All across the United States, pockets of tech innovation are changing the way we interact with state and local governments. Whether it’s mayors pushing for better tech policy or civic hackers putting open data in the hands of the public, it’s an exciting time for local government tech.
The challenge, of course, is that the information is scattered all over the web. CIOs looking for reliable news and budding engineers seeking inspiration for new projects have hung out in different corners in the Internet. Until now, of course.
This fourth edition of the annual StateTech Must-Read IT Blogs spans further than any before it. You’ll find everything from government-run IT sites to Tumblr blogs to mapping resources, and everything in between. But there’s a common thread: All of these blogs share information that’s invaluable to today’s tech decision-makers.
We hope you enjoy it. If you believe we’ve missed a resource, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. And if your blog has been chosen, grab a badge to display to your readers — you earned it!
No one does it quite like Code for America. Its programs have sparked renewed interest in civic technology, prompting some of the country’s best engineers and thought leaders to volunteer their skills for the public good. The blog details the results of the organization’s impressive work and shares inspiration and ideas from its events.
Follow: @codeforamerica | Must-read post: Open Data: The First Step Towards Better Community-Police Relationships
This member-supported network of technologists share knowledge and research to empower local government workers. The blog dips its toes into everything from infrastructure to public transportation. It’s one of this organizations’ many vehicles to educate tomorrow’s government leaders.
Follow: @CEOsforCities | Must-read post: Rebirth of a City Through the Millennial Perspective
Sites like this drive the collaborative spirit of Chicago’s civic tech community. Tech leaders like Derek Eder and Steven Vance keep this blog full of news on local events and issues. There’s plenty of carryover — any city looking to follow in the footsteps of Chicago can learn a lot by reading this first-class blog.
Bill Schrier is the chief information officer for the Seattle Police Department and previously served as the city’s chief technology officer. He’s a longtime StateTech favorite, thanks to his deep experience in public IT and his active presence on social media. He executes in the office, then shares his knowledge on his blog and on Twitter. Stay tuned to this blog for a refreshing take on public safety.
When he isn’t working at his day job at CartoDB, Chris Whong is putting data to good use in New York City. A self-proclaimed “data-junkie,” Chris has been able to turn raw data points into beautiful maps that help New Yorkers navigate public transit and taxis. He’s a leader in the civic tech space and an inspiration to those looking to use their technical chops for the public good.
Follow: @chris_whong | Must-read post: Anatomy of a Civic Hack: Freeing Baltimore’s Real-time Bus Data
Security, data centers, mobility — the Cisco Government Blog covers all of the most challenging (and exciting) IT topics. The authors are experienced technologists themselves, and their hands-on accounts of strategy and implementation make this site unique. Cisco is one of the most trusted names in government tech, and this blog lives up to the billing.
Follow: @CiscoGovt | Must-read post: Alabama Dept. of Transportation Reduces Travel Expenses with Video Solution
This branch of Governing — a wide-ranging state and local publication — showcases innovation in local technology initiatives. The organization partnered with 13 cities to report on and even participate in their IT projects. It’s an interesting mix of journalism and hands-on tech, with a uniquely uplifting twist.
CityLab, an Atlantic Media publication, draws from all corners of the urban world but often finds its way into tech. Head to the CityFixer page for easy navigation to articles on law enforcement, energy, infrastructure and mass transit.
Follow: @CityLab | Must-read post: Drones Do the Dirty Work in a 'Self-Repairing City'
This blog is the brainchild of Mark Headd, Philadelphia’s first-ever chief data officer. Previously, he worked for Code for America and Delaware’s Department of Technology and Information. He earned his stripes in the trenches of public tech, and this blog is representative of his many years of experience. Be sure to also check out his Hacks & Tutorials to learn how to implement a few of his many ideas.
CivSource has been the source for civic leaders since 2009. Editor Bailey McCann is a true professional (who also publishes a weekly tech newsletter). She digs into tough topics, such as cloud computing, broadband, BYOD, shared solutions and procurement. It’s not all roses in government IT, but McCann keeps CivSource fresh and exciting.
