Denton, Richardson, & DeSoto Among ‘Top Digital Cities’ in U.S.

The North Texas cities were named to the Government Technology magazine list highlighting cities in the U.S. that best used data to improve residents’ lives.

digital cities


The cities of Denton, Richardson, and DeSoto have been named among the country’s Top Digital Cities by Government Technology magazine.

The Center for Digital Government, which collaborates with Government Technology magazine to create the list, surveyed dozens of municipalities across the country to identify cities that best used data to improve residents’ lives, and best safeguarded their data in the process. The three North Texas cities were included for their use (or planned use) of digital dashboards to track metrics such as spending and homelessness, and other initiatives.

“As in prior years, some common themes emerged,” Government Technology wrote. “Open government, open data, and citizen engagement initiatives (in various forms) were a common theme. As was baking in network security measures often on par with those of the federal government.”

The city of Denton ranked No. 7, tying with Modesto, Ca., in its population category (125,000 – 249,999) and was praised for its collaboration with the University of North Texas:

Denton partnered with the University of North Texas, community members, and Serve Denton in creating an open data dashboard for such community problems as homelessness, which has been on the rise in the city for years. The city’s role in this project includes coordinating the data from other agencies, providing more than 15 data sets. Denton has seen a 30 percent increase in companies using its open data portal to assist in developing applications.

Melissa Kraft, the city of Denton’s chief technology officer, said the award reflects the city’s progress toward becoming a digital city.

“This award indicates we are effectively incorporating innovative technologies to make a positive impact to our community,” she said. “Technology is vital to streamlining business processes, improving communication with our citizens, and enabling innovation, things we are working hard to achieve as a city.”

Government Technology magazine praised the role that city of Richardson’s IT department plays in improving municipal service to residents. Richardson came in fourth in its category (75,000 – 124,999):

IT works to support Richardson’s departments to move forward on goals set by the City Council, including improving processes, customer service, and accessibility to the city. Transparency is a top priority, and budget graphs and dashboards will be added online in the upcoming year. A mobile-first approach is used when new web apps are developed, and an app that was developed in-house simplifies the process of reporting issues to the city while also providing up-to-date information about city news and events.

The city of DeSoto, meanwhile, came in at No. 6 in its category (up to 75,000) and earned laurels for its fiscal transparency and a web presence that would likely draw envy from any large city: 

Beginning with fiscal transparency, city officials have released a spending portal, making it simple for residents to identify exactly where their taxes go. DeSoto has been awarded for its commitment to transparency by the state comptroller, who designated the city a Platinum Member in 2014. However, openness is not all of what makes DeSoto a Digital Cities winner: The city has taken the time and exerted the effort to provide many digital services online.

“The city of DeSoto has made great strides to improve the way our residents interact with their city’s government,” said D. Thomas Figert, managing director of technology for the city of DeSoto. “DeSoto’s Digital Cities award is made possible by an organization-wide culture of innovation and creativity. We are the first city in our population category in the state since 2011 to receive this award. I’m very proud of the IT staff, the technical acumen of colleagues in other departments, and the expert guidance of our vendor partners. Together, we’re cultivating an environment of efficiency and productivity, expert support, and transparency that we think will serve our citizens well in the years to come.”

Other Texas cities included on the 2016 list were Austin, El Paso, and Sugar Land. Altogether, 40 cities were included on the list.


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