January 14, 2013 By Jessica Mulholland
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and CIO Adel Ebeid are strong proponents of civic technology, as shown by the Philly 311 and Licenses & Inspections mobile apps. And on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, the two took their dedication a step further by naming Tim Wisniewski as the city's first-ever Director of Civic Technology, according to a blog from the city's Office of the Managing Director.
This position, Wisniewski says, was created as part of the city's strategy for Innovation Management under the direction of both Nutter and Ebeid.
"At the Innovation Management Team, we want to leverage the huge -- and growing -- pool of resources and enthusiasm around civic technology here in Philadelphia in an official capacity," Wisniewski said, adding that the team wants to help civic apps have a sustainable impact beyond individual hackathons by partnering with civic coders, sharing data and collaborating on problems that technology could help solve. "And we want to apply the same technology and methods used at hackathons on the inside -- to help city departments reach their goals of improving efficiency and responsiveness."
Wisniewski previously served as an assistant managing director at the Managing Director's Office, where he provided project management for the Philly 311 mobile app, among many other technical projects.
Having been in his new position nearly a week, Wisniewski says he already has some ideas he'd like to see through to implementation, such as engaging departments -- who know their processes and their data better than anyone -- and connecting them with the technical resources and tools necessary to bring their ideas to fruition. "Specifically, we’d like to take advantage of the possibilities provided by mobile devices, both for internal uses like city service crews interacting with their work order system from the field to provide faster service," he said, "and external uses like the PhillyRising mobile app, which will connect neighbors to community groups, facilities, and each other."
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.