CIO, Arlington County, Va.
Always looking to push technological boundaries, Jack Belcher is one of the longest-serving public-sector CIOs, appointed CIO and director of the Arlington County, Va., Department of Technology Services in August 2000. Since then, he has been out ahead of trends like building fiber networks, instituting bring-your-own-device policies and the Internet of Things. His longstanding commitment to the people of Arlington County and investment in that community meant that while no one could have predicted the impact of the pandemic, Belcher had Arlington in a good position to tackle it head-on. Looking ahead to a remote, mobile workforce and prioritizing digital equity — elements that were built into Arlington’s Digital Services Master Plan for “2020 and beyond” — meant that the county didn’t need to reinvent the wheel when the challenges of 2020 arose.
Belcher points to providing widespread broadband as being the future of government’s role in expanding technology. One way he is working to make sure reliable Internet reaches all corners of his county is through an effort to implement the Federal Communications Commission’s Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The system allows the county to broadcast a signal for 10 to 12 kilometers, and families and students who were not connected before can plug a small device into any laptop or tablet at home to get online. The goal moving forward, he said, is to use this technology to better serve the community and find out how it can be used to meet the community’s needs.
As for how Belcher and his team plan to go about accomplishing this, he said, “We are an information technology company in the business of government. It’s what distinguishes us from the rest and lets us be innovative in coming up with solutions to different problems affecting the community.”
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