March 8, 2006 By Alison Lake
When Cleveland hosted the International Children's Games in 2004, Mayor Jane Campbell ensured each visiting child received a cell phone equipped with GPS so no one would get lost. That's just one example of how the city applied technology in inventive and widely successful ways under Campbell's stewardship.
In Cleveland, information technology has come a long way, and has, in a few short years, modernized the city, Campbell said. "You have to understand where we started. When I came in, my office had no external e-mail. Only 150 of some 10,000 city employees had e-mail accounts." Also, the Northeast power outage in 2003 demonstrated a desperate need for better communication between agencies. "We had to run outside to talk to different officials in their vans and get questions answered."
The city's technology programs have a human face, and make a difference in social programs. In late 2004, after Cleveland was named the poorest large city in the nation, Campbell wanted to use technology to benefit the city's poorer residents, targeting lower-income communities with intensive job-related technology training and international certification. One such initiative was Computer Learning in my Backyard, which started in May 2005 with the goal of replication in all city wards.
In August 2005, Cleveland became an Intel Worldwide Digital Community when it adopted a common database and wireless technology in all key departments, "providing citizen access to government services, and empowering inspectors with tools to access information in the field," Campbell said. A citywide fiber-optic cable helps facilitate the wireless inspection and permit system, which uses handheld computing devices. Cleveland is now in the process of implementing a citywide voice over Internet protocol system.
Campbell's OneCleveland program, in partnership with Intel, is a nonprofit network that serves city agencies, other public-sector institutions and universities. "We have the opportunity to build on this program to help Cleveland's base of traditional manufacturing companies to become more technologically oriented in today's world," observed Campbell. An innovation center for technology is in the works in the city's theater district.
Having concluded her tenure as mayor in January, Campbell continues her work to attract IT investment and international companies to the Cleveland area. She will spend spring 2006 at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as a visiting fellow.
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