You don’t hear much about technology in the courtroom, but it’s changing the way our justice system operates. The Court Technology Bulletin has been active since 2004, covering all of the ways courts can (and are) benefitting from new IT solutions.
If there were a StateTech Must-Read IT Blogs hall of fame, Data-Smart City Solutions would be voted in on the first ballot. This blog from Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation covers all things data. It’s relentlessly innovative and always interesting.
Tom Schenk doesn’t have time to post often on his blog. That’s because he’s Chicago’s chief data officer. But when he writes, pay attention. He’s opinionated, and rightly so, considering his many years of experience in public service and higher education. If nothing else, this blog is a peek into the life of one of America’s most influential tech leaders.
This Tumblr blog is maintained by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He curates local data stories, shares quotes and photos, and offers his thoughts on using data to improve life for the citizens of Los Angeles. If you like this style, be sure to check out New York City’s and Chicago’s Tumblr blogs as well.
How many urban scientists blog about their training and projects? Not many, which is just one of the reasons that Richard Dunks’ site is so valuable. He’s a civic techie devoted to open data and analytics. It’s just this kind of creative thinking (and implementation) that gets people excited about government innovation.
As part of Code for America’s research team, Schrimmer is tasked with sharing resources that help civic leaders implement tech solutions. This carries over to her blog, where she writes about city planning, transportation and public–private partnerships.
Why can’t every city have a tech hub this good? This public–private partnership between the city and more than 15 sponsors and content providers keeps tech real in the Big Apple. The execution is as interesting as the content. You’ll find curated articles on everything from tech jobs to local courses to meetups to news.
Follow: @digitalnyc | Must-read post: On Demand Services and (Mis)Understanding Vertical Integration
Public libraries unlock access to technology for millions of people in America. For that reason, it’s crucial that we get it right. The Digital Shift tells the story of the evolving library, from static bookshelf to vibrant technology community. In addition to news and curated posts, you’ll find commentary from some of the brightest minds in information technology.
Follow: @ShiftTheDigital | Must-read post: IPFS: The Most Interesting Internet Technology You’ve Never Heard Of
This blog is living proof that a strategic approach to IT can have an immediate and significant effect on citizens. Durham County is pushing open data and cybersecurity, among other important tech initiatives. Show this newly launched blog some love — it should be proud of all the work it’s accomplished. Hopefully, it will inspire more municipalities to join the blogging community.
EMS1 is to paramedics what Officer.com is to cops. This site is full-featured, with a healthy dose of technology. Its opinion columns are particularly thought-provoking, and you’ll enjoy a deep dive into the video library. If you prefer audio, check out the weekly podcast series.
Follow: @ems1 | Must-read post: Austin ambulances equipped with green energy electrical systems
This site gets to the why of government IT. Without a clear purpose — like citizen–government collaboration and stronger communities — tech policy and implementation is all for naught. EngagingCities ties IT news back to the citizens it’s designed to serve.
Follow: @EngagingCities | Must-read post: The Quiet Power of Changing the Way Cities Buy Stuff
Motorola is another key local government partner that shares its experience on a blog. Written primarily for IT workers, this blog doesn’t shy away from hardcore tech topics, such as radio frequencies and battery-life innovation. In addition to case studies, the writers also riff on the future of body cameras, live video and texting for the public good.
The Government Computer Network is a breath of fresh air for IT professionals in search of practical, actionable resources. The blog’s local tech coverage wastes no time getting to the meat of the issues (and solutions) facing every municipal government. You’ll find articles on everything from the Internet of Things to cybersecurity to predictive analytics.
Better known as GovTech, this is a staple for any state and local technology leader. It’s more than a blog — GovTech is tech coverage at its best. It keeps things exciting with stories on Bitcoin and drones, without neglecting core topics such as Big Data and cybersecurity. Check out the daily and weekly newsletters for curated news.
Follow: @govtechnews | Must-read post: Changing IoT Environment Means New Ways of Doing Business
True to its name, GovFresh provides an original take on IT. Founder and writer Luke Fretwell draws from his extensive experience as a civic technologist and consultant to offer his perspective on the changing tides of government. His always-interesting posts get right to the point and always leave you wanting just a little bit more.
