Hear from a Connected Community on the Rise
May 30, 2019 by
Mobile, Alabama, sought to reenergize development, increase transparency, and improve resident services through a bold, long-term vision. This vision and its implementation are on point with Connected Communities. Connected communities unite data, systems, and people for better public services and to solve many of society’s greatest issues. In a world of connected communities, local governments share information and integrate workflows across departmental, political, and geographical boundaries.
Positive outcomes abound when agencies share data and information easily and integrate processes among departments and jurisdictions:
- Seamless communication of important data improves public services and strengthens public safety.
- Connected communities enhance public engagement by making more types of data publicly available, giving people new insight into their immediate and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Emerging technology platforms offer electronic portals that gather information from disparate departments. These allow internal and external stakeholders to access and work with real-time information to create efficiencies and community solutions.
A Working Example
Mobile, Alabama, is setting an example for other local governments in recognizing the power of a strong digital infrastructure to support and create these valuable connections. Under Mayor Sandy Stimpson, the city is solving problems and creating opportunity for residents in ways that are repeatable in any-sized jurisdiction.
Mayor Stimpson and his staff took time to speak with Tyler about Mobile’s progress toward digital maturity and the biggest wins along the way. The resulting video, Mobile, AL, A Connected Community on the Rise, highlights thoughts and tips from leaders in IT, procurement, payroll, finance, capital projects, and more.
In Their Words
Of particular interest are the staff’s insights around themes common to any local government.
- Leadership vision. “We passed a vision statement to become the safest, most business and family-friendly city in America in 2020 knowing that was a bold vision, but with the belief that you cast bold visions if you’re going to do bold things.” —Mayor Sandy Stimpson
“I am a huge proponent of looking at technology to see where it can help you. The cities are the incubators for new ideas in government.” —Mayor Sandy Stimpson
- Overcoming operational challenges. “Some of the biggest benefits that I see internally would be the ability as a department head to see my budget my expenditures every day. I can look into my capital account which I have never been able to do before.” —Sue Farni, Senior Director of IT
“Our officers have way more accessibility to a database of reports that they can access a lot easier. If an officer is taking a report now, within 20 minutes that report is available to be assigned to an investigator.” —Tanya Hopkins, Data Systems Coordinator
“Technology has helped us access the vendor community better and be more transparent with city activity.” —Dan Rose, Chief Procurement Officer
- Citizen engagement. “For the first time ever, we’re going to have citizens have the ability to take a picture of a pothole and send it to 311 without any paper involved. It integrates with the work order system so those citizen requests flow to the department that’s responsible.” —Sue Farni
“I was able to do my mom’s business license online, which was fantastic because this was the first year I had done it. In the past it was all paper and mail.” —John Noletto, Payroll Manager
- Permitting efficiency. “We are really close to having what I think is going to be a first-class system for our permitting and inspections.” —Mayor Sandy Stimpson
“Now we have the customer able to upload plans via the system. They’re able to see a dynamic response of where we are in the review process. They’re able to do them neat on the computer to request them that way. It’s made the work faster and has made our processes speed up.”
—Marion McElroy, Senior Director of Build Mobile
- Integration. “We, across the city, have access to each other’s data so it allows us to sort of work together for the operation and financial good of the city.” —Rebecca Christian, Comp Controller
“Every neighborhood, every organization, every department, understands the overall vision of the city and where we’re headed, and they see themselves inside of that vision.” —Terrence Smith, I-Team Director