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Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019

Modernizing City Software

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Hanson new Shreveport Chief Technology Officer

Check it off the list.

Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins has fulfilled one his campaign promises. And in less than 30 days.

Shreveport now has a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Keith Hanson was confirmed by the Shreveport City Council on Jan. 22. Hanson is the former president of a local tech company that specialized in custom software and mobile app development. He is considered to be a virtual genius by the local tech-head crowd.

He was quite successful as a small business entrepreneur. His company did work for Cisco, Symantec, Open Table, Red Ball Oxygen, Metro Aviation and many other mid- to large-sized national and local businesses.

It’s a feel-good story. A local boy who goes to a big city to find a job. He comes back home to marry.

He wants to stay here. He can’t find a decent job in the tech field. So, he starts his own business and makes it big time.

Then, viola! He merges his business and sells his interest. Then takes his business savvy to city hall.

So, what will Hanson be doing in his new digs as a city employee?

For starters, he will be managing the city’s information technology (IT) department. The IT budget is $3.7 million. Of this, $2.2 million is for staff and $1.5 million for operating expenses. The department has 30 authorized positions. Seven of these are currently vacant.

Hanson has three core goals for his first year.

The first is to effectuate cost-cutting IT projects citywide. Hanson will collaborate with department heads across the city and ensure operational efficiencies are combined with technology. This includes merging technology programs, negotiation of lower use rates, utilization of less expensive software, and modernizing operations by using cloud software.

A second goal is to set in motion major technology programs. These high-impact programs include universal broadband, modernizing IT to create a responsive and engaged city government and  coordinating smart-city public/private partnerships.

Lastly, Hanson will implement “citizenfacing” projects. He defines these as websites that Shreveport citizens can visit to submit ideas and view transparent budgets and information. Additionally, websites can provide chat for customer support for all departments and assist citizens who want or need to track public works projects.

Hanson also plans on modernizing the city’s multiple software systems. This effort will not only effectuate cost savings but also increase IT capabilities. For example, there are many currently outdated systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars a year in IT budgets.

As a part of this process, “big data” databases, otherwise known as data warehouses, will be created. This will provide data needed for planning and more information to elected officials. The IT department can then offer visualizations to the administration and the council to empower their decision-making in datadriven ways.

Hanson will coordinate implementation of universal broadband. This was another major initiative of the Perkins mayoral campaign.

This effort will require collaboration with internet service providers to lay more fiber to more locations across the city. This will be critical for many planned smart-city initiatives.

Hanson plans to create a modern digital marketing division within the IT department. This is a muchneeded economic development tool.

Additionally, this will help create more engagement between city government and citizens through digital service.

Hanson wants to make Shreveport more attractive for job providers and job seekers, especially in the “knowledge sector.” Often all these workers need is office space and an internet connection.

To do this, he wants to help facilitate a workforce pipeline across the region to attract more tech companies to Shreveport. This effort will include the education of city hall and economic development agencies to understand the IT sector and its potential better. It will also entail working with educators across our region to bring more K-12 initiatives for young and promising technologists. “I believe technology should empower people. As the CTO of Shreveport, that will always be my first priority,” Hanson said.

John Settle’s articles appear in local publications and on his blog Settletalk.com. His email is john@jesettle.com.

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