What Is Considered 'Smart' Government in the Digital Age?

RALEIGH, N.C. — Where do advances in good government take place, and what constitutes “smart” anything in a time when buzzwords run rampant in the tech environment? A panel of experts from all levels of North Carolina government gathered to hash out the definition and discuss where they look for ideas when it comes to moving their respective organizations forward.

In an hour-long panel Aug. 30, during the North Carolina Digital Government Summit, officials from state and local government discussed the issues of working with vendors, defining “smart” in the digital age and accurately measuring success.

After some deliberation, panelists seemed to settle on the idea that smart government means different things to different organizations, but agreed that the term followed in the footsteps of market-driven buzzwords that preceded it.

“I’ve been struggling for a while now to figure out what does that mean for our organization, our county government or for government in general,” said moderator and Wake County CIO Bill Greeves.

Its place along the technology continuum seems to fall in the same ranks as words like “e-government and cloud” Greeves said — an almost condescending way to spur business.

“It seems to me there are one or two ways you can look at it," he added. "One, it’s just a hype term made up by the vendor community to sell stuff, frankly. And now everyone seems to be glomming on to it. Or the alternative definition is that it seems to be sort of an extremely generic term that can include a lot of things that we are probably already doing, like data analytics, sensors we mentioned, mobility, even social media.”