In late August, a group of city and council chief information officers from throughout Texas came together to meet with the vendor community to discuss their priorities and challenges as a region.
The idea behind it, said Austin CIO Stephen Elkins, the group’s founder, was to give the CIOs a louder voice when dealing with the vendor community to get economies of scale, but also to acquire more specialized technologies unique to the region.
“A lot of us use the same vendors, so as a region we wanted to sit down and give them a clear view of what we wanted their products to be able to do,” said Elkins, who has served as Austin’s CIO since 2010.
The group consisted of CIOs from Corpus Christi to Ft. Worth and everywhere in-between. One of the main areas of focus was vehicle technology, as the municipalities want to put more devices into public safety and public works vehicles that can transmit data to each other and to decision-makers.
Elkins said the group is also nearing a pilot program in the near future where the municipalities will begin comparing open data sets and finding ways to mesh them together. They are also looking for opportunities to increase communication around cybersecurity, figuring out county and city responsibilities to each other, and how those fit into the state mandates.
“We want to carry a louder voice in what we do,” Elkins said, “as well as give the vendor community a clear way of how to best engage with us to bring innovative solutions that we can all share in.”
As for his day job, Elkins is working on a number of notable projects:
- The city is currently doing gap analysis on its human resources systems with the plan of putting out a request for proposal for a new system before the end of the calendar year. The hope is to have a new system operational Oct. 1,2015, the beginning of the city’s fiscal year. “We want to get the RFP out in plenty of time to get as many quality companies in on the bidding process as possible.”
- Austin wants to expand its use of business intelligence analytics, increasing its use in some of the city’s departments that are slightly behind in that area. As part of business intelligence, the city is looking to use an enterprise wide ETL (extract, transform, load) system.
- Elkins said the city is looking to get approval on an enterprise service bus that will streamline the way the city’s applications communicate.
- Amanda, the city’s case management application, is getting a major upgrade from the provider, so the city will be following along to make sure the system is up to date.
- Austin also wants to expand its storage for the city’s police department. The city digitally records video in police cars and wants to expand its storage as it underestimated the capacity needed.