How Ann Arbor Won the Digital Cities Award Sponsored by AT&T

annarbor-attLast month, a representative from AT&T presented a Digital Cities Survey award to the City Council and IT department of the City of Ann Arbor. I knew they won, but I didn’t know about AT&T coming in and presenting the award. I learned of this in Dave Askins’ very cool article about how he was able to use Granicus technology and a GIS system to solve a municipal mystery. Since AT&T’s presence emphasized the increasing gravity of the annual Digital Cities Survey, I wanted to know more about this award presentation. To do so, I used the very same Granicus technology to look up the meeting details and view a clip of the award speech. So, how did Ann Arbor do it? Here’s how it all went down:

AT&T Award Sponsorship

Roger Blake, the regional Vice-President of AT&T’s Government and Education Team, stepped up to the podium to present the award. He gave a picture of how this all fits into context with AT&T. Basically, AT&T is interested in how governments are utilizing mobile data, cloud services, and other communication technologies to identify best practices and to predict where technology is going and how that impacts AT&T’s business strategies.

The Judging

Blake explained that the judges, this year in particular, have been looking for entrants who are, “adopting processes that mobilize government services for citizens, [making it easier] for citizens to access services and information from a mobile device, and agencies that are adopting what are called ‘cloud computing’ services.” That was pretty much the judging strategy in a nutshell, and it happens to be perfectly descriptive of Granicus’ open government solutions.

Ann Arbor’s Winning Ways

Ann Arbor has now placed on the Digital Cities Survey for the past four consecutive years. Last year, they climbed the list to number 10. This year, they made it all the way to number 5! That’s a significant leap if you think of the increasingly strict judging parameters and the annual increase in entrants. Blake went on to explain the short list of what the judges saw in Ann Arbor that gave them that bump this year:

  • “Best in class transparency.” Blake called it that. That’s Granicus’ Legistar & Insite implentations from our Legislative Management Suite. Blake went on about this at length, unlike the other items, and even explained how there was massive paper reduction achieved as a result of Ann Arbor’s online open data catalogue.
  • Shared services. This is a big money-saver and a method that can be applied to anything from garbage removal to high-tech data centers. Ann Arbor happens to be sharing a data center with the county resulting in savings, “to the tune of two million dollars,” annually. They also share video surveillance and employee Wi-Fi services with the county.
  • Cloud strategies. The city has assembled an additional savings of $300,000 annually with cloud strategies and online data archival solutions. The importance of government cloud strategies was emphasized repeatedly.
  • The mobilization of citizen access to permits.
  • Fleet management software. Honestly, I’m not sure what fleet we’re talking about, but the management of any fleet is a tricky thing.

annarbor-awardThen it was time to deliver the award. Blake pointed out that while awards are often frequent business  in government, this award is particularly important because it is a prestigious award that sets an example nationally. Then Blake said something I didn’t expect, and which may just be the most salient statement of all. He addressed the City Council, saying, “Congratulations to the entire city, and it’s really your adoption of business practices and transforming your business practices based on the foundation that the IT team has put in place, and your cooperation and working together that makes it possible for you to win this award every year.”

Dan Rainey, Ann Arbor’s IT Director, was then handed the award to great applause.

Congratulations, Ann Arbor!

And guess what… it doesn’t stop there. In the related articles section below, you can read all about how cities and counties are dominating these annual Center for Digital Government surveys, taking home at least 50% of all the winners! I think that speaks volumes.

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