Cybersecurity, smart tech dominate local IT priority lists

For local technology leaders across the U.S., smart technologies and cybersecurity will continue to dominate the priority list.

Alan Shark, executive director and CEO of the Public Technology Institute an advocacy and education organization targeted at local government says these two issues are the highest priority items for technology leaders. But cybersecurity, he says, is the one causing the most anxiety.

I think what keeps people up at night mostly is still security, Shark says. Do we have enough? Are we getting enough support from elected leaders and city and county managers? Do they understand whats at stake and the risk?

Shark says local government leaders especially those not in big cities or counties are also still placing a heavy emphasis on the careful evaluation ofsmart city technologies.

Smart cities, smart counties were trying to understand what that really means, Shark says. How do you operationalize it? No one wants to be part of a dumb city or county. Everybody wants to be smart and yet everything that the word signifies is all about intelligent stuff.

Whether it be sensors or devices, chief information officers are highly focusedon how these technologies integrate into the existing local government IT operations, Shark says, and what it means for the future of the CIO role. In most cases, PTI recommends that technology leaders like the CIO be involved in major decisions at the government level.

Very often, [including the technologist is] an afterthought, Shark says. Bring them in sooner. Let them sit at the table. Let them see how they can support and align goals with that of the city or county.

But the challenges presented by both cybersecurity and smart technology are underlined byan inability oflocal government to budget sufficiently to get the job done. In response, PTI is trying to engage more frequentlywith elected officials and managers to advocate on behalf oftechnology leaders.

The challenges are still cuts in budgets, Shark says. We cant just sit there and work with CIOs only and say Well, youve got to do all these things. Weve got to reach higher levels of policymakers to make them understand what they should expect from their technology departments.