Chief of Civic Innovation & Technology
Louisville Metro Government
Founder and Director
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Chief of Civic Innovation & Technology for Louisville Metro Government, Grace Simrall, discusses leveraging data for sustainability and improved community life.
Hello, and welcome to the comSpark podcast, where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders. To learn more, visit comspark.tech.
LF: We're here today with Grace Simrall, Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology, Louisville Metro Government. They're based here in Louisville, and they have over 5,000 employees. Grace, thanks for being on the podcast today.
GS: Thank you so much for having me.
LF: Awesome. So let's talk about some emerging disruptive technology and innovation. In your opinion, what is one of the most exciting disruptive technologies that is beginning to impact our work or lives?
GS: Louisville Metro Government is particularly interested in how we could leverage emerging data and technologies to better outcomes for our entire community. So, what we like to say is, it's more pursuing a smart city strategy. It's not tech for tech's sake, but we are interested in how we could leverage data and technology to improve outcomes as related to public health and safety, the economy and innovation, sustainability and just improve the lives of everyone in our community.
LF: Great. And how are you using technology for positive change or disruption in your organization?
GS: Well, there are a number of ways we're doing this. The first way is we are doing a better job of leveraging our open data. Louisville Metro Government instituted an open data portal and it has an open by default policy, which means that for the most part, data we collect is open and free and available to the public. But what does that really mean? When we look at how the public uses our open data portal, we see that there are particular areas that they're really interested in. And that isn't to say that it's not useful for the public at large – the data we put out there – but in its current form is not so, so useful. So we've looked at ways to make this information a lot more consumable and easy for people to use. We're really excited about partnering with a company called IFTT, It's “If This,Then That,” to be able to democratize our open data and make it useful. For example, we've been able to pair our air quality index data so that people know exactly what the air quality is and be able to make better choices about how they go about their day.
LF: How do you fuel innovation efforts on your team and organizationally?
GS: So, it's not difficult to fuel innovation among my team. The individuals who come to work for the office of civic innovation are those who want to make a big impact on their community and are naturally curious and innovative. Um, so oftentimes our challenge is to figure out how to prioritize that energy and make it work and that's where the community comes in. Almost all of our work involves cocreation with the public at large and it results in much better outcomes for our innovation projects.
LF: Awesome. Let's talk about some infrastructure topics. We all want to know, can you tell us about your home network?
GS: My home network is one that we pride in locking down and securing. I know that a lot of people are really interested in using smart home technologies, those that are connected in the home. I'm taking a bit more of a cautious, wait-and-see approach. A lot of these aren't terribly hardened in terms of cybersecurity. So, I have it fairly locked down and I don't expose too many devices to the public internet.
LF: SD-WAN – is, is it for everyone?
GS: Not necessarily. It's gonna be a case-by-case basis.
LF: Can you tell us about your equipment lifecycle management plan?
GS: Sure. Louisville Metro Government – as many public institutions – is dealing with a legacy of deferred maintenance. And so, we've taken a posture to really radically improve the way we handle our technology refresh cycles and are positioning ourselves to be able to hit industry best practices.
LF: And how has cloud technology changed the way you manage your infrastructure?
GS: It gives us a lot of opportunity in terms of, again, giving us the ability to secure the smart city and secure government services. So much of our back office operation depends on connectivity and having services stay up. And so, for example, having access to the cloud as extra backup and storage is incredibly critical to the security and function of government.
LF: Grace, thank you for being on the podcast today.
GS: Thank you so much for having me!
LF: To learn more about us, visit comspark.tech. Goodbye, and until next time.
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