Digital mission of local authority services
The mode of operation of local administrations and services has changed radically over the generations. During a short break by City Hall, we caught up with Syracuse’s Director of Digital Services, Kelsey May.
“At the end of the day, there was just something that drew me here,” May said. “I knew there was something waiting here that was bigger than me, that was bigger than anything.”
Coming from the private sector before the pandemic, this has been a unique and progressive time for May and the digital mission.
“So it’s a really exciting time to be in this administration,” she added. “You know, we’re very committed to completely transforming the way voters interact with city government.”
It changes the experience of his office far beyond the walls of City Hall.
“Historically, the government has been seen as lagging far behind the private sector and sort of some of the market trends that are out there. But ultimately, we’re now in a position where we’re trying to figure out how can we get ahead of that. “
Everything from operations and services to hiring attracts modern attention and attitudes.
“As we were building the city’s first digital team, as we were building a whole new team at City Hall, we had a representative workforce,” May said.
It’s far from inclusive desktop and minor web features.
“We seek to transform every inch of city government,” May said. “You know, the smart cities initiative is a very important part of our technology agenda, transforming our back-office functions and our internal systems, you know, employee systems, you know, ultimately everything we do is business-led but technology-enabled.”
May sees a bright future from Salt City to Empire State and beyond.
“I believe in the next 10 years,” May said. “I tell my team all the time, I tell my colleagues all the time, especially at Syracuse, we’re at the start of something that I think is going to be huge.”
With every day comes progress and while there are definitely obstacles along the way, it’s okay.
“Digital transformation is considered a very scary thing. There are a lot of things that come into play from an organizational change readiness perspective,” May said. “There’s a lot to do from a technology maintenance standpoint, as well as hiring. And for anyone who’s a leader or aspiring leader in this space. All of those things are possible.”
With many changes coming to digital services in Syracuse, the focus is on ensuring that every resident has the basic ability and understanding of technology to better serve the city in all aspects.