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Brian Benn

CIO, Atlanta Housing Authority

Atlanta Housing Authority CIO Brian Benn
It’s not enough to bring technology upgrades into the central workings of the Atlanta Housing Authority. Residents living in publicly supported housing also need access to broadband, devices and even technical job training.

“Our mission is to provide affordable housing. But what we want to make sure we provide is quality affordable housing,” said Brian Benn, senior vice president and chief information officer for the Atlanta Housing Authority. Benn laid out initiatives to expand technology and equity among the organization’s 55,000 residents in an initiative known as ACCESS (Achieving Connectivity to Create Equity and Self-Sufficiency), a three-pronged approach “to leveling that playing field.”   

Benn has been CIO for the housing authority for the last two years, but he was no stranger to the agency when starting that position. Prior to a brief stint working in the private sector with a medical insurance firm, Benn served as the housing authority’s senior director of IT business solutions, starting in 2012.

“I already had a good rapport with the senior leadership team, and the board … So coming back as the CIO was almost like coming home,” said Benn.

Since then, he’s worked on developing an enterprise information management strategy and also prioritized getting connectivity and devices into the hands of residents.

“We’re trying to promote digital inclusion, digital equity, and to just kind of level that playing field,” said Benn. “What this pandemic has reminded us is that along with education being the great equalizer, technology is [also] a great equalizer.

“So in a nutshell, the digital transformation that we’re on top of internally, we want to make sure that we’re looking outwardly, and with intentionality,” he said, “so that digital transformation extends to our participants.”  
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.