to cause positive change.
"There is the constant challenge with the introduction of technology to make sure you do some re-engineering and you just don't have technology replicate the same processes you may have done in the past," she said.
She said this is often best done by asking employees and managers to offer suggestions on how the city can do things differently. By empowering staff, the silos of the past have virtually disappeared in Roanoke.
"I have people who are not only bright and talented in their respective fields, but they also have a sense of the whole," she said. "They care about more than just the department for which they have responsibility. They care about the whole community and the whole organization."
-- Blake Harris, contributing editor
Last year, Massachusetts and the city of Boston launched a virtual community for state and municipal CIOs and IT professionals. The partnership -- which allows IT executives and staff from smaller municipalities to hold online discussions with peers at state agencies -- was considered to be among the first of its kind in the nation.
The man behind the initiative was Boston CIO Craig Burlingame, who created the project to strengthen cooperation between state and local governments.
Burlingame, Boston's first CIO, knows a few things about collaboration. He took the Cabinet-level city CIO position after serving as CIO of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety, where he coordinated technology projects for 23 public safety agencies ranging from the Medical Examiner to the National Guard.
He said he's happy to be working in local government because of the immediacy of the job and because of the possibilities.
"There are no limits to the ways you can apply technology to government services, and the options, in terms of the technology, keep changing like crazy," he said. "Keeping up with it all is part of the fun. Working in the public sector is about a sense of purpose. It's not necessarily about turning a profit. It's not necessarily about making the next number."
Among other IT projects, Boston is revamping its network infrastructure, and focusing on automated forms processing and document imaging to jump-start the use of machine-readable paper forms. Burlingame said forms processing technology is a way to gain efficiencies on the back end of some city systems while still allowing constituents the flexibility to interact with government via the Web or filling out paper forms.
The city is also piloting two e-parking meter projects that allow people to pay meters with credit cards. In one pilot, he said, nearly 40 percent of motorists using the new meters that accept credit cards and coins have opted to pay with credit cards.
Burlingame said IT professionals face a curious challenge in the coming year: distraction.
"Departments are all struggling with resources issues," he said. "They're dealing with less people and less budget dollars. They're distracted, and still trying to deliver quality, important services with those constraints. Being able to focus on IT initiatives and making that kind of innovation a priority, with all those other distractions on their plate, unless you have a surplus of available man hours, it's hard to focus on big IT projects."
-- Shane Peterson, associate editor
Information Technologies Services Project Leader
When it comes to cutting-edge Web portals serving diverse needs of city residents, Tampa, Fla., leads the pack. For two years running, Tampa ranked first among cities with a population of 250,000 or more in the Digital Cities Survey.
The city's portal is rich in interactive, easy-to-navigate applications. Among the services offered