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.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.