Innovation is Local

Local governments are quickly becoming home to some of the most innovative applications of big data, analytics, machine learning, IoT, and artificial intelligence. This embrace of new technology is borne out of necessity. Local governments have had to get creative to meet the needs of citizens, demanding a more digital government, while dealing with tight budgets. Cities have introduced apps that allow citizens to report potholes, they have installed "smart" lighting to conserve energy, government organizations have opened up data to allow people to apply for permits online and see the status of their case, and so much more. Additionally, local governments are taking a new look at how to better use and correlate all of the data they hold to enhance city and public health planning.

In the midst of these exciting applications of new technologies, there are challenges. Privacy is a huge concern, both from a data perspective as well as images and information captured from IoT devices across a city. There's also a communication and publicity challenge. Citizen-centric apps and services do no good if people don't know they exist or don't use them. Similarly, there is a learning curve for employees and citizens, and developing the right training to encourage new technology use is critical.

Luckily there are a number of events designed to celebrate the successes of local governments implementing new technology as well as others that hone in on meeting the real challenges of local government 2.0.

  • Covits (September 5-6, 2018; Richmond, VA) - Organized by Government Technology magazine, a publication dedicated to state and local technology, this event is designed to spread best practices and spur innovation in the public sector. The two-day event includes inspirational keynotes, leadership discussions, networking breaks, and timely topics discussed in the numerous breakout sessions. Additionally, Government Technology has a series of state-specific events throughout the year.
  • Public CIO Technology Summit (September 26-27, 2018; Jackson, WY) - This event brings together a select group of CIOs, CTOs and other technology leaders from the largest city, county, and state IT organizations around the country. Participants gather for a day and a half of directed, interactive dialogue. It provides an opportunity to learn from peers and exchange ideas on key areas of technology, management, policy, and strategy unique to large government information technology organizations.
  • Smart Cities Week (October 2-4, 2018; Washington, DC) - Collaboration is the theme of this year's conference bringing together inspiring thinkers, civic leaders and technologists to highlight the benefits of innovative collaborations to solve all manner of urban challenges - from financing and capacity building to urgent infrastructure needs.
  • California Governing Leadership Forum (December 6, 2018; Sacramento, CA) - Organized by Governing magazine, this forum looks at the unique demands of local government leaders. This year's event will have a theme of building high-performance government that will be addressed by a speaker line-up comprised of national thought leaders and subject matter experts.
  • National Association of Counties Annual Conference (July 11-15, 2019; Las Vegas, NV) - This annual conference draws a cross section of elected officials and county staff from across the country. Attendees from rural and urban counties, large and small budgets and staff - all come together to shape NACo's federal policy agenda, learn, network and share best practices all aimed to help improve residents' lives and the efficiency of county government.

Let us know where you are getting your insight on state and local tech innovations in the comments.

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