February 17, 2011 By Elaine Pittman
After being appointed the first CIO for Kentucky’s newly merged Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government in 2003, Beth Niblock faced the task of uniting city and county IT systems and infrastructure. And if that weren’t a big enough mission, simultaneously she and the IT staff implemented a new financial system.
“It was a huge challenge because the city and county were in pretty much different technology directions,” Niblock said. However, the successful union is an accomplishment she looks back on as “great fun.”
Today the Louisville Metro government is a smooth-running organization that consistently ranks in Government Technology’s Best of the Web Awards and Digital Cities Survey. In 2010, Louisville Metro took second place for its population category in both awards programs. Mobile apps and the posting of financial details on its website through services like Louisville Checkbook and How the City Spends Your Money embrace the call for transparency.
Niblock said her goal is “to have government operate efficiently and financially responsibly, and be accessible to our citizens.” One way she’s fulfilling that is by upgrading the metro government’s 311 system and adding more Web-based services like online permitting and plan review to elicit citizen comments. In 2009, the metro government consolidated police, fire and emergency medical services dispatchers onto the same computer-aided dispatch system, a move that makes the dispatch process more efficient for both citizens and the government.
And the projects won’t stop there. 2011’s goal is to implement a program similar to Baltimore’s CitiStat that measures efficiency levels in government. “Getting timely information both internally to do process improvement and externally so citizens can see what government is doing and how well we’re doing it, on a consistent, real-time basis is a big push,” Niblock said.
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.