Las Vegas is one of America’s most well-known cities with close to 43 million people visiting annually and a population of more than 613,000. Over the last few years, it has made great strides in utilizing technology to enhance services for its citizens, customers and millions of visitors.
Michael Sherwood leads the mega-sized resort city’s IT Department with an eye always on the future and a hand on daily data needs.
From your perspective, what is the IT Department’s role in government and how do you feel it has evolved over the years?
Sherwood: Our role revolves around helping internal departments deliver their specific services more efficiently and effectively. This includes access to information and tools which help them in making well defined decisions. The role of technology has been evolving and will continue to evolve.
Several years ago, technology centered around supporting hardware and systems. Today systems and technology are easier to use, so technology workers now need to be knowledge workers and futurists, in order to provide value to their organizations and the community.
As a technology leader working within the public sector what specific technologies interest you?
Sherwood: Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, Internet of Things and cloud-based technologies.
Is there a specific technology initiative that your department was involved in that you are most proud of?
Sherwood: We are proud of many of the technology initiatives we are currently undertaking, of most importance is our innovation district which is changing the way the city handles traffic and decision making through the use of technology and the use of real time data collection with sensors.
We have also started development of new services, such as our open data portal, geo commons (open mapping portal) and our use of new technologies such as the skills the city built on the Amazon Echo platform.
When attempting to adopt or implement new technologies in your government, what specific challenges has your department faced?
Sherwood: Funding is always a challenge, one must develop business use cases to ensure success and to ensure goals and objectives are met. The ability to adapt and change quickly and look for other solutions is always a good practice.
Gaining buy-in from major stakeholders to invest in technology is also difficult when funding and resources are limited.
Have you established any best practices for when your government adopts or implements new technologies that you can share with us?
Sherwood: Do not be afraid to fail. Many organizations never undertake a project for fear of failure.
Undertake a small pilot project rather than going with a larger broader implementation. This limits exposure and allows you to learn and make modifications throughout the process. Once you have a successful framework, you can then replicate the process without fear and with assurance of success and cost.
Any final thoughts on technology’s purpose when it comes to a government’s citizens and employees?
Sherwood: The future is wide open, citizen engagement, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will really change the way government interfaces with citizens and visitors in ways we are only beginning to understand.
The ability to customize and develop unique user experiences will improve efficiency and create new interactions that will drastically change an individual’s satisfaction within the communities they reside in. Cities who do not embrace these technologies and methodologies will be left behind.
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