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City Lights: Gary Brantley: CIO, City of Atlanta

Gary Brantley, Chief Information Officer at the City of Atlanta, talks to SmartCitiesWorld about his role in making Atlanta smarter.

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With over 486,000 residents, Atlanta is the capital of Georgia, USA. The city is known for its diverse musical heritage and Southern hospitality as well as being home to the world’s busiest airport and the birthplace of the civil rights movement.

 

Atlanta is also on the rise as one of North America’s newest tech meccas due to promising start-ups and the public sector’s focus on advancing services via technology, through the Smart Atlanta (Smart ATL) programme.

 

Gary Brantley, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the City of Atlanta, talks to SmartCitiesWorld about his role in making Atlanta smarter.

 

SCW: What is the main purpose of your role?

 

GB: To help set and lead the technology strategy for the City of Atlanta. I provide an executive-level interface between the technology department and the rest of the business. I also act as the chief advisor to the Mayor and City of Atlanta on all things tech.

 

This includes:

  • Creating business value through technology
  • Strategic planning of business growth objectives
  • Ensuring that tech systems and procedures lead to outcomes in line with business goals
  • Ensure proper service delivery
  • Governance
  • Management of day-to-day operations


SCW: What was your route to the position?

 

GB: I started in October 2018. My route has been very diverse. I started off in the private sector and worked for some of the largest and most profitable companies in the world.

 

I spent time in the school system as a CIO as well as holding executive positions in state and local government. Now my path has led me to local city government.

 

SCW: What does the term ‘smart city’ mean to you?

 

GB: A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technologies and Internet of Things solutions, in a secure fashion, to manage a city’s assets.

 

These assets include, but are not limited to, local departments’ information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement and other community services.

 

A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology and Internet of Things solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets.

 

SCW: Can you describe a typical day?

 

GB: I start the morning by catching up with my team on critical status updates and between meetings I usually take the time to review operational status reports. Emails are constantly coming in, so I review them all day and night.

 

The day usually involves reviewing contracts, budgets and service delivery metrics. I tend to make time for unexpected meetings or changes in my schedule due to the critical and sensitive nature of city services.

 

The afternoon is usually full of meetings, both internally and externally. I end my day by turning on my playlist and letting some of my favourite artists help me unwind. As I relax, I can plan and prepare for the next day.

 

SCW: What is your #1 priority right now?

 

GB: My top priority is to strengthen our core by focusing on reliable, secure and cost-effective IT services. I also believe that it is equally important to focus on accelerating technology by enhancing the end user experience to deliver efficient, timely and innovative IT services.

 

My top priority is to strengthen our core by focusing on reliable, secure and cost-effective IT services.

 

SCW: What are some of the positive effects new technologies can have on governments around the world?

 

GB: New technologies can enhance services for residents and the community, improve liveability, and help alleviate transportation congestion. Technology can be a powerful tool to improve urban services for governance, mobility, safety and disaster management.

 

SCW: What new problems do emerging technologies create in government?

 

GB: Innovation always creates disruption. I wouldn’t say it creates problems but creating a security strategy for new technologies should be a focal point.

 

Sometimes disruptive innovation is needed to get the wheels spinning.

 

Sometimes disruptive innovation is needed to get the wheels spinning.

 

SCW: What do you see as your biggest achievement since you started the role?

 

GB: Stabilising the environment, acquiring promising talent and hosting a successful SuperBowl53 are some of the biggest achievements to date.

 

SCW: What is the best part of the job?

 

GB: It never gets boring. I get to wake up every day knowing I can make an impact on the lives of the residents and visitors of the City of Atlanta.

 

SCW: What keeps you awake at night?

 

GB: Security, security, security!

 

SCW: If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

 

GB: I have a very musical family as my dad was a professional drummer when time permitted. I would have to say playing the drums and being heavily involved in music. It allows me to relax, relate and release.

 

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