March 4, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano (pictured). His lifetime of innovation in re-engineering local government processes "has saved tax dollars and created a local culture of use that has made the Internet a major form of communication between government and citizens at every level."
Last year, Westchester County, N.Y. was named one of the world's most intelligent communities by The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). This year, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano has been selected as one of three recipients of the ICF's annual Founders Awards. The Founders Awards identify individuals, applications, organizations and innovations within intelligent communities that are transforming life in the broadband economy for the common good. Other 2009 Founders Awards recipients are Dave Carter, head of the Manchester Digital Development Agency (United Kingdom) and the Public Administration of Taoyuan County (Taiwan) under the direction of its governor (Magistrate), Dr. Eric Li Luan Chu
The ICF's announcement said that under the direction of Spano, Westchester County -- north of New York City with a population of nearly 1 million residents -- has made its broadband and telecommunications strategy the foundation for continued innovation, growth and access. While often in the shadow of its neighbor to the south, Westchester County generates 10 percent of all patents in the United States.
The county, said Spano in a video clip today, is also the only county in the state with a triple-A bond rating from all three rating services, because of solid financial planning.
When carriers refused to introduce broadband beyond the profitable business corridor, the county government worked with 43 independent local governments as well as library systems, schools and hospitals to aggregate demand in order to finance construction of a fiber network. That network today serves 3,500 businesses and is saving government and public-service agencies large amounts of money. The network has been instrumental in the attraction of substantial new investment (including other broadband carriers), improved educational achievement, job creation and an enhanced quality of life. Of note to ICF was Spano's lifetime of innovation in re-engineering local government processes, which has saved tax dollars and created a local culture of use that has made the Internet a major form of communication between government and citizens at every level. In 2009, Westchester will launch a registry to allow citizens to sign up online indicating whether they would require special assistance in the event of an emergency.
The awards will be presented to this year's recipients at a luncheon in New York on 15 May, during the annual Building the Broadband Economy Summit, which takes place 13-15 May, 2009. The Summit is organized by ICF and hosted by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.