The City’s IT Department has earned several awards so far this year for projects that improve government service and delivery as well as engage and inform residents.
Digital Cities Winner
1st Place Winner - Cities with populations of 125,000 to 249,999
The Center for Digital Government (CDG) announced the winners of the 2019 Digital Cities Survey. Now in its 19th year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to tackle social challenges, enhance services, strengthen cybersecurity and more. “The top Digital Cities this year are taking the IT department far beyond the role of service provider,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director of CDG. “They’re exploring creative ways to leverage their technology a driver of better, smarter, more responsive government.”
Norfolk is using technology to support a new city goal of “Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth.” City IT personnel worked with four other southside cities to build a regional connectivity ring of dark fiber that runs through the city’s “Technology Zone” and will connect to an overseas cable landing site. The connectivity ring helps drive economic growth and makes lower-cost broadband services available in underserved areas of the city.
The city also launched several citizen-facing initiatives, like engaging more than 1,200 residents in the budget planning process for 2020 with Balancing Act software, launching a new city website that pairs with a citizen-reporting app called My Norfolk, and using Microsoft PowerBI to create public-facing dashboards.
IT won two Governor’s Technology Awards from the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium. The first award recognized the city’s Data Innovation Initiative, a cross-departmental effort led by IT to improve data-driven decision making and data quality, increase access to public information, and enhance coordination and internal data sharing among staff. To meet those goals, Norfolk formed a cross-departmental team to implement the program, hired the city’s first-ever data scientist, and trained staff on data analytics tools such as the Open Data portal, PowerBI and ESRI. Information Technology also sought expert input from external partners such as What Works Cities and the Sunlight Foundation.Data Innovation Initiative application
Norfolk shared the second award with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the cities of Virginia Beach and Newport News for the StormSense project. This effort crossed city borders to create a flood resiliency initiative that uses low-cost, low-energy automated water level gauges to improve flood forecast models. StormSense application
Public Sector Government Innovation Award
This award recognizes the city’s efforts to modernize business practices through an enterprise content management initiative. City IT used Laserfiche, an electronic document management and workflow system, to streamline processes, automate routine tasks, go paperless, minimize data entry and human error and increase security.
During the past year, IT coordinated with 12 departments to develop 50 new automated workflows. For example, barcoding and scanning thousands of documents helped the Commissioner of Revenue improve efficiency through quick and easy retrieval of information. The City Auditor’s office was able to eliminate an outdated case management system as well as $2,000 a year in maintenance costs while creating a secured central repository for documents. Marrying Laserfiche to Human Resources’ information system expedited new employee processes such as computer access and ID badges.
Among the benefits of this effort: process automation in the City Treasurer’s office helped it to save 51 work hours per week, more than a full-time employee. And paper and storage costs have decreased citywide by approximately 13%, leading to an average annual savings of $8,300.00 (based on a reduction in the number of records sent to an offsite storage facility).
3CMA SAVVY Award
IT’s staff won a Savvy Award (top honors) for its annual report and operating plan from 3CMA, the City-County Communications and Marketing Association. According to the judges, “The report took the difficult to communicate work of the IT department and made it tangible, measurable and relevant. The report was easy to read and provided a clear understanding of the department’s value to the city.”
Digital Cities Winner
The City has been named as a Digital Cities winner in 2016, 2017 and 2018 by the Center for Digital Government. Each year the survey has a different focus; the focus in 2018 was on the following elements of a technology strategy: Open Data/Transparency, Cybersecurity, Connectivity (Broadband and Wi-Fi), Efficiency, Resilience, Innovation and Strategic Planning.
Tactical Data Engagement - Sunlight Foundation
Norfolk was selected to participate in Tactical Data Engagement with the Sunlight Foundation. This is a pilot project to teach residents to use the data we have made available to solve problems. Norfolk and Austin, TX were the only two cities chosen for this honor nationwide. The TDE project is designed to help cities go beyond open data portals to facilitate opportunities for community use of open data.