IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Digital Counties 2023: Up to 150,000 Population Category

Click here to see our full coverage of the 2023 Digital Counties Survey.

1st Calvert County, Md.

Calvert County shows how public agencies can improve management, procurement and payroll via better technology and planning while also opening up access to residents. The county has implemented Workday, software that focuses on human capital management and enterprise resource planning, streamlining such vital tasks as hiring, onboarding, budgeting, procurement and payroll management. Deployment of the technology, which replaced a system in place since 1995, required a redesign of workflows as well as about a year to complete. The county had to bring into its network external agencies, but the result was a single source of management for HR, financial and operational functions.

Meanwhile, Calvert County uses Zencity to strengthen its ties to residents by analyzing citizen feedback in real time, which in turn helps officials make decisions based on data and set priorities. NextRequest, with the county integrated into its ticketing system, centralizes public records requests in a single platform, which results in more efficient management of those requests and reduces citizen frustrations.

2nd Coconino County, Ariz.

Coconino County, the second largest in Arizona, maintained its second-place finish this year with a focus on digital transformation and improving services through technology. A collaborative project between the county’s IT, sheriff, GIS and emergency management departments resulted in a publicly accessible, interactive map of evacuation zones. Users can view all of the county’s evacuation zones and their status, as well as search for a specific address. The maps can also be downloaded, and the whole system feeds into the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to provide data on evacuation zones statewide.

But that wasn’t the only data dashboard that Coconino County developed recently. A division of the IT department, the Business Applications team, used grant funding from the National Association of Counties to create a dashboard that displays the economic conditions of county residents. The Equitable Economic Recovery Dashboard, which went live in February of this year, uses Power BI to input and process data on changes in economic indicators within the county and displays it all on a publicly accessible dashboard.

Coconino County also looked to technology to streamline internal services. IT and the Finance Department teamed up to implement IonWave, an online procurement tool designed to improve not only the procurement process itself, but also transparency to the public. The entire process can now be tracked electronically, and registered vendors can view all open, closed and awarded bids. They can also receive notifications when insurance policies need to be renewed, and the system can even build a contract directly from an RFP response. It also allows the public to view all current, closed and awarded bids, as well as active contracts, without needing a login.

3rd York County, Va.

York County, Va., claimed the No. 3 spot in its population category by making improvements in public safety, economic development, communications and customer service, environmental stewardship, and technology. Technology improvements for the new fire station in the northern end of the county as well as the Yorktown Public Library and the future public safety building (under construction) include high-speed fiber connectivity and outdoor ADA-compliant voice over Internet protocol emergency call buttons. Improved connectivity was also provided last year to additional libraries, fire stations, a senior center and various public offices across the county. A system for monitoring and controlling wastewater and stormwater runoff was installed to include more energy-efficient pumps.

Constituents, meanwhile, benefitted from website improvements to include a page for requesting permits and updated maps for bike path and sidewalk projects. Customer service employees are able to process public record requests with the assistance of a new software program, and a livestream camera installed in the Yorktown Waterfront area highlights new economic development efforts. The county also increased use of its social media channels on Facebook and YouTube to better communicate with the public. Emergency response capabilities were beefed up across various departments to include new routers, cellphone antennas and tablets that county employees can use in the field. In addition, a backup 911 center was established.

4th James City County, Va.

James City County, Va., has moved up to the No. 4 spot in this category after the agency launched an impressive data-driven initiative with their Fire Department to improve response times and determine if a new fire station is needed. The county’s IT department created a data warehouse from data in the Fire Records Management System, and it developed data sets and BI tools with r-squared and forecasting models installed. The data is updated in real time and provides visual analysis of EMS and fire responses. The IT department and Fire Department worked together for months to test and train the data analytics system, and the initiative helped the Fire Department save $30,000 annually as they won’t have to purchase additional software.

