With a masters in mathematics and as a former engineer and project manager for a global aerospace company supervising a team of other engineers with a multimillion-dollar budget, the issue of modernizing city operations is one that is dear to my heart.
During my two terms as a City Council Member, I was the chair of the Council Committee on Emerging Technology and led multiple efforts to modernize and digitize city operations. As a result of these efforts, the city’s “check book” along with all public information regarding city contracts, Capital Improvement Projects, and bond information, is now readily available online for public review, as well as all back-up materials the many commissions that advise the council.
More broadly, I led the effort to develop an Open Government Initiative for the City (see Resolution 20111208-74), resulting in (among other things) the robust data portal that is now available. And as a Council Member, I posted my weekly office and descriptions of all sponsored ordinances and resolutions online in an easy-to-read, searchable format, and was the first council member with an open twitter account.
My efforts, in partnership with the community, to bring Google Fiber to Austin earned a First Place for Program Impact Award for BigGig Austin from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. As a result of the discussions we had with Google, 100 public and non-profit facilities will eventually be connected to Google Fiber for 10 years at no cost, including all library branches, the Central Library, and several other city facilities.
I also led the Council effort (with advocacy from Open Austin) to create the City’s Innovation Office, now a critical resource in partnering with the community and improving public services.
I continued my advocacy for modernizing city services after my terms on the Council, in particular for the Aquatics Division, pushing for remote monitoring and control of chemical levels in the pools which would not only save money and time in staff maintenance, but allows for a decrease in hours that pools would be closed due to chemical imbalance. I only learned of this possibility because I was not a council member at the time, and had the opportunity to chat with maintenance staff about their ideas while we were working together on a community project. It was an important lesson, that there needs to be a more robust channel for on-the- ground staff to share their ideas more broadly.
There are a plethora of ways city operations can improve with modernization and digitization. The City has a good start on them but there are miles to go as well as the need to keep up with emerging technologies as they relate to our business.
As mayor I will ensure that appropriate attention and especially resources are dedicated this this effort.
As an example, I will strongly support digitizing our Land Development Code so that all regulations and entitlements for a given property are available at a single click, improving efficiency for reviewers and property owners. I will continue to be alert to other city operations that could benefit from being modernized and digitized.