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Digital Counties Survey 2020 – Winners Announced

The 2020 Digital Counties Survey, now in its 18th year, honors leading counties for programs that encourage government innovation and improved services to citizens.

by Janet Grenslitt / September 1, 2020

2020 Digital Counties Survey Recognizes Leaders in Use of Advanced Analytics, Digital Equity Initiatives, and COVID-19 Response; and Announces the 2020 Future Ready Award Winner

September 1, 2020 –
The Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) announced the winners of the 18th annual Digital Counties Survey. The survey, conducted by CDG in partnership with NACo, identifies the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services, encourage open data, collaboration and shared services, enhance cybersecurity and contribute to disaster response and recovery efforts. 

“Innovative counties are using technology and 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 make government better.”

“We applaud this year's Digital Counties Survey winners for maximizing the benefits of technology in serving our residents, especially during a time when technology has become even more instrumental in connecting people and places,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The Digital Counties Survey demonstrates how we embrace cutting-edge approaches to strengthening our communities, and achieving healthy, safe and vibrant counties across America .” 

This year’s first-place winners include: 

  • County of Los Angeles, Calif. (1,000,000 or more population category):  The County of Los Angeles successfully aligned leadership and IT programs. All department IT budget requests are aligned to the county's five IT strategic goals which are aligned to overall county goals. The county also established key performance indicators (KPIs) via collaboration with 12 departments in the Justice Metrics Framework. The KPIs combined with advanced analytics provide insights into which programs and services reduce involvement of vulnerable populations in the justice system.
  • County of Ventura, Calif. (500,000 – 999,999 population category): The county made network upgrades to support its COVID-19 response on short notice. In addition, the county created partnerships to provide telemedicine to citizens, and the county's Lean Six Sigma program and STEM for young women program have become county best practices.
  • Chesterfield County, Va. (250,000 - 499,999 population category): The county handled sudden work-from-home orders well in part due to its 10-year technology modernization plan and enterprise approach to data-driven government. For example, the county created the "StratIS" (Strategic Information Sharing) data program. In addition, the county's chatbot, "ChesterBot," helped the county manage a sudden surge in phone call volume during the pandemic's initial stages.
  • Arlington County, Va. (150,000-249,999 population category): The county’s digital equity program is a national model. The county provides digital connections for the most disadvantaged populations, and offers education, training, and programs to enable residents to take full advantage of available resources. For example, libraries and other county facilities offer outdoor, drive-up digital hot spots. 
  • County of Mono, Calif. (up to 150,000 population category): County IT leads a task force for GIS, web, network, and other technology resources. The county created a COVID-19 response app to effectively communicate with the public during the pandemic. Response to dozens of cybersecurity threats each week is also excellent - the county has had no significant security issues in the last two years. In addition, the county has achieved off-site redundancy in data centers that are 60 miles apart.

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

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 County of Los Angeles, Calif. The county's future-ready accomplishments include: establishment of a $10 million Information Technology Fund for innovative technology or multi-department solutions; development of an Enterprise IT Strategic Plan with over 200 business and IT professionals from 37 county departments; establishment of a $20 million Legacy Modernization Fund to modernize mission critical systems; and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict homelessness among adults receiving county services.

Congratulations to the 2020 Digital Counties Survey Winners!

1,000,000 or More Population Category
1st County of Los Angeles, Calif.
2nd Wake County, N.C.
3rd Orange County, Fla.
4th Hennepin County, Minn.
5th County of Alameda, Calif.
6th King County, Wash.
7th Oakland County, Mich.
7th San Diego County, Calif.
8th Miami-Dade County, Fla.
9th Cook County, Ill.
10th Fairfax County, Va.
10th County of San Bernardino, Calif.

500,000 – 999,999 Population Category
1st County of Ventura, Calif.
2nd Prince George's County, Md.
3rd Snohomish County, Wash.
3rd Westchester County, N.Y.
4th DeKalb County, Ga.
5th Gwinnett County, Ga.
6th Baltimore County, Md.
7th San Joaquin County, Calif.
8th New Castle County, Del.
9th County of San Mateo, Calif.
10th County of Chester, Pa

250,000 – 499,999 Population Category
1st Chesterfield County, Va.
2nd Dutchess County, N.Y.
3rd Durham County, N.C.
4th County of Placer, Calif.
5th Leon County, Fla.
6th Sarasota County, Fla.
7th Douglas County, Colo.
8th Loudoun County, Va.
9th Hamilton County, Ind.
10th County of Berks, Pa.

150,000 – 249,999 Population Category
1st Arlington County, Va.
2nd Washington County, Ark.
3rd Cabarrus County, N.C.
4th Columbia County, Ga. 
5th Onslow County, N.C.
6th County of Davidson, N.C.
7th Pitt County, N.C.
8th Union County, N.C.
9th Berkeley County, S.C.
10th Charlotte County, Fla.

Up to 150,000 Population Category
1st County of Mono, Calif.
2nd Albemarle County, Va.
3rd County of Nevada, Calif.
4th Montgomery County, Va.
5th Coconino County, Ariz.
6th Dodge County, Wis.
7th County of York, Va.
8th Carver County, Minn.
9th Franklin County, Va.
10th Vilas County, Wis.

SELECTED SURVEY FINDINGS:

2020 Top Ten technologies and initiatives which are likely to have an increased focus in the next year:

1. Cybersecurity (#1 for seven years consecutively)
2. Budget & Cost Control (moved up from # 9)
3. Citizen Engagement/ Experience (was # 2)
4. Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations (was # 5)
5. Business Intelligence/ Analytics (was # 4)
6. Business Process/ Automation 
7. Cloud Computing (moved up from # 8)
8. Hire/Retain/Nurture Competent IT Personnel (was # 3)
9. Infrastructure Modernization (was # 7)
10. Increased Departmental IT Collaboration (was # 9)

78% of counties see an increasing need for cybersecurity staff.
88% of counties gather and use citizen feedback on channels.
What were the most pressing challenges in responding to COVID-19:
80% - access to supplies, such as IT hardware/equipment for remote work
69% - impact on revenues
65% - remote workforce managment
54% - cultural changes
80% of counties felt their most pressing policy needs in responding to COVID-19 were the telecommuting and work-from-home policies.

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute focused on technology policy 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.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) strengthens America’s counties, including nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees. Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to advocate for county government priorities in federal policymaking; promote exemplary county policies and practices; nurture leadership skills and expand knowledge networks; optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings; and enrich the public’s understanding of county government.

Contact: Janet Grenslitt, Director of Surveys and Awards jgrenslitt@centerdigitalgov.com

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