#BmoreTech Meet City CIO For The First Time - Technical.ly Baltimore

Civic

Sep. 28, 2011 11:42 am

#BmoreTech Meet City CIO For The First Time

Baltimore CIO Rico Singleton addressed BmoreSmart and the Baltimore Tech community at an open forum last night about state of the city's IT infrastructure and unveiled initiatives that are in place to make Baltimore a top-tier digital city.

It’s very rare that a concerned group of citizens goes down to city hall for a town forum and can walk away with almost unanimous appreciation and faith that our officials are moving in the right direction. Last night was one of those rare occasions.

Baltimore City CIO, Rico Singleton, was asked to address the tech community on the state of the city’s IT infrastructure, pending challenges, and strategic initiatives that are in place to move Baltimore to becoming a top-tier digital city. Kate Bladow of BmoreSmart setup the meeting after seeing a bunch of outward disconnect from the local community (myself included) and the city’s IT department. Up until recently there has been little engagement from the city’s public-facing IT initiatives (OpenBaltimore, 311, a potential Apps contest) and a lot of us were making requests that seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Picture by Mark Headd (@mheadd) Mr. Singleton addressed the crowd of about 30 or so techies with a well-prepared presentation that not only talked about Baltimore’s IT but also gave us an understanding of who he is as a person. Mr. Singleton was hired for the CIO role back in December 2010 after serving 3 years as Deputy CIO / CTO of New York State. At the time he entered Baltimore, he was the only member of the Mayor’s cabinet that was bringing an iPad to meetings which has since spurred others to follow suit. I think that anecdote helps illustrate the effect he’s already starting to have in reshaping City Hall’s acceptance and appreciation of technology.

Advertisement

Below are a few of the key nuggets that I extracted from last night’s discussion.

Office of the CIO

Upon examination, it seems the organization is incomplete. Underneath the Deputy CIO, there are 3 top-level management positions that have been vacant for over 8 months (they’re hiring). Another interesting note is that the city’s IT is completely decentralized. For a while, employees have been reimbursed for buying their own computers with their own suite of software. None of the existing departments are synced together and manual data imports are how transactions are taking place.

Strategic Priorities

Before adding a bunch of the programs we have asked the city to consider, Mr. Singleton has expressed the need to “stabilize our house before we can add on”. There are no IT policies or standards in place right now so those have to be developed as well as an enterprise architecture that can handle the scaling of further development. For those that are lost: consider walking into a restaurant’s kitchen for the first time to make food for that night’s meal only to see that none of the ingredients have expiration dates (yikes!) and you have no recipe book. Oh, and your kitchen is flooded.

Challenges

One of the most eye-opening facts that I learned last night was that our city’s IT budget is unnaturally low. Baltimore’s total budget is $2 Billion. The average IT budget for all US cities is 2% – 4% of the total budget. Baltimore’s IT budget is $20 Million (including payroll). That means IT is less than 1% of our total budget. Regardless of the state of our economy, we need to increase our IT budget to a reasonable level.

Strategic Initiatives

It’s refreshing to hear Mr. Singleton’s thoughts on where the city needs to be. He’s a fan of open-goverment, cloud services, civic engagement, and strategic sourcing to name a few. Up until now, the city has been building their own applications to reactively solve their needs. Mr. Singleton is going to scrap that approach and use off-the-shelf software that is feature rich, cost-effective, and quicker to implement. In a couple weeks the city will be announcing a transition over to cloud services which is smart.

A lot of trust and transparency were established last night and I’d love to see these public meetings with Mr. Singleton and his office happen on a regular (quarterly?) basis. A handful of the initiatives that were discussed are already being supported and discussed within our community and it makes sense to leverage our community’s talent and passion to get some of these accomplished, especially when the city seems to be short-staffed and broke.

I applaud Mr. Singleton for not only accepting the request to meet last night but also for giving an exceptional presentation that puts hope in a lot of us geeks that the city is becoming a better place to live and work.

Below is the complete presentation from Mr. Singleton.

Projects: bmoretech
-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here

Advertisement

Learn about the open source efforts of Code.gov at this event

Mayor Catherine Pugh wants to expand the CitiStat program

Baltimore police retrieve previously unretrievable surveillance plane emails

SPONSORED

Baltimore

How SmartLogic accelerated these startups’ product growth trajectories

Baltimore, MD 21201

14 West

Junior Database Administrator

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Orthly

Full-Stack Javascript Engineer

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD 21201

14 West

Chief of Staff

Apply Now

Help a policymaker out: Baltimore Data Day is almost here

As SpotCrime grows, fight for police data transparency remains

New Johns Hopkins center to help cities tap power of data

SPONSORED

Baltimore

This fast-growing SaaS company aims to be a force for change in the energy industry

Baltimore, MD

SmartLogic

Product Designer

Apply Now
Baltimore

Technically Media

Technical.ly Baltimore Contributing Reporter (Contract or Freelance)

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD

SmartLogic

Developer

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Baltimore

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!