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Michael Pegues

CIO, Aurora, Ill.

Michael Pegues
Alex Garcia
In 2017, when Michael Pegues found himself in the office of Richard C. Irvin, mayor of Aurora, Ill., he was asked how he would structure IT to help facilitate the city’s objectives. Not long afterward, Irvin made Pegues the CIO of Aurora.

“From my perspective, technology is the common denominator for local and global growth,” Pegues said. “Everything you do, you should be looking to see how technology can enable that and make it simpler.”

By the end of his first year, Pegues had merged the city’s IT resources and staff, saving the municipality $2.3 million. Pegues’ business-minded style was honed during his time as a vice president at Morgan Stanley, where he managed a global budget of $150 million

Last year, Aurora acquired eight high-tech kiosks that serve as information sources for people looking to uncover what the city has to offer. The kiosks, equipped with cameras, can also contribute to public safety by posting announcements like Amber Alerts. One of the first cities to feature these machines, Aurora’s contract with the vendor and the advertising revenue they generate means the units have cost the city nothing. That fact highlights a crucial point for Pegues when he considers the other places — New York City, Kansas City and Louisville among them — that use the kiosks.

“They actually paid for theirs,” Pegues said.

Pegues envisions a smart-city future for Aurora, but not without a thoughtfully created road map. Since late 2017, Aurora has been engaging with Smart City Capital to craft a multi-year contract. The plan is still developing, but the wait is part of the point. Pegues argues that a city can’t become smart in 12 months, which is the typical horizon that most cities can’t see beyond.

But Pegues does see beyond the technology, asking a different question when it comes to Aurora’s smart city future. “How do I make this sustainable over a period of time?”

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.