GovPilot sat down with Adam Loehner, Deputy Village Administrator at the Township of South Orange Village, New Jersey to discuss his views and approach to incorporating an ambitious technology strategy.
Govpilot: Modern technology has changed how your municipality operates. However, in terms of service offerings, what do you envision for the future? What kinds of services or abilities would you like to offer 3-5 years from now, that people may not have even thought of yet?
Adam Loehner: A Virtual Village Hall portal that encompasses every department, all public records and any and all forms which the Village uses. One stop where residents or employees would be able sign in to find anything from permits, to meeting minutes or videos and services the municipality offers.
GovPilot: Establishing trust with a local government is a prerequisite for becoming partners. What should other municipalities know about getting on board with new technology? What’s your advice?
Adam Loehner: It begins with a strategic plan. Having a road map of what you would like to offer and how it will be implemented will help pave the way for technology to be infused into the organization. Much of the technology is already out there, the obstacle is finding where the technology fits. These puzzle pieces of technology must work together efficiently for the sanity of your employees. Introducing five core software applications is much easier than throwing ten applications at them. Understanding the greater picture and the goals of your municipality from your strategic plan will aid in the selection of these core applications.
Once the core applications have been identified, it is imperative that a municipality identify a vendor or vendors for those applications who will truly be partners in meeting your needs and growing with the municipality as those needs grow. Establishing partnerships is critical to customizing tech solutions that will cohesively integrate with other programs and meet the specific goals of your community.
GovPilot: Technology brings more clarity to any operation. What has using modern technology taught you about your constituents? Is there anything that has surprised you? Is there anything that you have learned about people, but maybe did not expect to?
Adam Loehner: Incorporating modern technology into South Orange Village operations has created more opportunities for our constituents to interact with and engage their government. South Orange is committed to transparency and robust citizen engagement and participation in our government and processes. South Orange Village is a very engaged and tech savvy community and as we roll out new technology we have been pleased, although not necessarily surprised, with how eagerly our citizens have embraced these new platforms, technologies and information outlets.
GovPilot: Finally, and this does not have to be tech-related, are there any progressive or forward-thinking projects that your municipality is currently implementing or working on? If so, why is it significant?
Adam Loehner: South Orange Village is in the process of building a virtual desktop environment which will include every resource and piece of software to run a municipal government. As we are building the infrastructure we are congruently integrating software applications to all work together within this system. We hope to someday use this as a shared service that we could offer to other municipalities throughout New Jersey.