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Carson’s digital city ranking a team effort

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

Carson City’s 7th place ranking among small cities as a top digital city in the country is a team achievement, said John Wilkinson, director of information technology for the city.

“Folks all over the city are doing a lot of neat things, and the city supports technology to cope with limited resources,” said Wilkinson, who has been with the city about a year and a half. “We have a little bit of a hand in a lot of things.”

The Center for Digital Government, which awarded the rankings, is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.

The annual assessment examines how city governments use digital technologies to better serve their citizens and streamline operations. This is the first year Carson City has been recognized as a Top 10 Digital City in the small cities division.

Some of the 26 projects which helped the city to stand out and gain recognition are:

• The library’s self-checkout scanners and radio frequency identified material, which has allowed the library to expand its hours of operation.

• Despite budget cuts, the city has been able to adhere to its five-year replacement cycle for computers. The city’s oldest computers can actually cause decreased productivity, Wilkinson said. Some computers are rebuilt, but when a computer is no longer useful, its data is cleared and it is donated to a local nonprofit.

• A recreation program registration system expected to go online in early 2011 will allow participants to register and pay on the Internet.

• The Business Resource and Innovation Center also was cited due to its strong emphasis and reliance on technology such as business location analysis software and data.

• Major fiber optic projects are under way.

• The City Center Project was cited for potential components of the project such as the knowledge and discovery center and digital media lab, as well as fiber optic service.

• A program for the fire department and sheriff’s office is about to be implemented, which will handle overtime scheduling to distribute it fairly.

• In order to monitor the city’s progress and track goals in most areas of operation, the city uses a scorecard software program. These results are presented to the board of supervisors each month.

“I don’t know that very many cities are doing this,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a tool for planning and accountability.”

• An automated policy and procedures manual also will allow city departments to draft, review, adopt and distribute formal

policies.

“We are trying to create an environment that helps all these things along, but there is a lot of participation throughout the city,” Wilkinson said.

City Manager Larry Werner said the city maintains a strong commitment to the use of technology as a way to stretch limited resources.

“A lot of the things we do relate to providing information to the public, so the more we can do digitally to make that information readily accessible to the community, the better they are served,” Werner said.

“On the other side of the coin, we continually look to technology as the way to do more with less, and this is even more important in lean economic times,” he said. “I think Carson City did well in this survey because we have departments all across the city which are focusing on being

efficient through the use of

technology.”