NACo Technology Summit 2012 recap: Collaboration is key
The National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference and its one-day, kick-off technology summit were held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The bridge and hill-filled city’s rejuvenated downtown was a fitting (in a “local American” way) setting for the convergence of representatives from the nation’s more than 3,000 counties. The tech summit was christened with words from NACo’s current and past presidents, and then launched into NACo GIS Committee Chair and Hennepin County Commissioner Randy Johnson’s proclamation that technology investment (by government) is the only way to meet citizen needs in today’s economic climate.
Norm Jacknis, director with Cisco Systems Inc., moderated a session on technology-based economic development and speculated that traditional strategies for local economic development need to be reconsidered. He said that enticing big companies with incentives does not make sense when you consider big company workforces have not contributed to job growth in the last several years, and large companies have increasing remote staff. Additionally, the same factors that allow for remote staff in big companies allow smaller companies to locate almost anywhere, including a virtual environment. Therefore, the traditional business park/cluster strategy is challenged.
Jacknis advised that video communications will be the true game changer and said companies and governments that support and utilize the possibilities brought by video networks will separate themselves from the pack. Jacknis emphasized collaboration’s direct relationship with innovation and how networks facilitate this phenomenon. In closing, he said old economic development strategies are compromised by a global and networked economy, and asked how counties measure economic success. Is it by the revenues produced by companies in their borders, or is it by their per-capita income?
Further, council member Robert Ross offered a real-world example of Jacknis’ postulations by describing San Mateo, California’s partnership of government, education and vendors. The partnership, called “The Edge,” was largely fostered by a Comcast investment of $3 million for a fiber network and has revitalized the downtown district.
Ira Levy, chief performance officer and chief information officer of Howard County, Md., provided more examples of collaboration and networks fostering growth after a partnership of governments and industry won a Broadband Technology and Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant for broadband deployment. The project, known as One MD, is a shining example of how local governments are succeeding and sharing investments and rewards by thinking regionally.
This is just a taste of the many sessions Deltek attended at the 2012 NACo Technology Summit. A complete analyst recap will be released early next week, featuring a breakdown of sessions focused on reducing costs by modernizing legacy IT applications, improving government practices through efficiency and reduced costs, and cloud-computing initiatives. The recap will also highlight NACo’s new application store with a special interview with Phil Bertolini, deputy county executive/CIO of Oakland County, Mich.