In the early days of his career as a city IT staffer, back when the Office of Innovation and Technology was called the Mayor’s Office of Information Services, Clinton Johnson listened to his colleagues champion the idea of automating water shutoffs when the Health Department confirmed the death of a person on a water account.
Johnson, a Streets Department engineering aide turned GIS programmer, didn’t agree. What if there were other people that lived in that house? How long would it take for their water to get turned back on? How hard would it be for them to alert the city about the mistake? When no one else spoke up, he did, managing to convince them that the idea was flawed.
That’s the type of work Johnson, now 41, is proudest of at the city. He left in January for mapping software company Esri, after nearly two decades working in city IT.
“I had always felt it was a part of my duty as a civil servant to help keep the focus on the customer, the everyday Philadelphian,” Johnson wrote to us. It’s about “making the best use of technology,” he said, but also about having empathy for residents. (Echoing city Civic Tech Director Aaron Ogle’s comment that in government, “The user is our neighbor.”)
Johnson is now a solutions architect at Esri’s Chesterbrook office, where he expects to focus more on enterprise customers. He was deciding between taking an IT director position at the city or joining Esri but decided it was time for a new challenge.
He left on the same day as outgoing CIO Adel Ebeid but said it was a coincidence and that he didn’t know Ebeid would be leaving the city.
We’ve seen Esri and the City of Philadelphia trade talent: Tom Swanson left Esri in 2014 to help lead the city’s GIS team, and former city GIS specialist Patrick Hammons joined Esri’s Chesterbrook office last month after a stint in Pittsburgh on his Code for America fellowship.
People: Clinton Johnson
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