Cisco hosted the quarterly meeting of the Joint Policy Collaborative (JPC) yesterday on our San Jose campus with special guests, Mayor Curt Pringle of Anaheim, CA and Toni Cramer, the CIO of Bellevue, WA. The JPC is a project of the Santa Clara County Cities Association, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) and the goal is to collaborate on policy objectives that can be accomplished at the local level with input from industry and government. The group, consisting of mayors and councilmembers from Santa Clara cities, as well as industry representatives, heard some innovative ideas yesterday.
Mayor Pringle is one of those politicians who seems to have an R or a D next to his name only because he has to choose one of them…he really seems to be only concerned with accomplishing what is good for his city. Partisanship, clearly, doesn’t do much for his city, so he steers away from it. In his tenure as mayor he has brought some original thinking and a can-do attitude in approaching the “customer service” aspect of a govenment’s relationship with its citizens.
One of the most innovative things he has done and what seemed to garner the most interest from the meetings’ attendees was his implementation of a “Home Improvement Holiday” – the waiving of all building permit fees for an 100 day period. Nearly $26M was invested in homes during this time…improving the value of the homes, as well as improving the city’s relationship with its citizens. What does this have to do with technology, you might ask? Not a lot, but what technology can do for government is to fundamentally change the way that citizens view their government…this is where Toni Cramer of Bellevue comes in. She freely admits that she couldn’t necessarily tell the difference between a server and a stereo, but her focus on creating and giving her customers what they want is a philosophy that you don’t hear often enough about in government. She and her team have created many tools to make permitting in her and surrounding cities easier as well as giving companies real-time information about commercial building vacancies that give them the information they need to make informed business decisions…among other things. Please check out: http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/page.asp?view=1026 for some of the tools that she and her team have implemented.
E-government and customer service are great, you say, but what are they doing in broadband? Thanks for asking. Both are implementing their own city-wide wi-fi service. Anaheim is using existing fiber that they have for monitoring traffic via video and Bellevue is building out hot-spots all over the city. I asked CIO Cramer what kind of ROI she was looking for in providing wi-fi city-wide, “It’s not about ROI,” she said, “it’s simply about giving our citizens service.” Interesting and commendable concept.