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Palo Alto CIO: what every city now needs

Peter Stojanovic

Improved safety, better communications and more efficient transportation, how the city CIO is already modernizing the urban space, according to Jonathan Reichental.

Jonathan Reichental’s vision is to build and enable a leading smart and digital city in Palo Alto.

As the city CIO, he’s in a very good position to make that happen.

As are all CIOs in their respective cities; the future urban community uses information and communication technologies to improve, quality, performance and interactivity of its services and resources, and that vision from a CIO needs nurturing now if it is to come to fruition.

It’s not unlike an organization, in that way, according to Reichental.

“When you think about an organization pursuing a project to support its operations, or to help create a new product or service for the marketplace, less and less do I see projects without a tech component, and that same trend is happening in government.”

In the US, Boston, Chicago, L.A. and New York, as well as others, have their respective CIO positions – for obvious reasons: they’re all large, well-established and with the financial opportunities to modernize livelihoods.

That can come in the form of “…providing public safety folks better tools to solve crimes and pursue criminals, or create a more efficient financial organization.”

Similarly, cities face many challenges that technology, and a city CIO, needs to respond to, namely: transportation; energy; health; and public safety.

This isn’t an unusual progression for urban management.

IT managers have long been part of a city context, but for Reichental, what is unusual is how a senior executive role has been introduced to “take a strategic view to see how technology can be used to tackle the big problems on a city landscape.”

Palo Alto, being relatively small for a city is unique to have its own CIO.

This will be the norm for the future though, Reichental suggests, citing that although “…it isn’t a surprise for the federal government to have its own CIO…for smaller cities, the trend of a city CIO is just beginning.”

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