Interview with Aurora CIO: Accelerating technology adoption in cities
A 10-Question Deep Dive with Michael Pegues, CIO for the City of Aurora, IL
Marketplace.city enables local governments to source, validate and procure technology solutions. Now, two years into their partnership with Aurora, IL, and Aurora has realized significant benefits — over $750,000 in savings, over 100 hours of resource savings per project and end-to-end solicitation time reduction from over 12 months to four months. Not only that, but Marketplace.city has also found numerous new technology providers.
That includes Marketplace.city recently joining the Mastercard City Possible network by publishing an app in the data and insights marketplace. Now, city partners who use the app have the ability to engage Marketplace.city’s Clearbox Process for technology sourcing and procurement. City partners are offered one free Market Landscape from Marketplace.city, which can be claimed by visiting the Marketplace.city-City Possible registration page.
In order to learn more about the value that Marketplace.city delivers, you can hear it directly from City Possible partner the City of Aurora, Illinois and their Chief Information Officer Michael Pegues.
Marketplace.city COO Andrew Watkins sat down to conduct an interview with Aurora’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Michael Pegues. The two talked about what’s been accomplished, data, quicker turnarounds on solicitations, public safety and building smarter cities.
Moderator Andrew Watkins (COO Marketplace.city): Talk to me about what you’ve seen in the past about the rigidity and procurement of some of the rules, and why being agile really helps you guys make changes as your strategic check plan evolves year-over-year.
Michael Pegues (CIO Aurora, IL): Tech changes so rapidly, and I noticed in the public sector and local government spaces, it was taking somewhere from eight-to-10 months to complete one RFP. By the time that RFP is done, the requirements have completely changed. The technology has probably changed three or four versions.
There’s no way we can operate like this, and we need to be able to go through that vetting process – validation, bidding and procurement to identify those different products within four-to-six weeks on average. That’s the only way we’re going to be competitive in this market, especially if we want to be a world class city and consider ourselves a smart city.
Andrew: How do you quantify the value of partnering with Marketplace.city?
Michael: I look at it in terms of four buckets: people, process, partners and products/services.
In terms of people, it frees up man hours. We have the data to show that in 2019, when we did the pilot, we freed up 1,000 man hours of our procurement team in the city of Aurora.
In terms of process, Marketplace.city came in and they put in their Clearbox Process, which established a baseline process for the city of Aurora in terms of how technology procurement was being done. We created this transparency and accountability that aligned to our local ordinance and procurement rules. From a city council perspective, that’s great for business, as we can take that to our constituents and say we’re being fiscally responsible.
Andrew: How does this effort scale your impact beyond the city of Aurora?
Michael: If you have the data and you can gain insight from that, it’s powerful. It allows us to be agile. It also allows us to show we’ve done our due diligence, that we’re fiscally responsible and we’re transparent about everything we do.
Andrew: How are you able to repurpose the savings generated from working with Marketplace.city?
Michael: When we did the pilot in 2019-2020, the actual contract savings totalled somewhere about half-a-million dollars just for that pilot for over 14 RFP’s. We went back and showed those tangible cost savings to our mayor, to our city council and to our constituents, and said,
“We want to take those contract savings and invest that into other modernization projects whether it’s cybersecurity, innovation, modernization or if it’s the people – the human capital, that exists in the city of Aurora.”
Andrew: When you’re talking about police leadership or public safety leadership, that’s not something where their area of expertise is technology, so talk to me about how you worked within the process and allowed the city to get really comfortable with these big commitments to new systems over five or ten year RFPs.
Michael: Going back to the data, and the collaboration and cooperation at the city level, regional level, the state level and the national level. One of the beautiful things, and it’s a very simple thing, that Marketplace.city and I think the city of Aurora has implemented is that piggy-backing clause: Don’t reinvent the wheel.
If we know that the city of Aurora just went through a very comprehensive process in terms of police body cameras. And now we know that Chicago, or a neighboring municipality in the next state, already went through it, then why do all that additional homework when you have that data in a repository?
That data is currency, as it’s saving time, and it’s saving money. It’s being fiscally responsible, and I think showing that to your city council and showing that to your constituents — I think that’s really where the value add is.
If we can be that leader in that space — working with creative and innovative partners like Marketplace.city — I think it’s a win-win for everybody. It’s a bit of unconventional thinking, and it’s not a very common space for municipalities, but crisis doesn’t wait for governments to catch up.
Andrew: In terms of citizen engagement, technology needs to continue to meet citizens, residents and businesses where they are, and how important it is for government to evolve, and know the tools that are in every one of your citizens’ hands on a daily basis.
Michael: I think we need to lean on that public/private partnership model by creating strategic partnerships with start-ups like Marketplace.city, and let the start-ups like yourself come up with the ideas that help drive innovation, streamline the process and help to make the city better.
We’re government, and the quintessential thing you take away from being a government is that it’s bureaucratic. It’s slow, and that’s what governments are for. They’re there to put checks and balances in place to make sure we safeguard the citizen’s best interests.
But when you’re talking about innovation, you can’t be moving that slow. It needs to be a balance. That public/private partnership, I think is the new model moving forward in this fourth industrial revolution. We’re talking about cyberspace and artificial intelligence, because the landscapes are changing. It’s not physical anymore — it’s very virtual.
And if the government can’t stay up, which we know from history it cannot (local government) – let’s address that. What are the options we need to make ourselves sustainable? I think it’s through this kind of private/public partnership.
About Marketplace.city Clearbox Process
For more information about Marketplace.city Clearbox Process and to access a Free Market Landscape for City Possible Data Insights users, visit the app in the Data Insights app store or visit the registration form here: Register