Jun 12 2019

New Atlanta CIO Advisory Board Can Elevate Residents’ Concerns, Experts Say

Senior advisers say the new board will bring light to unknown issues.

Atlanta Information Management recently announced that it would form a new CIO advisory board to work directly with CIO Gary Brantley, playing a “vital role in setting the strategic direction for innovation and technology now and in the future,” Brantley said in a press release

The board is composed of a selection of senior technology officers and other leaders from local businesses, tech organizations and academic institutions. The board scheduled its first meeting last month, and it is expected to reveal more details of its goals and strategy over the coming months

Atlanta joins cities like Seattle and San Jose, Calif., in standing up this sort of advisory board to provide input into the city’s tech governance strategy. The advisory board will provide valuable guidance into Atlanta’s smart city program and its thriving startup hub, among other initiatives, experts say. But the real power of the advisory board will be to highlight the concerns of Atlanta’s residents, which may not always be obvious to AIM staff.

Resident-Focused Initiatives Flourish in Atlanta 

Larry Williams, CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia, praises Brantley’s timely decision to form the board. “Gary is a solid leader and a visionary. He’s had time to find his footing and is now ready to engage the board and find ways to better engage the community,” Williams tells StateTech. TAG is a nonprofit aimed at driving tech innovation and growth in the state, and it shares four board members with the advisory board.

Williams sees a resident-focused approach for the city’s tech governance as being vital to establishing and maintaining Atlanta’s reputation as a leading tech city. 

“The residents of Atlanta are what make this a world-class city. This is a great opportunity to come at it from a customer-centric point of view and really put the interests of the city’s residents first,” Williams says.

Referring to Atlanta’s established smart city initiative, Williams notes “the goal of the CIO’s office is improving the lives of the people who live here.”

“We’ve already seen results with early detection policing, traffic management and emergency services using the Internet of Things. The CIO board needs to take into account the interests of residents and engage local companies and organizations to drive those interests forward, which I believe they will,” Williams says.

The decision to solicit the input of a diverse group of advisers will aid in developing a robust tech strategy for the city going forward, Williams emphasizes. “I can only see it as being a good thing. The board has global thinkers that all come with a real depth of experience,” he says. 

MORE FROM STATETECH: Learn how Atlanta is positioning itself as a municipal tech leader.

Board Must Inform City IT Team of Issues 

A resident-centric approach aligns well with the role that advisory boards of this type should be playing, according to Joseph Pucciarelli, IDC group vice president and CIO Advisory Practice head.

“The board should be focused on providing input into what services would be of value versus how things should be done,” Pucciarelli says.

Pucciarelli notes the CIO’s team is more than capable of solving the issues they are aware of, so the challenge lies in the lack of visibility into some issues.

“The shortcoming of many well-run teams or committees is that they may not fully appreciate the issues outside their four walls. A well-moderated citizen advisory board can provide useful feedback into the technology governance processes regarding requirements and opportunities,” Pucciarelli tells StateTech.

Initial 5G networks have arrived in several U.S. cities, including Atlanta, and smart city initiatives are being implemented across the country. Including the voices of the people and businesses that make up the city’s established tech sector will be essential to both growing private-sector tech investment and addressing the needs of residents through smart city programs and tech governance, Pucciarelli says.

Getty Images/ Sean Pavone

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