Brought to you by New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, GovLab is an organization trying to eliminate the barriers between government and better ways to use existing technology. As it finds solutions, information is shared on the blog as well as online courses. Be sure to check out the GovLab Index, which is full of data related to open governance.
Follow: @thegovlab | Must-read post: Exploring the Role of Data in “The Coming Age of the Internet of Things”
A prolific writer, Asheville, N.C., CIO Jonathan Feldman maintains this blog along with his column on InformationWeek. His voice is welcome in the civic tech space. Years of experience and desire to share his knowledge make this blog a useful addition to your reading list.
Like most other industries, public transit relies more and more on tech to get passengers from Point A to Point B. And while you’ll find all things public transportation here, you’ll notice a heavy dose of tech — everything from mobile apps and wireless buses to public safety and map technology. It’s a fun read, with plenty of innovative news to boot.
Follow: @MassTransitmag | Must-read post: SOLiD Enables Wireless Connectivity in New York City Subway
Microsoft and the city of Chicago — both are pushing the boundaries of civic innovation, and both are featured on this list several times. But this blog covers the intersection of Microsoft’s powerful government IT solutions and Chicago’s willingness to experiment with new and better tech. It’s always a feel-good read, because there’s just so much exciting work happening here. When public–private partnerships thrive, this is the result.
Follow: @msftchicago | Must-read post: STEM Degrees on the Upswing in Illinois: Innovation Index Talent Report
Microsoft is a leading partner with government. The company’s employees-turned-bloggers have decades of experience working with local governments on important IT projects, and their posts reflect their keen understanding of government’s unique challenges. You can look forward to one or two new posts every week, or you can sift through five years worth of articles on cloud computing, cybersecurity, mobility and much more.
Follow: @microsoft_gov | Must-read post: The Right Data in the Right Hands: Information Management Reduces Crime
This is another winner from the Microsoft blog network. Written by the folks behind some very innovative public safety tech solutions, this blog examines how to fight crime in the 21st century. From cyberattack defense to cloud adoption in law enforcement, you’ll find a rich archive of practical, interesting resources here.
Follow: @microsoft_gov | Must-read post: Innovative Technology to Transform Public Safety & Justice
State and local CIOs looking for trustworthy news and insight, you’re covered with NASCIO. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) is one of local governments’ most respected resources. The blog is a stream of useful, thought-provoking insight from folks like Executive Director Doug Robinson.
Follow: @NASCIO | Must-read post: 2016 State CIO Top 10 Priorities: What are state IT leaders forecasting?
Tech is woven into the fabric of county government, along with policy, education, infrastructure and more. NACO has an eye for tech’s unique benefits and challenges. The blog digs deep into issues such as cybersecurity, law enforcement and information sharing.
Follow: @NACoTweets | Must-read post: Data costs from body cameras worries some counties
In his first week on the job, Nebraska CIO Ed Toner wrote that his goal was “to inspire and build loyalty throughout the agency.” He’s done a great job of that on this blog, where he occasionally offers his thoughts on leadership, innovation and collaboration.
Words can move mountains, but Next City is using them to inspire action at the smallest levels of government. You’ll find pointed articles on the intersection of tech, culture and government. Cities stand to gain a lot from increased use of and access to technology — Next City is using journalism to spread the word.
One of the premier digital publications for police officers, Officer.com invests a lot in tech coverage. The site is heavy on product reviews — everything from cars to cameras — which is great for law enforcement leaders looking to make decisions regarding their staff’s equipment.
The 21st-century government is changing fast, and OpenGov is on the cutting edge. Financial data is an area ripe for change in state and local governments. If you’re interested in tech to support budgeting, analytics and reporting, OpenGov has you covered.
Follow: @OpenGovInc | Must-read post: Ohio’s Local Governments Open Checkbooks to Citizens
“The intersection of open source and government” is an exciting one — reduced costs and increased access to data will mean better services and less spending. This blog is an excellent resource for open source tech news from the government community and beyond. The blog covers public projects outside the United States as well, making Opensource.com’s archives an even more interesting repository of information and inspiration.
