March 3, 2009 By Emily Montandon
Aurora, Colo., surpassed much larger cities to win the Center for Digital Government's Digital Cities survey in 2007 and 2008. With Mark Pray, the city's IT director, at the helm, Aurora has deployed many cost-saving services and increased efficiency in operations.
Aurora offers more than 60 online services to serve citizens and improve internal functions. The city's online inspection scheduling tool, for example, automatically creates routes for the city's various inspectors.
Pray's department also issued to street inspectors GPS-enabled devices equipped with voice recognition technology to instantly create maps for fixing downed street signs, potholes and other necessary repairs.
Aurora also took the lead in Colorado's CopLink initiative, which will let law enforcement share data statewide. Pray worked with the Aurora police chief to make the initiative a reality, and played a role in developing the vendor-licensing and data-sharing agreements. "The police department recognized that we could add business value to their process," said Pray.
He said Aurora's success is due to a smart technology team and a good governance process.
"We are down the road with ITIL and have seen significant benefit from that in being able to reduce outages and reactions to outages, which allows us to focus on projects," Pray said. "So operational efficiency and excellence have allowed us to do a lot more with a lot less."
Pray credited city leadership with keeping Aurora at the forefront of technology. "Our administration believes in helping the citizens work with the city," he said. "And my peers, the department heads, are very demanding. They make us excellent. They won't accept anything less."
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