didn’t embrace … [providing] people with IT skills so that they can get jobs,” Bentley said. “But that’s a great relationship that we’ve leveraged and has really helped us as a city and in my department.”

A self-described anti-consultant – “I wanted us to have all the skill sets to do it in house” – Bentley has come around to the idea that the city doesn’t have the capacity to own everything. As a result, he’s worked to partner with software, security and other tech companies.

He’s also aligning with business stakeholders on shared technology. Traditionally, the city’s business and IT offices have been separate, but today, specialists in those areas work side by side. The result is a department explaining what it wants to do from a business standpoint and the IT department ensuring that the solution is secure and interoperable but not duplicative and that the data is available.

“Salt Lake City is transitioning from what I would say [is] a small city to a big city … and with that, it brings a lot of change in the technology sector,” Bentley said.

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.