Unlike most of the blogs here, this one is written and maintained by a local government office. Philadelphia’s Managing Director’s Office uses this space to report on its own initiatives. Access to the inner workings of an innovative public office can’t be taken for granted. This blog is a must-read for the strategy as much as the information.
Follow: @PHLInnovation | Must-read post: Putting Data into Practice for Sustainability Initiatives
Rachel Haot is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting and interesting people in state and local government. She’s New York’s chief digital officer (CDO) as well as New York City’s last CDO and a startup founder. Her boundless appetite for better tech solutions extends to this blog where she gives a behind-the-scenes look at her work in the Big Apple.
Follow: @rachelhaot | Must-read post: How we did it: Record growth a year into the new NY.gov
Route Fifty replaces GovExec’s State & Local channel with a bigger and better home for local government tech news. The site features a handful of new stories every day, ranging from cloud strategy to green tech. Its modern look and sharp reporting make it a must-read for every civic techie.
If you’ve noticed that StateTech covers Chicago often, it’s not because we’re biased. Chicago is implementing (and sharing) some of the most interesting and useful tech solutions in local government these days. The Smart Chicago Collaborative is at the heart of the city’s tech innovation, contributing to projects like Foodborne Chicago and the Chicago Early Learning Portal.
Each year, IBM sends some of its sharpest technologists to a handful of cities to make recommendations for smarter and more efficient technology. Since 2012, the company has sent tech experts to more than 40 cities, from Knoxville, Tenn., to Trujillo, Peru. The closer writers are to the challenges, the more interesting the articles. And since IBMers are working side by side with public servants, this blog is endlessly fascinating.
IBM’s Smarter Cities Tumblr is an example of curation at its finest. The blog isn’t as active as it once was, but the blog will point you to most of the best local tech coverage from all around the web. It’s been a longtime favorite here at StateTech, and we’re sure you’ll appreciate this lively, social hub for civic and local tech news.
Follow: @IBMSmartCities | Must-read post: 8 Cities That Show You What the Future Will Look Like
States face a unique set of challenges when it comes to policy, governance and, of course, technology. Stateline, an arm of Pew Charitable Trusts, “provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.” As you might expect, this blog takes a no-nonsense approach to sharing hard-hitting news and analysis. For state tech leaders, it’s a priceless resource and daily must-read.
Follow: @PewStates | Must-read post: Taxing the Cloud: States Are Looking at How to Do It
Few sites cover state and local technology with the same zeal as StateScoop. Day in and day out, you’ll find news and insight on today’s most pressing public IT issues — cloud, mobility, security, Big Data — it’s all there. Combined with a video library and an excellent daily newsletter, StateScoop is an invaluable resource for all government tech workers.
Follow: @State_Scoop | Must-read post: Kentucky wraps up IT consolidation, saves $12M per year
Crawford is the author of The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance and a regular on the Medium publication The Backchannel. Her posts explore the future of cities, touching on everything from better bus stops to net neutrality. Did I mention she’s also a Harvard law professor? This blog is well-rounded and always on point.
Follow: @scrawford | Must-read post: These Two LA Bus Stops Might Change the Future of Cities
Few state IT departments maintain an active blog, which makes this one from California an especially interesting read. The blog uses updates and announcements to share the department’s work and inspire fellow government tech leaders. CalCloud, the state’s shared service model, is a central topic and template for other states.
Follow: @CADeptTech | Must-read post: OTech Data Center Achieves LEED-EB Gold Certification
Maintained primarily by analyst Jim Valley, this is another among the rare breed of government-run tech blogs. When you think of tech, hardware and software come to mind. But as all government workers know, policy makes the world go ’round. This blog explores it all, including the legislation that powers great tech solutions.
Follow: @SeattleCTO | Must-read post: Seattle Is Rolling Out Its Innovative Privacy Program
Technical.ly is a tech-news network with local presences in Baltimore, Brooklyn, Delaware, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Each hub covers civic tech, startups and local tech events. With feet on the ground in each area, Technical.ly delivers news and insight you won’t find anywhere else.
Follow: @technical_ly | Must-read post: 9 public-sector Chief Data Officers to keep an eye on