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Digital Counties Survey 2018 – Winners Announced

The Center for Digital Government's 2018 Digital Counties Survey commends counties that deploy innovative technology practices.

July 11, 2018 – The Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) announced the winners of the 15th anniversary 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 utilizing technology and data to better inform and protect themselves and their citizens, to save taxpayer money and to provide a better citizen experience,” said Teri Takai, executive director, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for all the efforts they are making to improve the lives of their residents and others.”

“Effective technology has proven to be a key tool for efficiency in many facets of county government,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “We applaud this year’s Digital Counties Survey winners for showcasing the value of innovation and adaptation. Their embrace of cutting-edge approaches has benefited residents while ensuring good stewardship of taxpayer resources.”

This year’s first-place winners include: 

  • Montgomery County, Md. (1,000,000 or more population category): As part of their digital government strategy, Montgomery County added 47 new datasets to complete 150 published, consumable datasets, and added a Chief Data Officer to manage the expanded open government, open data, open budget, open spending and performance management portals. The county also completed an Artificial Intelligence pilot using Amazon Alexa as a virtual assistant to help people access their open data.
  • County of Sonoma, Calif. (500,000 – 999,999 population category): During and after last fall’s wildfires, which destroyed over 5,300 residences and businesses, the County of Sonoma and City of Santa Rosa collaborated on a co-branded website to provide citizens with comprehensive response/recovery information, including a Fire Debris Removal request and tracking function. Online resources were built to facilitate communications, visualizations, evacuation/shelters, housing, debris removal and more. Facebook, Twitter and additional social media were used and continue to be strong tools.
  • Dutchess County, N.Y. (250,000-499,999 population category): County progress was made with shared services, cloud-based migrations, cybersecurity and county end-user training. Shared services are robust with a new coordinator position; an annual summit; 32 shared services for municipalities; a $1 million annual incentives grant program; and additional IT offerings -- saving municipalities millions of dollars.  GIS applications are shared with 30 municipalities, businesses and the public for a $15 million annual savings.
  • Arlington County, Va. (150,000-249,999 population category): Arlington ensures that investments in smart city technologies and infrastructure fulfill citizen expectations. Measures include the Digital Destiny campaign, input from community groups and a data analytics partnership with Virginia Tech. The county formed a Digital Innovation team to initiate the Open Data Portal, Data Analytics program, mobile applications and the use of Microsoft 365 tools.
  • Nevada County, Calif. (up to 150,000 population category): Citizen engagement is a priority in the county with the "Participate Nevada County” crowd-sourcing website for residents' ideas and comments on upcoming county projects. Additional strategic initiatives include increased agility, moving additional applications to the cloud, and taking a pro-active approach to cybersecurity. The Board of Supervisors’ strong ICT investment policies and enterprise technology reserve funding has been a key to success.
The Center for Digital Government thanks the underwriters of this year’s survey: Accela,  CivicPlus, Dell EMC, Laserfiche, Microsoft, NEC Corporation of America, Nutanix, Periscope Holdings, Pure Storage, Spectrum Enterprise, Tanium and Tyler Technologies. 

Congratulations to the 2018 Digital Counties Survey Winners!

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

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

250,000 – 499,999 Population Category
1st Dutchess County, NY
2nd Chesterfield County, VA
3rd Frederick County, MD
4th Douglas County, CO
5th Durham County, NC
6th Dakota County, MN
6th Santa Cruz County, CA
7th Hamilton County, IN
8th Washoe County, NV
9th Erie County, PA
9th Leon County, FL
10th Bell County, TX
10th Clackamas County, OR

150,000 – 249,999 Population Category
1st Arlington County, VA
2nd Charles County, MD
3rd Cabarrus County, NC
4th Boone County, MO
5th County of Davidson, NC
5th Pitt County, NC
6th Delaware County, OH
7th Union County, NC
8th Onslow County, NC
9th Paulding County, GA
10th Jackson County, MI

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


Survey results based on characteristics that comprise Digital Counties:

I. Open: Transparency/ Open Data / Data Governance
II. Citizen-centric:
Government Experience (Mobile, Engaged, Digital Services)
III. Collaborative:
Shared Services/Collaboration Initiatives
IV. Secure:
Cybersecurity Measures/ Initiatives
V. Staffed/ Supported:
Hiring and Retaining Competent IT Personnel
VI. Connected:
Broadband/Wireless Infrastructure
VII. Efficient:
Data-driven; Budget/Cost Control
VIII. Resilient:
Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations
IX. Innovative:
Innovative Initiatives and New Technologies
X. Best Practices

2018 Top ten technologies and initiatives which are likely to have an increased focus in the next year:

1. Cybersecurity (# 1 for five years consecutively)
2. Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations (was # 4)
3. Citizen Engagement/ Experience (was # 5)
4. Hire and Retain Competent IT Personnel
5. Transparency/ Open Data / Data Governance
6. Mobility/ Mobile Devices/ Applications
7. Budget and Cost Control
8. Business Intelligence/ Analytics
9. Shared/Collaborative Services AND Cloud Computing
10. Networking: Broadband and Connectivity

Drones -
40 percent of responding counties have implemented use of Drones; 11 percent are piloting; 17 percent are planning to use drones within two years.

IoT -
36 percent of counties have implemented projects using Internet of Things (IoT)/Edge Computing; 11 percent are piloting; 16 percent are planning to use IoT within two years.

Artificial Intelligence –
21 percent of counties have implemented applications using AI; 14 percent are piloting; 16 percent are planning to use AI within two years.

Voice Messaging Apps –
23 percent of counties have implemented Voice Messaging Apps (such as WhatsApp, Kik, Facebook Messenger, etc.); 19 percent are planning to use these apps within two years.

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