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Digital Cities Survey 2020 Winners Announced

The Center for Digital Government survey commends cities using technology to better serve their citizens despite new challenges triggered by the pandemic.

2020 Digital Cities Survey Recognizes Leaders in Advanced Analytics Use, Digital Inclusion, and COVID-19 Response; and Announces the 2020 Future Ready Award Winner
Nov. 10, 2020 – The Center for Digital Government (CDG) announced the winners of the 2020 Digital Cities Survey. Now in its 20th year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to tackle response to the pandemic while continuing strategic initiatives to enhance services.

“Innovative cities are utilizing technology and analyzing data to better serve their citizens, respond quickly to citizen needs around COVID-19, and support digital experience initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for their hard work and their efforts to use technology to enhance citizen interactions with government.”

This year’s first-place winners include:

  • City of San Jose, Calif. (500,000 or more population category):
    The IT team supports San Jose’s priority to create a thriving city. IT formed dozens of innovative, digital-inclusive partnerships; provided Smart City platforming; modernized planning, building code and code enforcement digital services; modernized the city’s web presence; connected “Digital Desert” households; reduced 311 language barriers and improved 911 response times. The city’s IT team also utilized data analytics to provide Vision Zero Crash Data to help reduce traffic-related deaths; created a virtual call center to conduct welfare checks on medically-vulnerable residents; and implemented COVID-19 testing for the community’s most vulnerable.
  • City of Virginia Beach, Va. (250,000 – 499,999 population category):
    Virginia Beach’s cloud-first strategy is exemplified by the innovative StormSense project, a regional collaboration project comprised of 12 cities and educational institutions that provides modeling data for city public safety personnel and engineers to predict coastal flooding. An innovative methodology that uses analytics, cloud technologies and open data registries provides rapid visualizations for decision-making during adverse weather conditions.
  • City of Bellevue, Wash. (125,000-249,999 population category):
    Bellevue’s IT team established a Digital Government team that partners with all 14 city departments to develop and support citizen-centric solutions. The team created a Universal Design Guide with branding guidelines for the city and uses AI to analyze social media platform trends. During the pandemic, the team launched a COVID-19 chatbot in six languages and created maps showing food distribution centers and a "What's Open" map to support local businesses.

  • City of Sugar Land, Texas (75,000-124,999 population category):
    The city formed an Office of Performance and Accountability and a Data Committee to deal with data needs and policies. It produced a “Goal Measures” transparent dashboard for 30 key operations that assists personnel in making data-driven decisions. Examples include determining whether and where to open an additional fire station and improving the city’s 311 call center with the assistance of an AI tool that collects performance metrics.

  • City of Danville, Va. (up to 75,000 population category):
    Danville’s comprehensive governance structure includes policy, enterprise IT budgeting, and centralized oversight of IT costs, purchases, and Service Level Agreements. The city’s approach to resiliency planning is a best practice. It includes quarterly testing and annual updates to its strategic plan, daily threat monitoring, collaboration with other departments, and taking actions based on ongoing testing and assessment.

CDG thanks the underwriters of this year’s survey:  Akamai, Amazon Web Services, Crown Castle, EasyVote Solutions, Google Cloud, Laserfiche, Medallia Inc., Oracle, SHI, Spectrum Enterprise, TeamDynamix, Tyler Technologies, and Yubico.

FUTURE READY AWARD 2020: The Future Ready Award, sponsored by Google Cloud, is presented to jurisdictions that are laying the foundation for the disruptive and converging forces that are shaping an uncertain future — through technology or process changes; innovation; engagement with partners; and by harnessing emerging technologies to solve problems.

CDG presented the Future Ready award to the City of Lynchburg, Va. Lynchburg’s alignment of its IT strategic plan with the goals of the citywide plan provides a foundation for the future. The city is engaged collaboratively with the school district and state agencies to solve problems through technology. Its move to the cloud for data recovery helps ensure a strong resilience program. Finally, Lynchburg is identifying and utilizing emerging technologies to solve problems such as monitoring rainfall and water levels at the dam to mitigate possible breaches, and expanding the use of AI and machine learning.

CLICK HERE for the article on the top 10 winners who will be honored at a special virtual awards event on November 10.

Congratulations to the 2020 Digital Cities Survey Winners

500,000 or more population:
1st    City of San José, CA
2nd   City of Los Angeles, CA
3rd    City of San Diego, CA
4th    City of Phoenix, AZ
5th    City of Mesa, AZ
6th    City of Charlotte, NC
7th    City of El Paso, TX
8th    City of Chicago, IL
9th    City of Las Vegas, NV
10th  City of Memphis, TN

250,000 – 499,999 population:
1st    City of Virginia Beach, VA
2nd   City of Long Beach, CA
3rd    City of Greensboro, NC
4th    City of Henderson, NV
5th    City of Chandler, AZ
6th    City of Riverside, CA
7th    City of Wichita, KS
8th    City of Kansas City, MO
9th    Town of Gilbert, AZ
10th  City of Tulsa, OK

125,000 – 249,999 population:
1st    City of Bellevue, WA
2nd   City of Cape Coral, FL
3rd    City of Baton Rouge, LA
3rd    City of Pasadena, CA
4th    City of Norfolk, VA
5th    City of Alexandria, VA
6th    City of Corona, CA
6th    City of Fort Collins, CO
7th    City of Rancho Cucamonga, CA
8th    City of Roseville, CA
9th    City of Hampton, VA
10th  City of Tallahassee, FL

75,000 – 124,999 population:
1st    City of Sugar Land, TX
2nd   City of Lynchburg, VA
3rd    City of Columbia, MO
4th    City of Independence, MO
4th    City of Roanoke, VA
5th    City of Santa Monica, CA
6th    City of Avondale, AZ
7th    City of Carlsbad, CA
8th    City of Allen, TX
9th    City of Roswell, GA
10th  City of Richardson, TX

Up to 75,000 population:
1st    City of Danville, VA
2nd   City of Punta Gorda, FL
3rd    Village of Schaumburg, IL
4th    City of Williamsburg, VA
5th    City of Tamarac, FL
6th    City of Venice, FL
7th    City of North Port, FL
8th    City of Shawnee, KS
9th    Town of Marana, AZ
10th  North Ogden City, UT


2020 Top ten technologies and initiatives which are likely to have an increased focus in the next year:
1. Cybersecurity (#1 for six years consecutively)
2. Budget & Cost Control (jumped back in the top 10)
3. Citizen Engagement/ Experience (was #2)
4. Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations (was #3)
5. Business Process Automation (back in the top 10)     
6. Infrastructure Modernization (up from #8)
7. Business Intelligence/Analytics
8. Data Governance: Transparency, Open Data
9. Networks: Broadband, Connectivity, Addressing Digital Divide (back in the top 10)
10.Hire/Nurture/Retain Competent IT Personnel

Seventy-five percent of cities see an increasing need for cybersecurity staff.

One hundred percent of cities gather and use citizen feedback on their citizen experience channels.

What were the most pressing challenges in responding to COVID-19?
73% - access to supplies, such as IT hardware/equipment for remote work
73% - impact on revenues
69% - remote workforce management
66% - cultural changes
Eighty-seven percent of cities stated their most pressing policy needs in responding to COVID-19 were the telecommuting and work-from-home policies.

Innovative Initiatives and Emerging Technologies Implemented
86% Innovative Cross-Department Business/ Technology Collaboration (up 4%)
77% Internet of things (IoT) /Edge Computing (up 21%)
75% Drones - Applications
49% Artificial Intelligence (up 6%)
5% Blockchain (up 1%)
The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. CDG 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