Peter Ambs, the longtime chief information officer for Albuquerque, New Mexico, moved one state over this month to become an assistant CIO in Phoenix.
“I wanted to grow as a civic tech leader and saw this [job] in Phoenix as an opportunity to do that,” Ambs told StateScoop. “We accomplished a lot in an eight-year run in the city of Albuquerque and put that city in a good place.”
In Phoenix, Ambs reports to Chief Information Officer Matthew Arvay, who started in that role in January 2017. Arvay also recently hired Steen Hambric, the former chief technology officer for the U.S. House of Representatives, as an assistant CIO.
“Over the past 16 months, I’ve heard from a lot of people that have a real desire to modernize how we provide services to the residents,” Arvay said. “With that desire, we have to bring in leadership such as Peter.”
Phoenix plans to replace its legacy telephone and network systems with modern equipment, Arvay said. He added that Phoenix is also planning to adopt a “smart city” agenda. Ambs had experience on similar projects in New Mexico.
During his tenure in Albuquerque, Ambs presided over a technological transformation in the city’s government. He oversaw initiatives digitizing city services and creating mobile apps to connect residents to municipal agencies.
“At the end of the day, I’m a citizen too, and I know how I want to interact with city services,” Ambs said. “[Whether it’s city requests, building permits, or paying a parking ticket,] I want that to be a seamless transaction that I can do in a mobile, responsive way.”
Albuquerque has won praise from the smart city community for deploying internet-connected devices, collecting data with environmental sensors, launching an open data website and installing fiber.
Ambs served as New Mexico’s statewide chief information officer from 2003 to 2005. Before working in government, Ambs worked in the utility and healthcare industries.