James City County has also been busy updating plans to combat cybersecurity issues. Staff created a response plan used as guidance to identify, act upon, report and resolve cyber attacks. Staff receive regular training and testing to maintain preparedness through tabletop exercises as well as recovery testing tabletop cybersecurity exercises. Additional achievements include a focus on website mobility, the creation of an assistant director position in the Information Resources Management Department who has been assigned the duties of CISO to strengthen the county’s cybersecurity, and the implementation of a constituent engagement chatbot on the county website that has been achieving a self-resolution rate of 82 percent.

5th Franklin County, Va.

Franklin County earned its spot this year in part for recent efforts to close the digital divide, as well as to improve its cybersecurity posture, along with other progress. The county has worked to expand broadband coverage to all corners of the area by making partner agreements with Internet service providers. It has also gotten grant funding from the state and federal government to advance near-universal broadband coverage. The county has completed projects that make high-speed Internet access available to 28,620 residences, with another 5,595 to be added. The county has also upgraded its audiovisual architecture to live stream Board of County Supervisors meetings.

In addition, the county began providing technology and cyber safe best practices training on its website for senior citizens, families with school-age children and small businesses. IT officials also created a multiyear road map for projects to improve the county's cyber resilience and ability to recover from cyber incidents. Bolstering its preparedness further, the county has also created a separate review team with the Sheriff's Office and 911 to further develop the disaster recovery plan.

5th Nevada County, Calif.

Nevada County IT makes another strong showing in the Digital Counties Survey this year with CIO Landon Beard now at the tech helm. The county of more than 102,000 built on accomplishments in broadband, cybersecurity and disaster recovery, working closely with staff and customers. Nevada’s new 2023-2025 Information Systems Strategic Plan has a recurring Stakeholder Voice section that documents service satisfaction metrics. A yearly customer IT satisfaction and value survey helps shape goals and prioritize IT resources in alignment with supervisors. A recent arrival to information systems governance, the new Business Relationship Management Team works with business partners to improve collaboration. The county has deployed several new modules in its digital NeoGov platform, which tracks recruitment across the organization and sets performance goals and measures; simultaneously, HR has gone paperless with employee files.

Emergency preparedness also remains a top priority. The Office of Emergency Services (OES) partnered with the GIS team on a field maps app that lets defensible space inspectors work easily with the local Fire Safe Council to make millions of dollars in defensible space services available to residents who are low income, elderly or disabled. OES, the county sheriff and GIS worked with Ladris Technologies on an AI-driven evacuation route planner tool for an existing dashboard; OES and GIS also developed large-scale evacuation maps showing possible routes and developing difficulties. Officials updated the county’s cybersecurity awareness and training program for staff and contractors, with quarterly training and ongoing phishing testing. The county also stood up a managed detection and response platform. A new tool, ClearPoint Strategy enables performance measuring across the enterprise and links to supervisor objectives. Finally, project reports generated via Power BI, a recent move, now show five-year timelines, and offer frequent updates, enhancing transparency.

6th Dodge County, Wis.

Information technology officials in Dodge County, Wis., have worked hard to create a culture of continuous improvement. Efforts there are guided by an IT committee and a strategic plan that enables enhanced services for the nearly 90,000 residents while also safeguarding government operations.

To protect its operations, the county completed a number of security assessments with the help of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). These assessments helped to identify existing gaps, which will be patched and mitigated as needed. Multifactor authentication is also in place to better protect online assets. Steps have been taken to ensure the continuity of operations through two backup data centers called the Dodge County Data High Availability and Disaster Recovery sites. The IT team is also pursuing a cyber alarm system that will alert them to intrusion 24 hours a day.

The IT department also implemented paperless agendas, packets and voting for the 33-member County Board, using repurposed laptops to keep costs at a minimum. Live audio and video streaming have also made meetings accessible to the public. To maintain transparency with constituents, a portal was created to display American Rescue Plan fund spending.

Finally, the county is in the midst of identifying a new payroll system provider, as the existing system approaches the end of its serviceable life.

