SUGAR LAND (Covering Fort Bend News) – The Center for Digital Government has named Sugar Land among the nation’s top five cities that successfully use technology to improve resident services, enhance transparency and encourage resident engagement.
Sugar Land has been among the top 10 cities in the country for the last five years.
Cities receiving the national accolade were recognized for successfully using technology to tackle social challenges, enhance cybersecurity, improve transparency and much more. Words used to describe Sugar Land included “open, citizen-centric, collaborative, secure, staffed/supported, connected, efficient, resilient, innovative, with use of best practices.”
Sugar Land competed against cities ranging in populations from 75,000-124,999 in CDG’s 2018 Digital Cities Survey. Rounding out the list were places like Westminster, Colo.; Lynchburg, Va.; Pueblo, Colo.; Avondale, Ariz.; Independence, Mo.; Bloomington, Ind.; and others. The complete list is posted at www.govtech.com/dc/digital-cities/Digital-Cities-Survey-2018–Winners-Announced.html.
“This year’s leading digital cities are leveraging technology to connect citizens with critical information and services, promote citizen inclusion in important government processes and share government data with the public,” said Teri Takai, executive director of the Center for Digital Government. “Thanks to the efforts of (cities like Sugar Land), citizens can now meaningfully interact with city government more easily than in any other time in history.”
Sugar Land was credited for innovative efforts to engage the public utilizing numerous social media platforms and transparency initiatives that leverage online tools such as the city website and mobile applications.
Judges specifically highlighted Sugar Land’s effective use of technology to keep citizens safe and informed during Hurricane Harvey.
“This year, (Sugar Land) launched a 311 Contact Center facility and also pushed the platform online, broadening the ways that citizens can report potholes and other infrastructure needs,” wrote Government Technology. “In terms of public-facing efforts, open data and transparency work is ongoing in the city, with story maps that include street address information ranking as a nice service for citizens. Similarly, helpful services include an online town hall and a real-time traffic map, which also features flood gauges.
“The city continues to expand its social media presence. This past year, Sugar Land garnered 71,845 followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and a new account on Nextdoor, an increase of roughly 40 percent. For its use of social media during Hurricane Harvey to get info to citizens, the city was awarded a statewide award from the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.”
An example of Sugar Land’s innovative use of technology includes partnerships with private platforms to improve quality of life. Sugar Land’s recent partnership with Waze, a Google company, to improve mobility via information sharing is the first collaboration of its kind in the Houston region.
The data-sharing partnership enhanced information already available to drivers through a free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app and directly addressed a need identified by residents in its most recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey. While residents gave the city high marks for customer service, citizen communications and public safety, mobility continues to be an area of concern with an interest on improvement.
The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute focused on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. CDG is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.