Digital Cities Survey - 2nd Place
Taking a second-place spot in its population category, the city of Wichita has set a focus on more strategic operations and innovative partnerships to deliver IT services. Faced with the limited resources of a local government, the city has leaned on public-private partnerships and grant funding opportunities to close the budget gaps.
Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity is a substantial focus for the city’s IT shop; strong security protocols, employee education and risk assessments make up Wichita’s defense backbone. In-person training – in collaboration with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – has helped to engage city staff and will become a quarterly occurrence. The agency also completes regular penetration testing of the city’s critical infrastructure. To make 24/7/365 security an affordable option, Wichita has contracted with an as-a-service cybersecurity vendor. This approach has not only saved money but has also prevented significant threats. The IT department is also engaging in tabletop exercises with the fire department to prepare for any disruptions that might occur because of a ransomware attack.
Technology is doing more than just protecting critical city systems — it’s also at play serving the community. The city’s housing and police departments are using tablets to enter real-time information about homeless individuals into the Homeless Management Information System to better connect them with valuable resources. This work earned the police department national recognition. New 5G-capable tablets have also been added to fire apparatus to provide connectivity and better intel on emergency scenes. At City Hall, streamlined access to services has also been made a priority. Digital kiosks are now available to residents for services like paying bills, unemployment benefits, child support, Social Security, legal aid services and more.
Digital Cities Survey - 9th Place
This year, Wichita, Kan., prioritized engagement by introducing two new citizen-facing platforms and improving connectivity for the city's police and fire departments' remote and mobile workforces. Regarding the two new platforms, city staff worked with CitizenLab to create a platform for residents to provide input on different projects. One example is the reimagination of Wichita's Central Library. So far, 17 proposals have been submitted, including transforming the space into an aviation learning center and museum or a design forum and food hall.
As for the second platform, city staff introduced Qwally to offer integrated and scalable support to small businesses. Using the tool, small business owners can learn how to navigate the city's procurement process and apply for the emerging business enterprise certification program in just a few minutes online.
Lastly, officials implemented a two-pronged approach to improving connectivity for some of the city's remote and mobile workforces. The first half focuses on finding no-cost ways to increase existing 5MB circuits at fire stations. The second half focuses on finding low-cost alternatives to increase the throughput on all mobile devices. So far, 10 fire stations have upgraded to 100MB circuits through a partnership with Ideatek, and a contract is in place to upgrade 35 other locations throughout the city in the same way.
Digital Cities Survey - 7th Place
For Wichita, the past year in tech and innovation has involved both cost-saving work and exciting new pilot projects, with some overlap between them. In the first group, the central IT shop has done a number of things, including outfitting city vehicles with GPS, which has enabled the city to use data to enhance efficiency. This, Wichita estimates, saved $120,000 last year and will continue to do so annually. IT staff in Wichita also began upgrading existing computers rather than purchasing replacements, which officials estimate saved more than $140,000. It may not be flashy, but this work is at the heart of gov tech for cities.
Wichita also has a list of pilot programs and completed work, including public kiosks that enable easier interactions with the city, gunshot detection tech, law enforcement analytics, online payment consolidation, and more. The city brought more of its services online, including an emergency rental assistance form. Collaboration, meanwhile, played a vital role in Wichita, both with government partners as well as the private sector. One example is a fiber-sharing agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation, which netted Wichita faster Internet. Another example is working with T-Mobile on a partnership around Wi-Fi hot spots to boost digital equity. There is also a growing relationship between the city and the startup community. Wichita has worked to find tech startups that can help with civic challenges. This, so far, has included work on a citizen engagement platform with Citizen Lab, and a project with Qwall to aid women and minority-owned small businesses during the pandemic.
Digital Cities Survey - 7th Place
Located in south-central Kansas, the city of Wichita takes seventh place in its population category. Populated by an estimated 390,000 residents, the city prioritizes citizen engagement, cybersecurity, and data management. Wichita's efforts to provide transparency and engagement opportunities for its citizens should be noted. The city's ICT Data Portal is the community's platform that allows the public to download open data. The portal aims to help build "a smarter Wichita," also allowing citizens to discover and build apps as a way to engage with local issues. The city's user-friendly AccessWichita is another noteworthy accomplishment that allows the public to view important information quickly, including urgent COVID-19 updates.
