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John came to Shreveport in January of 1977 when he was transferred to Barksdale AFB.

He’s been active in Shreveport politics since deciding to make Shreveport his home.

John practiced law for 40 years and he now monitors local politics. He regularly attends Shreveport City Council and Caddo Parish Commission meetings.

John is published weekly in The Inquisitor, bi-monthly in The Forum News, and frequently in the Shreveport Times.

He enjoys addressing civic groups on local government issues and elections.

 

BRIEFING BY SHREVEPORT CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, KEITH HANSON, TO SHREVEPORT CITY COUNCIL ON TUESDAY, MARCH 12

Why do we need a CTO? What am I doing for the city?

Confirmed: January 23rd (49 Calendar Days, 34 Business Days)

  • 34 Business Days, 49 calendar days since confirmation

  • Worked nearly a week of overtime already, largely to the determent of my family

  • Over 100 Meeting Requests

  • Sent email folder totals nearly 900 responses

  • Taken over 70 pages of handwritten notes during meetings and translated them into dozens of tasks that I’ve followed up on

“My job is very different from an IT director, and the City of Shreveport has never had one, so there was an awful lot of work for me to do once I assumed office. Previously, IT was a reactive department, largely supporting service delivery and viewed as a necessary ‘cost’ center only.”

“The CTO position easily pays for itself by being strategic with technology rather than tactical and reactive. And to be clear, I added no additional costs to the IT budget.”

“In the last 34 working days, I have accomplished the following:”

Accomplishments:

  • Reviewed departmental budget top to bottom, and have asked for what I call a quarterly “reconciled” budget report

    • What is budgeted or encumbered, what has been spent, what is expected to be spent, and what money is expected to be “left over” by EOY

    • I will create initiatives to either fund other collaborative city goals with any “left over” budget that streamlines and reduces costs further, or return budget to the General Fund and right size my budgets in the future

  • Helped coordinate and review both the new water billing system upgrades as well as MGO, SPMR, and UMBS rollouts

  • Evaluated current Desk Phone costs with my management team and saved nearly $19,000/mo

    • We will also be reviewing the city smart phone contracts soon in the same way

  • Helped the IT staff understand modern project management tools and techniques, including optimizing our staff meetings, so that we can begin to track progress transparently and efficiently

  • Pressed our team to begin planning the full roll out of VOIP phones as opposed to only phase 1;

    • the sooner we get to full roll out the sooner we save nearly $1M/yr across the city

    • generic deadlines like “18 months” are unacceptable

  • Setup a knowledge transfer wiki to begin ensuring policy and procedure of the IT department is well documented and knowledge is not only in the minds of those who steward them, so that it is never lost again

  • Evaluated all currently deployed applications with staff, and begun setting strategies in place to replace severely outdated ones, to remove licensing costs of outdated hardware and software, and to automate everything possible

  • Sought out “shadow IT” positions throughout the city departments, to more easily hire and consolidate some tech positions and services into the IT department

  • Evaluated and reviewed all current infrastructure and security needs; audits and reports pending

    • Provided contacts, planning and research to roll out end point security that allows us to be safer from hackers

    • Working on initiative to create biometric two-factor authentication for all key personnel, so that passwords alone don’t become “keys to the kingdom”

  • Evaluating all staff positions and re-writing them into modern roles to position our city for a far more responsive department to future needs

    • Many roles are as old as the department and have never been updated

  • Coordinated with IT Staff, CAO, SPD, SFD and Caddo911 for FirstNet internet connections in our squad cars and fire trucks with a rollout completed ideally by end of 2020;

    • current “internet” connectivity provided by slower-than-dial-up radio based modems incompatible with modern RMS software that is required by mid-2020

    • Immediately notified CAO of the savings from phone lines, indicating that ideally, preference would allow the operational budget required for the FirstNet modems in squad cars

    • Currently, SPD has to wait 5-10+ minutes for responses on simple lookups OR tie up a dispatcher to do so;

    • SPD has to deal with paper data that takes a long time to actually enter into the RMS, with no current solution in place to easily eliminate that paper

  • Reviewed multiple vendors with SPD for RMS replacement which is required to be deployed by next year; this will enable our SPD to do far more in the field using mobile devices and squad car laptops

    • After attending the SXSW Mayors’ Summit, I have identified multiple “disruptors” in the space thanks to other CTOs’ insights

  • Reviewed numerous contracts from various departments to ensure proper deployments and notify them of any low cost alternatives

  • Reviewed every departments’ metrics to begin creating a strategy around automated metric collection and transparent display of metrics to administration, council, and the public

    • This is in-line with mayoral directive to begin actually analyzing metrics for process and performance improvements instead of only collecting them

  • Identified, from metrics collection, what processes are manual and what are not

    • This will create a large backlog of workflow analysis and software deployments that will likely take years to implement fully

  • Created the v1 of the online version of the People’s Budget, powered by an open source business intelligence tool called Metabase that will allow the public, council and administration easy insight into the approved budget at any time

