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Omar Sandoval

IT Director, Naperville Park District, Ill.

Omar Sandoval
Alex Garcia
Before embarking on a new project for the Naperville Park District in Naperville, Ill., Information Technology Director Omar Sandoval considers how it will benefit residents, especially parents, something that has become more important since he became a father about a year ago.

“I try to do things differently and put myself in the shoes of the people I’m trying to help,” Sandoval said. “My ‘why’ is that I want to have as big of an impact as possible in anything that I do.”

That’s why projects like the Naperville Park District mobile app are so important to him. Residents can quickly explore events on the app’s calendar, find locations, register for activities and more. The app is copyrighted and uses patented APIs to deliver services.

Sandoval and his team are developing a market feasibility and community survey to gauge if services should remain status quo, or if residents would be better served with new types of programming. That’s the key to staying competitive in parks and recreation, he said, facilitating enjoyable activities that will make residents lifetime customers.

Recently, the park district solicited feedback from the community about how they receive information, what type of smartphone they use and what type of digital assistant they own. Most park district customers use Apple iOS, which helps guide app development resources.

The survey also informed Sandoval’s decision to establish Naperville as the first park district in the country to feature an Amazon Alexa skill. The end goal is to provide Alexa with time-saving answers to simple questions, such as if an event has been canceled due to inclement weather.

“Technology is now a lifestyle that we have to try to keep up with,” Sandoval said. “What we’re striving to do is become a hub for the community.”
Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.