7th Goochland County, Va.

Goochland County, Va., is doing strong work to drive government services forward with improved technology solutions. An IT Steering Committee comprising representatives from all county agencies meets quarterly to guide larger tech projects and overall strategy, ensuring funding is well spent and distributed for initiatives countywide. In keeping with Goochland’s push for improved constituent services, a recent effort saw the IT department stand up a new solution for building inspections that allows for both residents and contractors to apply for building permits and pay fees online. This has sped up the permitting process by 200 percent. Inspectors can also more efficiently do their work in the field using tablets to record findings and submit them in real time.

While the IT department is in charge of county cybersecurity, they also work with Emergency Management as needed in times of physical disasters. A security operations center continuously monitors critical network systems, and IT now performs penetration testing annually, up from every two to three years. Goochland follows guidelines from those like NIST and regularly applies for federal grants to bolster cybersecurity across systems, and security training from KnowBe4 is required of all county employees. To facilitate a secure, remote workforce as needed, Goochland IT has completed an integration between Microsoft Teams and Cisco phones for VoIP services and has implemented VPN and multifactor authentication for all county systems.

8th Orange County, Va.

Orange County, Va., is a rural county of 36,000 residents that has made broadband connectivity one of the IT team’s top priorities there of late. The county's geography has long made it difficult for private-sector companies to operate, due to a prohibitive mix of large costs and a small customer base. This past year, however, the Orange County Board of Supervisors created the Orange County Broadband Authority, which got to work proactively getting residents of the county connected to high-speed Internet in their homes. This kind of access, of course, has become a top priority for government agencies nationwide, with a large amount of federal funding making its way down to communities through the states. For Orange County, this marked year one of a four-year deployment process, and during it, the county was able to lay more than 360 miles of new fiber, connecting 3,586 new high-speed Internet users, while placing 5,400 more on a waitlist. In a county this size facing such steep challenges, those numbers are certainly nothing to scoff at.

Internally, Orange County also worked to get better by dispersing surveys about the organization’s culture. These contained questions about whether employees had equipment to do their jobs, as well as whether they are receiving communications. The IT team has been instrumental in responding to the needs that these surveys have identified, leading to more efficiency in county government.

9th Bedford County, Va.

The IT team in Bedford County, Va., saw the culmination of some projects in the last year that were a long time coming. One of them was the completion of next-generation 911, a project that required coordination with the state and years of working to bring data and infrastructure into compatibility. It’s also in the midst of refreshing two data centers to allow for better scaling and cloud deployment, the rollout of a new tax and revenue system, and a PCI gap analysis that has led to improved compliance with payment standards. IT also supported a push to expand broadband by deploying a public dashboard where people can view progress toward high-speed Internet availability for nearly 12,000 serviceable units. The county also celebrated some smaller but decisive victories: In the process of consolidating Internet service provider bills, it negotiated a lower price of service for quadrupled Internet speeds.

10th Albemarle County, Va.

Albemarle County is working to prioritize cybersecurity, piloting several solutions that the county intends to expand. For example, the Albemarle County Information Technology (ACIT) Department is piloting the use of multifactor authentication. Once fully tested by ACIT, the county plans to implement this feature for user accounts. Additionally, ACIT implemented a move from a standard VPN connection to a zero-trust framework for remote staff as a pilot; the pilot was successful, and the county plans to expand this shift.

The county is also working to implement modernized technology solutions to improve processes and the constituent experience. Notably, in the past year, the county has implemented a new ADP payroll system and a new human resources information system. On the constituent side, the county’s work includes the development of a mobile-friendly website, a mobile-friendly development application system, an electronic housing voucher system, a replacement public engagement system and more. The county has migrated to a website hosted by Granicus, and in the future aims to further expand citizens’ access to digital services through broadband expansion efforts – expected to be completed by 2026.

Click here to see our full coverage of the 2023 Digital Counties Survey.