    • We have already been contacted by multiple other cities in regards to how we are doing this with $0 of expenditure

  • Worked with CAO to categorize budget into understandable “buckets” so the public and council can quickly see where dollars might be saved

  • Researching how to scan and store thousands of documents into a full-text searchable database, using free open-source technology

  • Reviewed and understand current citizen communication management of the Consent Decree work;

    • Initiative is in place for creating a live map of projects that may affect citizens, pending re-org of my department

    • Looking into tools to notify citizens via SMS and Social Media of these events as well

    • Plans for creating ways to verify contractors’ work before and after via automated means

  • Coordinated an IT resource to overhaul FairShare database and tasked staff to research automated and digital ways to streamline the application process and reduce costs

    • This will also allow all departments to more easily find available Fair Share contractors more frequently

  • Currently coordinating with administration to provide low-cost tools and apps for a “Get Out The Vote” style outreach to increase our Census 2020 count

    • We have some of the lowest response rates compared to other cities our size around the country

    • This affects every single federal grant we could ever possibly receive for the next decade

  • Work with deputy director and IT management to re-organize department into a more responsive entity, with a presentation of those plans ready for HR Board next week

    • Fully anticipate every current staff member finding appropriate role in new department

    • Will be utilizing staff and professional services budget to accomplish goals, all within current budget

    • Will be providing cross-training opportunities to staff who wish to seek more modern roles in the new structure

  • Created the City’s first “Smart City Workforce Analysis” workshop with non-profit partnerships

    • Step Forward and International Youth Foundation will help identify the gaps and begin seeking grants and programs to fill them, in collaboration and coordination with our areas’ K-12 and Higher Ed institutions

    • We anticipate nearly 50 attendees (tonight) from tech businesses all around our region

  • Created an ADA Compliant way for citizens to submit “Speaker Requests” to the council online, as opposed to at the door of the meeting

  • Setup live-streaming of our council meetings to major social media channels, allowing for easier access to our council meetings by those who normally would never tune in

  • Researching and reviewing our website CMS, identifying possible alternatives

  • Researching and reviewing 311 systems that combine in person requests, emails, phone calls, and social media channels for our City to receive complaints or work orders from any of those channels

    • New tools will allow someone to simply @mention our city to notify us and get in touch with support reps, and have a chat conversation online with a citizen

  • Researching and reviewing city-wide CRM software (customer relationship management) that can aid our customer support reps in the future

  • Researching and reviewing public safety technologies and techniques

How my role is different from an IT Director

  • Previous to the CTO position, the IT department focused almost exclusively on internal needs with very little public facing collaborations

  • IT will now have a more direct voice in the administrations’ plans; previously IT largely fended for themselves without input into the vision of the Mayors’ office other than a “break-fix/reactive role”

  • IT will now have a more visible role to the public:

    • This allows citizens to have greater understanding and engagement with our government

    • Allows our public to receive updates and information regularly about our city goals

    • I want to empower our citizens to more easily interact and engage with city services as well as the administration by using design thinking

    • Provide media with a point of contact who understands modern technology practice and can explain complex topics more easily

    • Provide tech businesses with a contact who understands their problems and goals, while also understanding how to connect them to key contacts throughout our city

But once again, literally, I’ve only been here for 34 business days. I’m not even scratching the tip of the iceberg here. So, let’s talk about the future:

The Future (to name but a few strategies)

  • Find, court and bring in tech companies who wish to do small, low-cost pilots in our city and explore expansions of technological services

  • Revive the original citizen-led “Geeks for Government” group to allow a monthly meetup of technologists, budget hawks, and transparency geeks in our area to engage with government in “hackathon” style projects

    • Help educate engaged citizens on how budgeting and cost cutting works and how to do it themselves

    • Allow a monthly meeting for the group to suggest innovative ideas to all of us in the city government for cutting costs and streamlining services

    • This group will be able to do things using combinations of private and public data that the IT department is too overloaded to focus on, but that is important for citizen engagement

  • Create far more transparency across the city using open source, low cost tools

  • Coordinate and collaborate with departments to consolidate positions like GIS technologists into IT department – there are multiple positions like this that will help save money and create more streamlined services

  • Modernize the budget book printing job, a massive workload that my department largely handles, lowering people costs as well as the time needed to create the final version

    • This will allow for far easier edits during the process with far less back and forth between administration, IT, and department heads

  • Roll out software city wide to help track and measure goals throughout the year for far easier reporting on progress to the public and council

  • Create a collaborative atmosphere between the private sector tech companies and our government while defending our citizens’ concerns

  • Build a data warehouse of all of the city’s data and APIs for greater insights into the “big data” that runs our city, and create our first data scientist role to analyze that data and provide reports to administration, council, and the public

  • Collaborate with our public educators to aid in building a strong tech workforce with the citizens already here

  • Increase Fair Share participation in collaboration with the Fair Share office and departments by providing simpler tools to find local contractors

  • Much More

Money Frustrations for Perkins and the Shreveport City Council

EPA Consent Decree Costs Are Mind Blowing