Miami Chief Innovation Officer Michael Sarasti was promoted this week to the newly created position of “citywide director of innovation and information technology,” City Manager Emilio Gonzalez announced.
Sarasti, who has been in South Florida government for 12 years, will continue his work modernizing Miami’s city government while also now tending to day-to-day tech needs. Before joining the city government in 2016 as chief innovation officer, Sarasti spent a decade as a project manager for Miami-Dade County, specializing in web development and data transparency.
As Miami’s innovation officer, Sarasti has undertaken several projects aimed at pushing the city’s government into the present, most visibly a long-overdue update of its main website. Sarasti has described the new site, which is still in beta, as a complete revamp that prioritizes municipal services residents actually seek out regularly, like reporting potholes, reserving parks and recreation spaces and applying for business permits. The goal was to avoid having a clunky, top-down directory.
“We’re going to burn up the current website like a ritual fire,” Sarasti told the New Tropic, a Miami news website, last year.
Sarasti also launched an open-data portal — also still in beta — last month. The site, which is being built “in the open,” features building permits and information about Miami’s budget, with geographic data and service requests being added next.
“The City of Miami deserves talented leadership in these key departments that help us modernize our government and engage our residents,” Gonzalez said in the press release announcing Sarasti’s promotion, which also contained the hiring of a new deputy director of communications.