Winning cities lead the way nationally in use of technology to support resident services
NORFOLK, VA – For the fifth consecutive year, the City of Norfolk placed in the top 10 cities of its size in the annual Digital Cities survey.
The Center for Digital Government (CDG) announced the winners of the 2020 Digital Cities Survey on Tuesday. Now in its 20th year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to tackle social challenges, enhance services, strengthen cybersecurity, and more.
“Innovative cities are utilizing technology and analyzing data to better serve their citizens, respond quickly to citizen needs around COVID-19, and support digital experience initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for their hard work and efforts to use technology to enhance citizen interactions with government.”
Norfolk placed fourth among cities with populations between 125,000 and 249,999, ahead of Alexandria, VA, and just behind Pasadena, CA.
“We are pleased and proud to again join the ranks of the most innovative cities in America,” said Chief Information Officer Fraser Picard. “We strive every day to use data and technology to provide the best possible services to our residents.”
Digital Cities summarized Norfolk’s achievements on its website for the award announcements. Norfolk’s Information Technology Department instituted several new initiatives despite budget cuts related to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. For example, this year Norfolk began using predictive analytics, including machine learning, to make better decisions about how to allocate funding, including predicting how COVID-19 would impact finances.
Other initiatives that contributed to Norfolk’s award:
- Creation of ConnectNorfolk to provide 24/7 public Wi-Fi to residents at more than 60 sites throughout the city and to develop a plan to add new sites in areas with the greatest need;
- The use of artificial intelligence for flooding and traffic prediction, as well as anticipating zoo and recreation center attendance;
- Norfolk’s current effort to move its primary data center to an off-site colocation, a $6 million project to bolster remote work, apply latest technologies, and increase security and efficiency. Norfolk is also establishing a redundant data center outside the region to ensure continuity of operations during an emergency;
- Work with the Communications Office to facilitate citizen interaction including the launch of the MyNorfolk app and website in fall 2019; use of Let’s Talk Norfolk, an online polling platform to survey residents;
- The city’s strong data governance strategy, including its CivicLab division, which monitors the open data program that currently offers 40 data sets for resident use and to enable city leaders to make data-driven decisions. July 2020 saw the roll out of a project with the open data team to gather and anonymize the city’s micromobility data to maximize its use while protecting customer privacy.
The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute focused on technology policy and best practices in state and local government.