Seat Pleasant was in the middle of a digital transformation. The city located just 10 miles outside Washington, DC boasts a population of approximately 4,781. Prior to COVID, according to Mayor Eugene Grant, the city was moving towards adopting technology as the way of life within the government. From cloud computing to easy access to permits and other applications online.
“We were already heavily utilizing digital channels to engage and communicate with our residents. We’ve also been implementing cloud solutions that allow us to access the data we need remotely, so the transition to working from home has been a smooth one,” said Mayor Grant.
Learn more about how this quaint city was able to transition quickly to a digital government, ready and able to serve its residents during the pandemic.
What personal barriers have you faced in responding to COVID-19 in your community and how have you overcome them?
Our community has faced a number of challenges dealing with COVID. The first one is how do we get accurate information and what is the best way to respond. We first looked to the County Health department but as expected, they were inundated with crafting a county wide response, so we took matters into our own hands and brought on the first board certified health officer in Seat Pleasant’s history. She has been instrumental in shaping our response. Other challenges faced by our community include unemployment and the closing of businesses. To overcome these, we’ve partnered with Mastercard to distribute direct financial support using prepaid cards, and we’ve worked with county officials, churches, community advocates, and non-profits to organize multiple food drives for the needy.
What role has technology played in keeping your city up and running – give an example, if possible?
The fact that we’ve been undergoing a digital transformation over the last several years has really helped us navigate the pandemic. We were already heavily utilizing digital channels to engage and communicate with our residents. We’ve also been implementing cloud solutions that allow us to access the data we need remotely, so the transition to working from home has been a smooth one. I highly recommend to all cities, that they begin to put similar systems and processes in place, that facilitate both telework and digital public engagement, so that all residents continue to have access to their governments. Finally, I recommend partnering with Private industry to help meet the needs of your residents, as we’ve done with Mastercard in order to provide direct financial aid in the form of prepaid credit cards to residents in need.
When I timed this response, it was 49 seconds.
How are you, as a mayor, rethinking public-private partnerships to change policy around serving the needs of your residents?
Again, we’ve been undertaking a digital transformation to become a Smart City over the last four years. Quite simply, this transformation could not have been implemented without Public-Private Partnerships. They are absolutely crucial to the success of Smart City transformation for several reasons. One is that the problems we’re setting out to solve with Smart City technology don’t only affect one stakeholder. The problems facing cities today are complex and can have an impact on government, residents, businesses and educational institutions all at once. The second reason is that as a municipality, we do not have all the resources or expertise necessary to implement comprehensive smart city projects on our own, so the help from the private sector is crucial. This is true for all cities, but especially smaller ones, and thus I urge all city leaders to be creative in seeking and crafting public private partnerships that create a win-win scenario for all stakeholders.
About the Author:
Melissa Williams is a communications and marketing manager at NLC. She supports NLC’s membership and partnership teams.
About Our Partner: IGNITE is a global consulting practice designed to develop, engage and ignite relationships with Mayors, CIOs and global technology firms. The objective is to architect a connected city by placing people at the center of our purpose. IGNITE has refocused the connected city space and developed a smart framework that can scale, replicate and become profitable. The result creates a visible impact that is measured by PEOPLE through citizen engagement, transformed infrastructure and improved city services.