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15th Annual Digital Cities Survey - 2015 Results

Open to all U.S. cities, the survey questions focused on the Top 10 initiatives for which cities were most proud in the areas of citizen engagement, policy, operations, and technology and data.

by Janet Grenslitt / November 2, 2015

U.S. Cities Using Innovative Technologies to Increase Transparency, Engagement and Cybersecurity
Nov. 3, 2015 – e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government (CDG) and its Digital Communities program today announced the winners of the 2015 Digital Cities Survey. The annual survey recognizes leading examples of cities using technology to improve services and boost efficiencies.

Now in its 15th year, the Digital Cities Survey is part of the Center for Digital Government’s Digital Communities program and is open to all U.S. cities. The survey focuses on ten initiatives across four categories: citizen engagement, policy, operations, and technology and data. Responses are reviewed and judged based on a set of criteria and how well the cities implemented technology services across the entire city.

“The top-ranked digital city governments in this year’s survey are using cloud services, data analytics and mobile apps—among other technologies—to help citizens interact with government more easily than ever before,” said Todd Sander, executive director of the Center for Digital Government. “These cities are true innovators and we applaud their efforts to increase transparency and open government, encourage citizen participation, and enhance cybersecurity. Congratulations to the winners!”   

The survey honors cities in four population classifications - see the complete list of winners below.

Here’s a look at this year’s first-place winners:

  • Philadelphia, Pa.’s new "infrastructure of innovation" culture encourages all departments to be more innovative and creative in providing new technology for civic apps, data analytics, and to help underserved populations.  The city’s Innovation Lab provides a city-owned space for multi-department technology development and encourages collaboration with both high schools and universities to mentor students and increase participation in STEM-related education.
  • Alexandria, Va.— a top 10 winner since 2005 — upgraded its network security to protect against cyber attacks and increased broadband speed from 1 gigabit to 10 gigabits per second. New offerings include WiFi in City Hall for residents and businesses and an automated, cloud-based website failover solution to keep the site up even during network outages and extreme traffic increases during natural disasters.
  • Avondale, Ariz. — a first-place winner for three consecutive years— received national recognition this year for its IT governance model, cloud-based disaster recovery and pragmatic approach to cybersecurity.  Avondale participates with other local governments in the OpenBooks transparency initiative that provides access to financial expenditure information for 20 cities within the state. Nearly 87% of citizens in a recent resident satisfaction survey gave Avondale’s municipal services a “Good to Excellent” rating.
  • Shawnee, Kan. — which leaped into the top spot after a seventh-place ranking last year — demonstrates big city transparency and engagement in a small town environment with “Shawnee Connect,” a new community portal and mobile app that helps neighborhoods self-organize around critical issues and provides details and mapping of all 311 reports for 19 service request categories — from pot holes to construction permits.

CDG thanks the underwriters for this year’s survey: Accela, Dell Software, and Laserfiche.

Congratulations to the 2015 Digital Cities Survey Winners:

250,000 or more population:
1st City of Philadelphia, PA
2nd City of Los Angeles, CA
2nd City of Louisville, KY
3rd City of Kansas City, MO
3rd City of Phoenix, AZ
4th City of Seattle, WA
4th City of Wichita, KS
5th City of Las Vegas, NV
5th City of Virginia Beach, VA
6th City of Albuquerque, NM
6th City of Riverside, CA
7th City and County of Denver, CO
8th City of Sacramento CA
9th City of Charlotte, NC
9th City of Greensboro, NC    
9th City of Long Beach, CA
10th City of Austin, TX

125,000 – 249,999 population:
1st City of Alexandria, VA
2nd City of Rancho Cucamonga, CA
3rd City of Augusta, GA
3rd City of Fort Collins, CO
4th City of Fayettevile, NC
4th City of Tacoma, WA
5th Salt Lake City, UT
5th City of Winston-Salem, NC
6th City of Roseville, CA
6th City of Springfield, MO
7th City of Hampton, VA
7th City of Scottsdale, AZ
8th City of Durham, NC
8th City of Fort Lauderdale, FL
9th City of Tallahassee, FL
10th City of Baton Rouge, LA

75,000 – 124,999 population:
1st City of Avondale, AZ
2nd City of Boulder, CO
2nd City of Roanoke, VA
3rd City of Richardson, TX
4th City of Ann Arbor, MI
4th City of Davenport, IA
5th City of Sugar Land, TX
5th City of Westminster, CO
6th City of Brooklyn Park, MN
6th City of Lynchburg, VA
7th City of Columbia, MO
8th City of Bloomington, IN
9th City of Lake Forest, CA
10th City of Independence, MO
10th City of San Leandro, CA

Up to 75,000 population:
1st City of Shawnee, KS
2nd City of Fayetteville, AR
3rd City of Santa Cruz, CA
3rd Village of Schaumburg, IL
4th City of Palo Alto, CA
4th City of Tamarac, FL
5th Town of Marana, AZ
5th City of Rancho Cordova, CA
6th City of Albany, OR
7th City of Manassas, VA
7th City of Wiliamsburg, VA
8th City of Hudson, OH
9th City of Evanston, IL
10th City of Goodyear, AZ
10th City of Punta Gorda, FL

CLICK HERE for more information on the top 10 winners who will be honored at a special awards ceremony during the National League of Cities’ annual conference in Nashville on November 5th.


2015 Top ten technologies and initiatives which are likely to have an increased focus in the next year:

  1. Cyber Security
  2. Open Government/ Transparency/ Open Data
  3. Mobility / Mobile Applications
  4. Hire and Retain Competent IT Personnel
  5. Portal/ E-government
  6. Broadband and Connectivity
  7. Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations
  8. Cloud Computing
  9. Governance; and Virtualization
  10. Budget and Cost Control

How many staff (FTE equivalents) across the enterprise support city IT?

  • 74% have fewer than 100 staff

Top 5 Most Widely-Adopted Technologies - City-Wide
69% Geospatial/ Mapping (GIS)
67% Virtualization (Server, Desktop, Client, Storage, Applications)
60% Performance Benchmarks, Measurement and Reporting
58% Transaction Processing
57% Project Management (Policy and Operations)
(tie) 57% Consolidation (Data Centers, Services, Software, Staff)

Top 5 Technologies - City-Wide: Will Upgrade/Expand/ Replace in 18-24 mos.

53% Legacy Applications
43% Mobile Apps
41% Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Continuity of Operations, Backup
(tie) 41% Network (Broadband and Wireless Infrastructure)
39% Security (Cyber and Information)
37% ERP Applications

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.

The Center is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.


Janet Grenslitt
Director of Surveys and Awards

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