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What’s New in Civic Tech: Boston Seeks Applicants for Soon-to-Be Vacant CIO Position

Plus, deadline to apply for Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award approaches; Tucson Police Department looks to create data-heavy crime analyst superintendent position; and Cook County launches a new map hub and county clerk website.

Boston is seeking applicants for its soon-to-be vacated CIO position via a job posting on the city’s website.

The current CIO, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, announced his departure in December, and his last day is slated to be Jan. 24. Franklin-Hodge, who ascended to the position in 2014, has said that he plans to take some time off of work while deliberating on what his next move will be.

Whoever replaces Franklin-Hodge will report, as he did, directly to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who won re-election in 2017. This job is sure to be a coveted one, as Boston is regularly among the pioneers in gov tech at the municipal level. The CIO in Boston oversees 150 employees and an annual budget of roughly $50 million, which includes both operating and capital.

The CIO will set the strategic direction and lead the staff of five main divisions within the Department of Innovation and Technology, with those five divisions being infrastructure, enterprise applications, digital engagement and service delivery, data and analytics, and broadband and digital equity.

The posting emphasized the prominence of this position within city hall, noting, “The CIO is an important part of the City’s leadership team. In collaboration with other City departments, the CIO implements the Mayor’s strategic goals and increases organizational performance with relation to technology. The CIO is expected to plan and execute an ambitious agenda to support the City’s policy and operational priorities.”

Mayor Walsh has also praised Franklin-Hodge for having “helped to bring city hall and city services into the 21st century in just four short years.” The next CIO will likely build on work already under way in the city.

Deadline for new Cities of Service Engaged Cities award approaches

Bloomberg Philanthropies is sponsoring yet another initiative aimed at giving cities financial support for working on innovative and new ways to tackle challenges in their communities.

The latest effort is the Engaged Cities Award, which is a contest being run by Cities of Service that aims “to find and elevate the growing number of diverse and creative ways city leaders are harnessing the power of people to solve problems.” Some examples of this listed by the award include collaborating with citizen science initiatives to map neighborhood issues, using new methods to gauge satisfaction with public services or crowdsourcing community ideas for long-standing problems.

The deadline to apply for the award is Jan. 5, and winning cities will be eligible to win $100,000 to help fund and accelerate their efforts. The award is open to any city that has more than 30,000 residents and is located in Europe or North or South America. One grand prize winner will get the aforementioned $100,000, while two additional cities will get $50,000 each. Cities can submit multiple applications related to different strategies. Moving forward, the Engaged Cities Award will be an annual opportunity.

Cities of Service and its Engaged Cities Award are both funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, and they are both in keeping with other work supported by the organizaiton. In fact, 324 cities are currently waiting to hear the results of its Mayors Challenge competition, which offers a $5 million grand prize to the city leader with the best idea to solve an urgent problem that local governments face across the country. Meanwhile, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities Initiative is an ongoing effort to support cities that are working to improve government performance through data-driven decision-making.

Tucson Police Department seeks to fill new crime analyst superintendent position

The Tucson Police Department is seeking an experienced crime analyst for its new position of crime analyst superintendent, and city officials say that the job will be heavily steeped in tech and innovation work related to data.

The job posting paints the picture of a police department that is eager to accelerate the way it uses data and analytics to better serve its citizens, noting that this is a command-level civilian position that will “lead and grow the department’s crime and administrative data analysis capacity by developing current and future team members, employing new and innovative performance measure techniques, strengthening partnerships with academic institutions, and leveraging technology to improve service delivery and community satisfaction.”

Essentially, this position is one that aims to take the tech and innovation culture that has become a staple in many city halls across the country and install it into the police department. This may also be part of a trend in which public safety departments in major cities are seeking to bring in data people. In fact, the Philadelphia Fire Department recently created a job posting for a senior lead GIS analyst to help create an analytics team in that city, noting that it “is moving toward increasing its use of data in day-to-day operations, and GIS and analytics will be a large part of this initiative.”

Cook County launches new map hub and new county clerk website

Cook County, which is home to Chicago, recently launched a new online map hub as well as a new county clerk website. Both of these projects are intended to make it easier to share information with the public online.

The map hub, which is officially called Cook Central, is a one-stop shop for the county’s department of geographic information systems (GIS). It was first unveiled last month as part of Cook County’s GIS Day celebration, which sought to remind residents about the uses of mapping. In a press release announcing Cook Central, officials pointed out the value mapping is already providing the community through platforms such as Connect to Cook, which gives business owners, residents and entrepreneurs free online access to critical information they can use to open or relocate business to the county. Other available data map layers on Cook Central include transportation infrastructure, recreation, housing, business and manufacturing locations.

The new county clerk’s office website, meanwhile, provides users with a streamlined and easy-to-navigate interface where they can quickly find links to information from one of the largest election jurisdictions in the country, with popular sections such as vital records, elections, property taxes, ethics, board proceedings and more. 

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine