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Digital Cities 2022: Building Resilience, Equity and Inclusion

Honorees in this year’s Digital Cities Survey from the Center for Digital Government elevated their municipalities’ resilience, while bolstering services and prioritizing engagement with their residents.

Resilience. Equity. Inclusion. Honorees in the 2022 Digital Cities Survey from the Center for Digital Government* took huge strides with technology to meet these three goals over the past year. Cities pivoted away from crisis COVID-19 response toward an increased focus on resident-centered services and engagement across all city functions. From virtual town halls to investment in connectivity programs, cities reached out to their citizens in new ways, aiming to boost digital access and skills. Underpinning all of these efforts is ample proof that digital cities want to modernize securely, protecting their systems and their communities from the latest cyber threats.

Here’s a look at the first-place winners in each category.


Tech leaders in Schaumburg, Ill., worked across city departments in 2022 to break down data silos and promote data-driven decision-making across the organization.

“What this organization does really well is constantly look for ways to improve either customer services or deliverables in a most technologically advanced and economically feasible way,” said Peter Schaak, director of information technology for Schaumburg, a village northwest of Chicago.

Among their top projects in 2022 was the launch of the Real Time Information Center, or RTIC, at the city’s Woodfield Mall, a huge economic driver for the city and the region. Schaumburg partnered with local law enforcement and private companies to install and operate an elaborate security camera system throughout the mall’s exterior and along the roads leading to the mall. Cameras are mounted at street level to capture license plates and also in elevated locations. They capture vehicle and pedestrian traffic and are monitored in real time by police, which allows prompt response to any criminal activity. The cameras also provide peace of mind to would-be shoppers.

“The system has stopped or helped solve crime in the area,” Schaak said. “Citizens should feel more secure knowing that resources are in place to prevent and solve crime more effectively.”

Schaumburg also established a cross-functional data analytics committee to promote standards and best practices in data analysis and visualization across departments. The group’s work is having an impact, helping to move the city toward truly data-driven decisions.

“It’s unlocked a lot of data silos and islands,” Schaak said.

The city also created a cybersecurity report card, which resulted in a thorough report that distills key cybersecurity practices. Some 30 items long, the report explains and grades the village’s current practices and is shared with senior management in order to inform priority-setting. Initiatives are color-coded according to their need for attention, differentiating between measures that are going well, those that are going just OK and those that need attention.

“It distills a complex technical challenge down to something consumable,” Schaak said, adding that it is having concrete impacts: “The report drives budgets, strategy and operational decisions around cybersecurity.”

Click here to read about all the winners in this population category.


From expanding public Wi-Fi to bolstering cybersecurity and centralizing IT services, Avondale has strengthened its digital presence in multiple areas.

“Avondale has made considerable strides in gathering, analyzing and utilizing the data we collect,” said CIO Jeff Scheetz. “A few ways we have gathered data include digital signage using pedestrian traffic insights, social media monitoring and collecting citizen input through micro-surveys.”

Scheetz explains that Avondale also has continued its focus on the expansion of public Wi-Fi, which has yielded valuable data.

“Using a portal allowed us to determine user demographics and provide opportunities for target marketing with specific events for our parks,” Scheetz explained.

Avondale has also established an internal data warehouse to support quarterly reporting on its strategic plan, which is then shared on the city’s public dashboard. This helps the city reduce silos by making all city-gathered data transparent to all departments as well as the public, and helps inform city decision-making.

The Information Technology Department in Avondale has been working to centralize technology services for several years, including purchasing, project management, implementation, support and asset replacement. An IT governance board facilitates IT strategic planning, manages risk, and provides investment and management oversight.

Avondale also has leveraged state grant programs to help enhance its cybersecurity posture. The IT department expanded endpoint security monitoring of server infrastructure and individual devices, enabling quicker detection and identification of security threats. Other improvements include enhanced web application security and incident response work, like a disaster recovery and incident response tabletop exercise by the city’s IT Internal Audit department.

“In this day and age, cybersecurity is always at the forefront of everything the city does,” said Scheetz.

Click here to read about all the winners in this population category.


Equity, transparency, accountability and community engagement are top priorities for the city of Bellevue, Wash. In 2022, many of the city’s ongoing efforts in these areas came to fruition as staff advanced a new council priority around data analytics and transparency. Bellevue’s IT Department (ITD) partnered with internal customers and the community and launched several interactive dashboards including the Council Priority Dashboard, Police Data Dashboard and the Environmental Performance Dashboard.

“The dashboards help support accountability, equity and transparency, while showcasing work that is important to our community,” said Bellevue CIO Sabra Schneider.

Organizational health is a priority of the city leadership team and part of that effort is planning Future of Work initiatives for public services and staff. The program has adjusted policy, procedures, training, engagement and employee onboarding to support a healthy, connected, engaged and hybrid workforce.

“The work started with a comprehensive employee survey followed by two focus groups,” explained Schneider. “In addition, Bellevue invited the public to participate in a workshop to co-create hybrid government services and help the city prioritize.”

Initiative deliverables include: Twenty colleague connect sessions, which are short, informal trainings designed to help employees learn new things while connecting with each other and practicing with tools, processes or technology; updated policies and procedures for remote work, information security and hybrid work schedules; and a Future of Work intranet site with training, self-help videos and short guides, best practices, applicable policies and employee well-being resources. The city also updated its ITD help desk materials for hybrid work and troubleshooting basics and deployed hybrid technology in council chambers, commission meeting rooms and more than half of the conference rooms in city hall.

