February 29, 2012 By Karen Stewartson
Known as the birthplace of the citrus industry, Riverside, Calif., is an 81-square-mile city completely blanketed with free wireless Internet for low-income households. This feat was made possible under the leadership of CIO Steve Reneker, who’s also the executive director of SmartRiverside, a nonprofit charged with making the city an incubator and economic hub for startups.
Reneker took the reins as CIO in 2004, and with his unique dual role, has collaborated with local businesses and educational institutions to solidify Riverside as a digital destination. Since 2006, Riverside has topped e.Republic’s Digital Cities Survey, which recognizes technical excellence. The city also is a consistently high finisher in the annual Best of the Web survey for innovative and functional government portals. But the city isn’t only nationally competitive. On a global playing field, Riverside was named a Top 7 Intelligent Community for its commitment to broadband and technology innovation for the second consecutive year.
Reneker says he’s proud of Riverside’s 311 mobile app that integrates into its standard 311 system, automatically creating work orders for issues like graffiti abatement. He also points to 600 IP-based video security cameras that let the city police department look at information in real time. Reneker credits much of his success to full support from the city management team and a highly skilled IT staff. The CIO also stays involved in organizations that help him benchmark the city’s success and stay focused on projects — a job he plans on doing to ensure Riverside is the innovation center of California’s Inland Empire.
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