Chief Technology Officer, Portland, Ore.
Jeff Baer is a longtime public servant with more than 25 years of experience, over half of it with Portland. Before coming to his current role in 2015, Baer served as director of the city’s Public Safety Systems Revitalization Program. This is notable because one of Baer’s key successes with the city has been helping to facilitate better use of technology in Portland to more effectively serve public safety agencies.
Indeed, two years ago Baer and his team worked to realign public safety-related groups and divisions within the Bureau of Technology Services under one division manager, creating what Baer describes as “a cohesive view of all things tech-related to public safety.” These divisions included emergency management, the fire department, police and 911 dispatch. It sounds perhaps self-evident, but in most American cities, tech use in those separate channels remains disparate and decentralized.
In addition, in 2020 Baer and his bureau were able to remain productive with tech and innovation work while also transitioning to a fully remote work environment in response to the pandemic. This, of course, was a common challenge for local government technologists. Baer, for example, had to rapidly adapt to supporting thousands of work-from-home employees in a matter of days and weeks. This involved preparing a massive amount of technology, including more than 1,300 laptops and 1,100 cellphones. Despite this backdrop, Baer and his team were still able to launch a new portland.gov website that uses an open source Drupal operating system and outwardly makes it easier for residents to search for and find information and services from the city online.
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