Montgomery County, Md., CIO E. Steven Emanuel. Photo by Cade Martin

The Center for Digital Government announced the winners of its 2010 Digital Counties Survey Awards on Tuesday, July 13. The top winners in each of the four population categories came from Virginia and Maryland: Montgomery County, Md.; Chesterfield County, Va.; Hanover County, Va.; and Charles County, Md.

For 2010, the program's judging approach changed. Unlike years past, when participating governments put together an inventory of their cutting-edge technologies, this year the counties had to submit numerous explanatory narratives on why technologies deployed actually improved life for government employees, citizens or both, explained Todd Sander, director of the Center for Digital Government's Digital Communities program, the division that conducted the survey.

Overall, applicants scored well if they reported collaborative projects involving multiple jurisdictions.

"We were looking for places that were working within their own organizations, but also with their neighbors," Sander said. "Examples would be if they had townships or cities, or if they were working with school districts, the state or with the federal government."

Server virtualization efforts -- as a means to reduce server maintenance -- produced better too, Sander said.

Projects that were motivated to bring transparency got high marks from the judges, and one such project put Montgomery County in first place in the 500, 000 or more population category. The county measured its IT functionality against benchmarks and published the data on its portal, unlike some other applicants, said Sander.

Another area of particular interest among judges was deployment of technologies that reduced energy usage in concrete ways. Chesterfield County had such a project with its automation of park lights. The upgrade eliminated the need for a worker to drive to various parks in order to turn off lights, which eliminated the possibility they would be on unnecessarily and saved money, Sander observed.

Hanover County won the top spot in the 150,000-249,999 population category, partially due to the large volume of IT efficiency projects the county implemented, said Sander.

"Probably more than anybody else in their group size, they were able to use technology to compensate for having to do with fewer employees in dealing with the economic downturn," Sander said. "That included improved project management capabilities, a bunch of cop stuff and lots of mobile devices."

Charles County took top honors in the less than 150,000 population category. Sander cited several upgrades implemented there, one of which was video conferencing for human resources. Video conferencing enabled the county to interview potential employees who were located far away, which eliminated the need for candidates to travel to the county's administrative office for interviews.

Full List of Digital Counties Survey Winners

500,000 or more population:

1st: Montgomery County, Md.

2nd: Prince George's County, Md.

3rd: Palm Beach County, Fla.

3rd: San Diego County, Calif.

4th: County of Orange, Calif.

5th: Oakland County, Mich.

6th: Wake County, N.C.

7th: Fairfax County, Va.

7th: Sacramento County, Calif.

7th: Westchester County, N.Y.

8th: Hennepin County, Minn.

9th: Miami-Dade County, Fla.

10th: Anne Arundel County, Md.

10th: King County, Wash.

250,000-499,999 population:

1st: Chesterfield County, Va.

2nd: Loudoun County, Va.

3rd: Clackamas County, Ore.

4th: Ottawa County, Mich.

5th: Dutchess County, N.Y.

5th: Placer County, Calif.

6th: Guilford County, N.C.

7th: Dakota County, Minn.

7th: Douglas County, Colo.

8th: Forsyth County, N.C.

9th: Washoe County, Nev.

9th: Washtenaw County, Mich.

10th: Hamilton County, Ind.

150,000-249,999 population:

1st: Hanover County, Va.

2nd: Cumberland County, Pa.

3rd: Doña Ana County, N.M.

4th: Boone County, Mo.

4th: Gaston County, N.C.

5th: Roanoke County, Va.

6th: Yuma County, Ariz.

7th: Sussex County, N.J.

8th: Mohave County, Ariz.

9th: Kenton County, Ky.

10th: Onslow County, N.C.

Less than 150,000 population:

1st: Charles County, Md.

2nd: Nevada County, Calif.

3rd: Franklin County, Va.

4th: Skagit County, Wash.

5th: Albemarle County, Va.

6th: Martin County, Fla.

7th: Columbia County, Ga.

8th: Olmsted County, Minn.

9th: Napa County, Calif.

10th: Bay County, Mich.

Andy Opsahl  |  Features Editor