Over the last year, the city grappled with an uptick in copper theft from city-owned facilities and public parks. In response, Wichita partnered with local IT company Viaanix to deploy Internet of Things sensors to prevent copper theft and potentially save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The city also continues to grow in the area of cybersecurity. The IT Department's five-year strategic plan and efforts to train all staff on the importance of digital security show the city's commitment to safeguarding systems from future cyber threats.
Digital Cities Survey - 4th Place
The Center for Digital Government (CDG) has named the City of Wichita a 2019 Digital Cities Survey winner. The survey recognizes cities using technology to tackle social challenges, enhance services, strengthen cybersecurity, and more. The survey honors cities in five population classifications: 500,000 or more, 250,000 to 499,999; 125,000 to 249,999; 75,000 to 124,999, and fewer than 75,000. Wichita placed 4th in the 250,000 to 499,999 category.
The City of Wichita was recognized for innovative work in the following areas among others:
- Gun Shot Detection program
- Copper theft prevention
- Public-private partnerships for future smart city implementations including a partnership with Evergy
- Hot spots to provide connectivity to residents through neighborhood resource centers
- Partnerships with Friends University on cyber-security
- Wichita State University partnership on data and analytics
- T-Mobile partnership on fleet monitoring
- Kansas Department of Transportation partnership on fiber sharing
Here is a list of winners below in the 250,000 to 499,999 category:
- City of Miami, FL
- City of Durham, NC
- City of Virginia Beach, VA
- City of Wichita, KS
- City of Kansas City, MO, and City of Plano, TX (tie)
- City of Madison, WI
- City of Long Beach, CA
- City of Henderson, NV
- City of Chandler, AZ
- City of Greensboro, NC and City of Riverside, CA (tie)
Route 50 Navigator Award - Tech Innovator
Route 50 Navigator Awards Finalist (Top 10)
The fourth annual Navigator Awards honors 50 individuals and teams either working in or with state, county, and municipal governments in the United States who demonstrated their ability to implement a great idea that improves public sector services and the communities they serve.
The City of Wichita's IT Department was nominated for the Tech Innovator award for its work with LoRaWAN Technology, our Copper Theft Detection System, and Gunshot Detection System.
Wichita Business Journal Innovation Awards
The City of Wichita received three awards for City Manager Robert Layton, WILL, and the Information Technology Department.
Digital Cities Survey - 9th Place
Data is at the center of just about everything happening in Wichita. Projects are prioritized based on the value they provide to local residents and daily operations. For example, rather than rolling out gunshot detection systems across the entire city - a costly endeavor - city staff look to GIS heatmaps to determine where they are likely needed the most. An advisory council helps city leaders and IT staff take a "realistic view" of local needs and feasible solutions. The city is also focused on improving performance while saving taxpayer dollars through zero-based budgeting and reassessment of existing resources. Recently, an inventory gave staff new insights into programs and allowed for a reappraisal of what was needed and what was not.
When it comes to keeping city operations transparent, Wichita is no stranger to sharing information. Code for America, local media, and Wichita State University are all part of a data steering committee that helps staff to publish high-value data sets. To date, 70 of the most common records requests have been published to save staff time and provide ease of access. In September 2018, the city embarked on a mission to replace its CRM to better allow for data mining.
Like in many other cities across the United States, the need for access to the Internet has prompted aggressive action. This year alone, efforts to expand the broadband network resulted in a 171% growth rate. Over the course of the next two years, officials anticipate connectivity will jump by 762%.
IT officials are also excited about the potential for an AI chatbot they feel will improve the interface between the city - specifically the website - and residents. There is also potential for augmented reality to help utility staff locate underground power and water infrastructure. In a similar vein, the city and Wichita State University are working on a project to improve wayfinding for the visually impaired.
Digital Cities Survey - 4th Place
Fourth-place finisher Wichita put two Wichita State University students to work developing its citizen reporting app, Wichita Report, a 311-style tool that's snagged 900 downloads without any promotion. The city displayed similar resourcefulness in partnering with the local Code for America brigade to come up with a strategic open data program that releases data assets of particular value to local developers and students most likely to turn them into useful apps. A new snowplow tracking site helps residents navigate snowy winters by tracking and mapping the paths of snow-clearing vehicles, while other improvements include a streamlined e-citation system for law enforcement and high-speed fiber that runs through the city's storm sewer system. The connectivity boost will help Wichita effectively transmit police bodycam video to its cloud provider which will store the footage from the 600 cameras expected to be in use by the end of 2015.