going to cultivate this data into meaningful information?"
Smith and Cannon also have to deal with operating in an extremely tight labor market. Despite last years allure of dot-coms, Smith was able to keep most of his staff intact, giving them the opportunity to work on streaming video, Web personalization, online registration for parks and recreation activities and automated GIS applications.
Robert Giddens, director of Management Information Systems in Buffalo Grove, Ill., also understands staffing issues. He figures that technology can save the village of 43,300 residents money because he wont have to hire additional staff. The villages total budget of $5.6 million includes just $356,000 for IT. Thats $8.22 per resident per year.
"By looking at processes we are able to automate redundant tasks," Giddens said.
For example, purchase orders that previously passed through many hands and took three weeks to approve are now entered by one person and approved by the various departments electronically during a cycle that takes just days to complete. The same staff that previously typed purchase orders can now play customer service roles.
Similarly, city police reports were previously written in the field, retyped by administrative personnel and filed in the records department, which was only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Officers working at midnight who needed a report would have to call someone in after-hours or wait until the next day. Now the reports are typed into a computer in the squad car and available online immediately.
Tough Tech Talk
Each day, more small local government jurisdictions are getting into the business of technology, and that interest is showing through on a larger scale. For example, the League of Minnesota Cities recently launched its Web for Cities project. King County, Wash., Councilmember Jane Hague, during her recently completed year as president of the National Association of Counties, made technology a major focus with an eye on helping small jurisdictions. Meanwhile, local government officials, especially those from smaller jurisdictions, are being asked to speak at more and more technology conferences about their successful IT projects.
Together they are proving that little cities can do big things too.