When a fire caused part of Interstate 85 to collapse north of downtown Atlanta in March 2017, leading to major traffic issues as crews worked for a month to re-open the road, the city’s mayor asked government employees to work remotely if they could.

The Atlanta Housing Authority was uniquely well-suited to that request.

For that, the agency can thank its CIO, Mark Campbell. Under Campbell, the Atlanta Housing Authority had already put in place a remote work program, enabling its employees to keep working even when disasters like the I-85 bridge collapse happen.

The initiative first required Campbell to lead a server virtualization effort, which he said was central to completing the project on time.

“We virtualized over 100 servers, and that allowed us to then move to the virtualization of our desktop environment, which was key because virtualizing our desktop environment, we have control over who can access what information over the network internally and remotely,” he said.

[click_to_tweet]@HousingAtlanta CIO Mark Campbell virtualized both servers and desktops, enabling a remote work option that keeps the agency open for business when emergencies hit #govtech[/click_to_tweet]

Campbell has plenty of experience with agency-level IT leadership, having served as CIO of Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Boston Public Health Commission in the past, as well as deputy CIO of Atlanta. In his work, he’s keen to make the business case for projects he’s pursuing: Not only does remote work help the city keep running in the face of disasters, it also allows it to use its office space more efficiently and cut down on operational costs. When it comes to digital literacy initiatives for senior citizens — also part of Campbell’s work — it not only helps people who the Housing Authority serves, but it also helps them access other city services.

He’s taking that message with him as he pursues innovative new projects for his agency. Campbell is looking at ways to use mobile phones to change the way the Housing Authority does its work, including by digitizing the application process.