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Performing as a Turnaround CIO Artist, it's not Magic Anymore!

By Peter Ambs, CIO, City of Albuquerque

We used to call them ‘turnaround CIOs’, a moniker assigned to a CIO that was successful in implementing massive transformational change in a short amount of time. Today this is the norm. We must continually assess, align, and transform our digital business assets so they are optimized and constituent relevant. As a CIO in today’s public sector environment, we are responsible to our citizens and the employees that provide government services in our organization. In order to maintain this balance, it is critical to be both relevant and visionary at the same time. Relevant being that our service delivery model matches the expectations that our services are digital and secure. Visionary being that we are planning for the future and describing and preparing what needs to be done for autonomous vehicles, block-chain, IoT, virtual task assistants, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, just to name a few.

Government tech strategy needs to start with a vision, which in turn, influences culture, and when vision and culture match, anything is possible. When innovative thinking is encouraged, broad sweeping change can occur on an institutional basis and this means we are providing better and more efficient services for all.

In today’s world the CIO’s job is no longer to command and control, but rather to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization. Technology is no longer confined to the data center, with IoT and distributed processing systems, we must enable and support technology platforms that are not necessarily under our control, but rather that are interconnected and providing awareness and data that provide real-time data for decision support and service level management.

If every company is a tech company, then every governmental organization is also a tech organization. We live in a digital world and our citizens expect to interact with the government digitally, we need to provide our services when and how they are needed—digitally through online transactions in mobile and secure environments.

Data produced from these service routines can be used to measure effectiveness and improvement can occur to ensure optimized resource allocations. Open data and transparency provides for a more trusted government and this is central to service delivery. Open government is a priority and is defined and implemented through our City’s open data policy.

At the City of Albuquerque we are creating a city wide view of the future by executing on developed initiatives that have involved City Departments and constituent stakeholders. This involvement and planning sets the stage for future Smart City technologies. Future proofing current investments is critical as we embark on new public safety communications systems and smart street /LED lighting programs. Building in capacity now with an ubiquitous transport network will allow for voice, data, and video to be distributed and connected throughout the geographic expanse of city service buildings, traffic corridors, parks, and wherever sensors are deployed.

Certainly, before you can run, you need to walk. Building upon operational excellence, we have worked hard to identify and assess the legacy systems and ineffective business process that were creating a drag on the organization. From there, detailed technology roadmap was established and funding was secured based on ROI and financial pay-back prioritized models. Now that our various departmental line-of-business applications and enterprise applications are baselined and integrated, we can go after the fruit of innovation— online services, business intelligence, and mobile applications.

Now it’s time to prepare for the future, how do we incorporate block chain, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Smart City initiatives into a cohesive and citizen-centric service delivery model? Well, by practicing the same model that got us here, listening to our community and doing what is best in their interest through prudent and capable planning.

Our goal is to create a city-wide strategy for the use of Smart City technologies that is people-centered, problem-driven, and responsible.

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