February 27, 2013 By Sarah Rich
When Jonathan Reichental became CIO of Palo Alto, Calif., he was warned repeatedly that government moves slowly.
But the former CIO of O’Reilly Media was used to moving fast. In all, Reichental had spent 15 years in various private-sector tech positions, and he was ready to cut past some of the bureaucracy and get projects under way.
Since joining the city in December 2011, Reichental and his team have delivered more than 100 projects — revamping the city’s website, launching an open data platform and a city finance tracking website, and overhauling a 25-year-old legacy analog phone system.
“My personality is to take an idea, move it through and get it out so it’s valuable,” he said.
But launching projects quickly can mean not getting them perfect in their initial phase. Reichental is a vocal proponent of a “lean startup approach” for some government IT projects. The approach involves releasing beta versions of technology projects to users and incorporating their suggestions.
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.