It’s normal for most tech companies to have a chief technology officer — someone to oversee any of the overarching tech issues in the organization.
But what about a city?
In Washington, D.C., the role of chief technology officer is a bit different. Just ask Archana Vemulapalli, who ended a two-year tenure in the position in early January. Recently, she joined IBM as the general manager for network services.
But while in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration, Vemulapalli and her team focused on a lot of different initiatives: smart city technologies, broader cybersecurity trainings and painting the picture of D.C. as a national tech hub to the rest of the world.
“In the city, when we talk about a chief technology officer, that role really encompasses the chief information officer, the chief technology officer and any innovation from a technology standpoint,” Vemulapalli said in an interview on District Download. “It’s one role that really rolls up the responsibility of technology for the city.”
D.C.’s CTO thinks about future technology investments, ensures core operations are stable and tries to set the technological vision for the city — and the office is backed by a 2018 fiscal year budget of approximately $113 million. Setting the technological vision for the city is probably where the District’s movement towards smart city technologies comes in.
Under Vemulapalli’s tenure, implementing technologies like 71 smart streetlights in the Golden Triangle corridor, trash cans that can sense and report fill levels to optimize trash collections and installing wifi hotspots in various points of the city. And who can forget the District’s partnership with Starship Technologies to work with Postmates on using food delivery robots?
“It’s not just about doing smart cities for the sake of smart cities, right,” Vemulapalli said. “It’s about how do we make strategic sense.”
Listen to the full interview in the third episode of District Download, our podcast produced in partnership with General Assembly.
SHOW NOTES (Links to stories and companies mentioned, along with credit information):
A better D.C. Bucket List [730DC]