Riverside — California’s fourth most-populous county — has named a new top technology official and a manager of efforts to bring high-speed broadband to its more than 2.3 million residents.
Dave Rogers, who was Microsoft’s senior director of cloud computing before joining the county 19 months ago, is Riverside County’s new chief information officer, he confirmed to Government Technology.
Rogers joined the agency in December 2015 as its chief technology officer after more than a decade at Microsoft. He was named interim CIO on May 12, and appointed CIO on June 6, replacing former CIO Steve Reneker, Public Information Officer Ray Smith confirmed via email.
Among his goals, Rogers told Government Technology, is “working to change the organizational culture of central Information Technology,” by creating “far more collaborative conversations than had existed in the past, with a focus on service first.”
“I think our goals were the same. I just have a slightly different approach,” Rogers said, “and I’ll say, which has been to eliminate much of the opinions and replace it with evidence-based facts and evidence-based decision-making.”
Reneker has taken a new role with the county as an Information Technology Manager III classification, Smith told Government Technology, “working on the broadband project.” The recent CIO’s LinkedIn profile lists him as Riverside County Information Technology (RCIT) RIVCOconnect Manager, a post he assumed earlier this month.
He’d been CIO since May 2015, but as an online proposers conference on April 20 made clear, the task of securing gigabit-speed broadband for a county that’s home to more people than 15 other states is a large one.
As Reneker characterized it on LinkedIn, the agency intends to become a “gigabit community” by “enticing” an existing or new carrier to bring enhanced broadband services “at reasonable rates in all areas” throughout Riverside County. That includes, he said, cities as well as tribal communities.
The “county is working with communities on expedited permitting, available assets to negotiate, anchor tenancy,” and other issues, Reneker said on LinkedIn, to enable “new enhanced streaming services and Internet of Things (IoT) for long-term economic development benefits.”
Reneker will retire in February, Rogers confirmed, and might have done so earlier, but “we worked with him to have him come back and work.”
“Obviously the time required to focus on it really required a dedicated person, someone with the right passion and motivation. Steve has really always had that, so I think the county was lucky to get him back for a little while to help drive this to conclusion,” Rogers added.
Riverside County issued its broadband RFP on Monday, April 3, as part of the RIVCOconnect Broadband Initiative, a public-private partnership with an estimated value of $2 billion to $4 billion. When finished, officials believe they will have the country’s largest broadband network.
Proposals are due Aug. 15, and an online proposer’s conference about three weeks after the RFP’s release yielded nearly 40 interested parties including representatives of AT&T, Spectrum, Frontier Communications and General Dynamics.
Representatives of the cities of Riverside, Indio and Moreno Valley also attended, as did financial institutions including J.P. Morgan.
Regardless of how many proposals Riverside County receives next month, Rogers said its potential to help the overall economic environment as well as the constituent base is very clear.
The inland agency includes upscale areas like its county seat, the city of Riverside — but its RFP highlighted an economic disparity compared to areas around the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake, and the Coachella Valley Unified School District, where 80 percent of children live in poverty.
Despite the differences across its 7,200 square miles, officials noted during April’s conference that the county’s population grows 2 percent annually.
Rogers said he’s aware of large cities doing projects of this size, but not “of anyone our size even doing one countywide.”