The City of Long Beach, CA is committed to transparency, trust building, and transportation. These three focus areas emerged from a conversation with a talented team of civil servants on November 13 at California State University. And their approach is working.
For the eighth consecutive year, the City has been named a “Top 10 Digital City” for its efforts to “improve the interactive experience for residents and others doing business with the City; save tax dollars through newfound efficiencies; boost transparency, cybersecurity, and engagement; and innovate through unique and exciting projects”.
Back in April, I wrote an article about the qualities of a “future-focused city.” Long Beach checks all of the boxes.
- They know who they are.
- They know what they need to do.
- There is a person in charge.
- They invite outside expertise.
- They experiment with scale in mind.
- They streamline regulatory and permitting processes.
- They focus on infrastructure.
It turns out that 78 percent of Long Beach residents work and commute outside of the City. John Keisler, Director of Economic and Property Development, spoke about how his department is working across sectors to decrease commute times and increase quality of life.
With the panel promoting a “resident-centric” theme, it’s clear officials in Long Beach all work in lock-step to ensure improved experiences and support for the more than 470,000 individuals residing in this bustling community. Lauren Vargas, Director of Innovation, spoke about how she is encouraged by her boss, Mayor Robert Garcia, to explore how technology can enable better outcomes including closing the digital divide. In addition, the city continues to seek out partnerships that will ensure advanced connectivity and increased access to economic prosperity.
With these efforts in mind, it’s no surprise the City has been designated a “Digital Inclusion Trailblazer” by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.
Lea Eriksen, the City’s CIO and Director of Technology and Innovation, is also at the center of these efforts and has released a three-part plan to expand fiber in the city for municipal, residential, and commercial function. Eriksen confirmed that the city recognizes the need to bolster network traffic to ensure support for the continuing explosion of connected devices and application migrations to the cloud.
Throughout Tuesday’s event, a continuous focal point was Long Beach officials’ ability to work together and anticipate and plan ahead. Heather Tomley, Acting Managing Director of the Planning and Environmental Affairs Bureau for the Port of Long Beach, underscored the importance of aligning on objectives before executing on the technology front and that Port of Long Beach officials remain careful to map out the who, why, and what for challenges they face well in advance. As a result, the Port is an increasingly critical hero not only relative to economic development in the area but also a champion for environmental sustainability.
Some cities shy away from change and the new pressures on government services. In the City of Long Beach, officials are embracing these challenge by engaging with residents to identify new approaches, new partners, and new solutions that will lead to a stronger, more inclusive and dynamic community. Their “we can” attitude is infectious and permeates across the many tools and resources they’ve deployed including the City’s Open Data Portal, telehealth innovation and leveraging of Artificial Intelligence to create Workforce Development tools.
I am excited to see what comes next for Long Beach. As uncertain as the future is, one thing is for sure – the list of accolades will keep on coming.