One challenge of planning editorial coverage for a bimonthly magazine is that the topic you pick at the beginning of the story idea cycle, the one that seems so timely, can become passe by the time the article is published. That certainly seems to be the case with our story on wireless (see Wireless Meltdown).
When we originally planned to write a feature earlier this year, wireless was a hot topic - something many local governments were pursuing with great interest. However, by the time we began working on the story, the subject took a sharp left turn. Several major jurisdictions announced project cancellations around the same time EarthLink, the most active private-sector partner in the field, declared it was all but leaving the market. Suddenly stories about wireless were everywhere - in all the trade publications and even in the mainstream press - reaching saturation point by the time we had put our own article on wireless to bed for this issue.
So what do we have to offer at this point? Something very compelling and overlooked by the rest of the media: the wireless situation from the CIO's perspective. Contributing Writer Chandler Harris interviewed nearly a dozen CIOs for their views on the problems, pressures and promises wireless brings to the community. The result is a compelling look at the situation.
To round out our focus on local government CIOs, we have a special essay by one of the most interesting people in the field (see Soft Skills Required). Gail Roper has spent the majority of her career working in IT for local governments. She started in Austin, Texas, and moved to Kansas City, Mo., where she ran the city's IT department, and is now the CIO of Raleigh, N.C. A key reason we asked Roper to write about her experiences as a public-sector IT executive is her fresh and unique perspective on the role of technology in local government. She discusses the need for CIOs to have "soft skills" in order to handle the hard realities of delivering IT in tough urban environments, where funds are often scarce and the people who need the services the most lack the digital experiences we take for granted.
Finally, be sure to read William Eggers' article on the four myths that keep government from delivering a better customer experience (see Closing the Expectations Gap). Eggers, research director of Deloitte's public sector unit and author of Government 2.0 and Governing by Network, points out that misperceptions are to blame for the public sector's poor record in customer service. Change them and you just might change the public's increasingly negative attitude toward government.
See you in 2008!