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Digital Counties Survey 2017 – Winners Announced

The 2017 Digital Counties Survey, now in its 15th year, honors leading counties for programs that encourage government innovation and collaboration.

July 20, 2017 – The Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) announced the winners of the 15th 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 collaboration and shared services, enhance cybersecurity and even reduce carbon emissions. 

“Digital counties are leveraging technology to improve the ways they conduct business and engage with citizens in increasingly innovative and exciting ways,” said Todd Sander, executive director, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for their work to reduce costs, encourage citizen engagement, increase efficiencies and proactively address citizen expectations.”

“As technology continues to grow in all facets of our lives, country governments are adapting and innovating,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The Digital Counties Survey spotlights how counties deploy technology to enhance services and benefit residents while being responsible stewards of taxpayers resources.” 

This year’s first-place winners include: 

  • King County, Wash. (1,000,000 or more population category): King County leverages the cloud for cost savings and reduced carbon emissions. The county cut its data center footprint in half by eliminating its mainframe and virtualizing servers. The county’s innovative conversion process uses Internet-of-Things sensors to convert carbon dioxide and methane gas from waste into clean energy, generating revenues of $1 to $2 million per year.
  • Westchester County, N.Y. (500,000 – 999,999 population category): Westchester County is using technology to provide new and improved citizen services. Strategic investments include the Westchester Telecom network, advanced applications and solutions to streamline the delivery of government services, and collaboration with local municipalities to share services and increase efficiencies.
  • Douglas County, Colo. (250,000-499,999 population category): The Douglas County Innovation League -- a county-wide training program which instills “lean” thinking in every department, team and employee – was launched last year. The training program is based on Lean/Agile and ITIL/ITSM best practices. To date, over 75 county employees have received training and implemented several dozen process-improvement and cost-saving measures.
  • Arlington County, Va. (150,000-249,999 population category): Arlington County’s primary goals are transparency, open government and economic development. Initiatives such as the Open Data Portal and a webcast program are helping the county achieve those goals. County board meetings, work sessions and commission meetings, including online real-time discussions, are streamed live over the internet and are increasing citizen participation exponentially.
  • Albemarle County, Va. (up to 150,000 population category): Albemarle County launched numerous cybersecurity programs following an extensive security audit. In addition, SANS security training is provided for all employees. The county also recently completed the first community telecommunications plan using nearly $200,000 in grant awards, partnering with broadband providers, public safety, fire, schools and the courthouse.
The Center for Digital Government thanks the underwriters for this year’s survey: Accela,  CivicPlus, Dell EMC, ForeScout Technologies, Laserfiche, Microsoft, NetApp/ Cisco, Nutanix, Pure Storage, and SHI. 

Congratulations to the 2017 Digital Counties Survey Winners!

1,000,000 or More Population Category
1st King County, WA
2nd Montgomery County, MD
2nd Oakland County, MI
3rd Wake County, NC
4th County of Alameda, CA
5th Cook County, IL
5th Fairfax County, VA
6th Miami-Dade County, FL
6th County of San Diego, CA
7th Orange County, FL
8th Riverside County, CA
9th Palm Beach County, FL
10th Tarrant County, TX

500,000 – 999,999 Population Category
1st Westchester County, NY
2nd Sonoma County, CA
3rd County of Ventura, CA
4th Baltimore County, MD
5th Prince George's County, MD
6th County of San Mateo, CA
7th Gwinnett County, GA
8th Chester County, PA
9th Dekalb County, GA
10th San Joaquin County, CA

250,000 – 499,999 Population Category
1st Douglas County, CO
2nd Dutchess County, NY
3rd Chesterfield County, VA
4th Washoe County, NV
5th Clackamas County, OR
5th Leon County, FL
6th Cumberland County, NC
6th Dakota County, MN
7th Loudoun County, VA
8th Hamilton County, IN
9th Ottawa County, MI
10th Bell County, TX
10th Durham County, NC

150,000 – 249,999 Population Category
1st Arlington County, VA
2nd Delaware County, OH
3rd Charles County, MD
4th Onslow County, NC
5th Cabarrus County, NC
6th Oneida County, NY
7th Dona Ana County, NM
8th Davidson County, NC
9th Jackson County, MI
9th Pitt County, NC
10th Boone County, MO
10th St. Tammany Parish, LA

Up to 150,000 Population Category
1st Albemarle County, VA
2nd Nevada County, CA
3rd Allegan County, MI
4th Montgomery County, VA
5th Napa County, CA
5th Roanoke County, VA
6th York County, VA
7th Skagit County, WA
8th Summit County, UT
9th Rowan County, NC
10th Coconino County, AZ
10th Tompkins County, NY


Survey results based on characteristics that comprise Digital Counties:

I. Open: Transparency/ Open Data / Data Governance
II. Mobile: Mobility/ Mobile Applications
III. Engaged: Social Media/ Portal/ Citizen Engagement
IV. Collaborative: Shared Services/Collaboration Initiatives
V. Secure: Cybersecurity Measures/ Initiatives
VI. Staffed/ Supported: Hiring and Retaining Competent IT Personnel
VII. Connected: Broadband/Wireless Infrastructure
VIII. Efficient: Budget/Cost Control/ Performance Measures
IX. Resilient: Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations
X. Innovation and Best Practices

2017 Top ten technologies and initiatives which are likely to have an increased focus in the next year:

1. Cybersecurity
2. Hire/Retain Competent IT Personnel
3.. Mobility AND Transparency/ Open Data/ Data Governance
4. Disaster Recovery/Continuity of Operations
5. Citizen Engagement/ Experience
6. Cloud Computing AND Budget & Cost Control
7. Business Intelligence/ Analytics
8. Shared or Collaborative Services
9. Networking: Broadband & Connectivity
10. Virtualization: Server, Desktop/Client, Storage, Applications

Are you using artificial intelligence (AI)?
Not using AI - 27%
Currently using AI - 52%
Plan to use AI in the near future - 21%


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) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service.

Contact: Janet Grenslitt, Director of Surveys and Awards