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The new breed of CIO

Jonathan Andrews and Richard Forster asked a select panel of cities to explain the management structure of their smart city programmes, the impact of data and analytics, and whether or not cities should license their own intellectual property

How would you define the role of CIO in the city administration and how has it evolved?

Chan Cheow Hoe, CIO, Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Singapore

GovTech, doesn’t oversee city administration. Our role is very simple: we are the central agency that works with city-planning agencies to develop tech solutions to enhance the effectiveness and productivity of their operations. For example, GovTech worked with the Municipal Services Office to develop an app called OneService that enables the public to report municipal issues, such as choked drains, to the right agency, without the inconvenience of being channelled from one agency to the other. In the past we tended to look at just ICT infrastructure, systems, enterprise IT; but with the advent of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, we are making sense of data to develop apps and solutions to optimise city management on a large scale.

Brenna Berman, CIO, Chicago

As the CIO and Commissioner of the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) for the City of Chicago my role has three parts. I am responsible for all of the operational technology that city departments depend on from email to enterprise applications to mobile apps to critical infrastructure. I also lead the mayor’s [Rahm Emanuel] data-driven innovation portfolio, which includes our smart cities projects. I also spend some of my time focused on tech-driven economic development. The role of the CIO in Chicago has evolved over the past five to 10 years to become more outward facing and focused on providing innovation not just for the city departments which my department supports but also for the residents directly through programmes such as open data.

Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, Dubai

The Smart Dubai Office is uniquely positioned as one of the few government ‘offices’ which is structurally different from government departments. These offices are leaner, more agile and more entrepreneurial, so we have a lot of support to try new approaches and innovate. Collaborating with our partners from different government entities, as well as the private sector unifies everyone to work towards the same goal. No one entity can make the city smart: we need to leverage the expertise of everyone.

Iñigo de la Serna, Mayor, Santander

The role of the CIO is to guarantee that the ICT infrastructure of the municipality is evolving according to both technology availability and societal demands. It is important that the CIO is always alert to promptly detect new trends and possibilities brought by ICT. The latter implies that the CIO should have an important creative sense. The CIO’s responsibility has evolved in the same manner ICT has done during the last 30 years. In the last decade, CIOs led the deployment of e-administration services aimed at easing the interaction of citizens with the municipality. At present, CIOs have to commit to big revolutions and possibilities brought by a new paradigm, namely, the Internet of Things (IoT) and to make such technology available to citizens through new apps or platforms.

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