Bellevue also launched several projects designed to make it easier for the community to access resources. Its chatbot supports general questions in eight languages — just one element of its expanded translation services online — and its redeveloped public Document Center allows the public quick access to frequently requested documents such as ordinances, agenda packets, resolutions, meeting minutes, and interlocal agreements via search and filter tools.

Click here to read about all the winners in this population category.


Lea Eriksen, director of technology and innovation for the city of Long Beach, says 2022 was all about improving the city’s resiliency while focusing on the ongoing recovery from the most intense period of the pandemic. But they also had specific goals for their recovery.

“We wanted to ensure the recovery was equitable by using data to make sure we are targeting our investments in areas most of need,” explained Eriksen. “We looked at the Long Beach businesses and residences most impacted by COVID or other factors as well.”

The city’s data team developed a recovery dashboard — described by Eriksen as a “significant accomplishment” — to be transparent about how Long Beach spent its American Rescue Plan dollars and other grants. “It has qualitative and quantitative data to show the results and impact of the spending,” she said.

The qualitative data tells people’s stories. Eriksen says city employees used Trello and Miro to communicate and develop the dashboard. The city engaged the public to evaluate the dashboard and make improvements.

Eriksen says the city also works to ensure its outreach is inclusive so that everyone who wants to be heard is heard and can participate as the city makes decisions and investments. To that end, the city held virtual town hall meetings and trained staff on developing equitable data collection surveys. Long Beach uses Zencity artificial intelligence tools to analyze and synthesize survey data and also to help develop community surveys.

“Equity is a key theme in how we reach out to our residents and in the demographic data we collect,” says Eriksen. “We need to make sure we collect the right amount of data to better understand where we invest.”

The city also launched a procurement platform, Long Beach Buys, where businesses can register and sell goods and services to the city. “One of our goals is to spend local,” says Eriksen. “As part of Long Beach Buys, we target local businesses and diverse businesses.”

Eriksen says the city continues to make internal improvements to its operations using technology, facilitating hybrid work, digitizing processes and making more services available online while ensuring all upgrades have cybersecurity at their core.

“We are leveraging creative technology approaches to promote community resiliency and equitable outcomes for our community,” she said. “We are hoping to earn public trust through our transparency.”

Click here to read about all the winners in this population category.


According to San Diego CIO Jonathan Behnke, one of the city’s top achievements of late has been the creation and development of the city’s digital equity program, SD Access 4 All. Since its inception two years ago and recent advances in 2022, the program has provided devices, broadband access, digital literacy training and digital navigator support to help close the digital divide that has left 53,000 households in San Diego without Internet access and over 18 percent without computers.

“The city created a Digital Equity Working Group to partner with ISPs, community-based organizations, and nonprofits to focus resources in the communities that need them most,” Behnke explains of the process.

The SD Access 4 All program began during the middle of the pandemic and started with outdoor computer labs at city libraries with tables, chairs and shade canopies where patrons could check out laptops and get connected. Public Wi-Fi was also expanded at city park locations to cover recreation centers and other areas of the parks. To broaden access further, the city added 255 street-level public Wi-Fi locations in low-income communities, thus providing broadband capabilities to neighborhoods and businesses nearby.

“We were hoping this phase of the project could perhaps reach 25,000 users, but after the first 10 months we found there were over 200,000 unique users and over 1.4 million Wi-Fi sessions,” says Behnke.

SD Access 4 All continued to expand at library locations by adding 2,000 mobile hot spots and Chromebooks for patrons to check out for three months. The adoption rate was so high that the city added funds to its budget this year to increase the quantity to 4,000.

“The library sent over a picture of a man and his mother who were so grateful for the new digital equity programs,” Behnke said. “The man checked out a mobile hot spot to connect his household and after a couple of months he brought his mother to the library to get a library card and allow her to check out a Wi-Fi hot spot so she could stay connected with him and his family.”

SD Access 4 All also began offering digital literacy training at various locations across the city. The training helps people learn how to use Zoom and gain telehealth access, education resources, job resources, and other critical digital skills needed today.

The city also entered into the San Diego Regional Cyber Lab, which brings the city of San Diego, the San Diego Law Enforcement Coordination Center, and other cities in the region, as well as local academia, into a partnership with the California Cyber Security Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), FBI, and the U.S. Secret Service to enhance cybersecurity. The lab facilitated a region-wide assessment which identified the top security priorities, leading to training, information sharing, and coordinated incident response. The lab supports these priorities with several programs, including a cyber range that allows partners to train and test cybersecurity tools, and provides specific training and tabletop cyber events.

“The city is excited about this new regional partnership and future opportunities to expand the program benefits and information sharing,” says Behnke.

Click here to read about all the winners in this population category.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology’s parent company.

Future Ready
The city of Allen, Texas, is laying the foundation to meet the challenges of an uncertain future through its expanded — and creative — use of technology. The city launched software that sends a text message to 9-1-1 callers acknowledging their need for police assistance. The text is followed by a survey seeking vital response information. Working with the state of Texas cyber-resources program, Allen also created a 12-city disaster mutual aid agreement and put response procedures in place. Finally, using data visualization tools based on GIS and PowerBI, the city is measuring neighborhood equity to pinpoint underserved areas for enhanced service provision.

Pamela Martineau is a freelance writer based in Portland, Maine. She moved to Portland in 2019 after a 30-year stint living and working in California. A UC Berkeley graduate, Pamela worked at numerous daily newspapers including The Sacramento Bee. As a freelance writer, she has written about health care, education, technology, climate change, and water issues. She has two adult sons and a mischievous cocker spaniel.