Westchester County was recognized in July by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties as, at tenth place, one of the Top 10 Digital Counties in the United States. County Executive Robert Astorino recently announced news of the award, which marks the ninth consecutive year Westchester County has cracked the top ten.
“I am proud that Westchester has once again received this prestigious honor,” said Astorino. “Special thanks to John McCaffrey, commissioner of our Department of Information Technology, for his continued leadership as well as the IT staff for their innovation and hard work. Leveraging technology is one way the county stays responsive to the needs of residents and can keep costs down.”
The survey recognizes counties leading the nation in their use of technology to improve government services. Westchester beat out thousands of counties in the U.S. to tie with King’s County, Washington, for 10th place in the 500,000 [residents] and Over category.
The county’s social media accounts have become an important vehicle for communicating key information to the public, proving useful, for example, during emergency situations like Superstorm Sandy to communicate essential information to the public.
Westchester County has a presence on a number of social media sites, most notably twitter and Facebook, with 8,000 followers and 3,000 likes, respectively. The official county government’s website’s reputation as a one-stop-shop for information relating to county parks, events, emergency services, and affordable housing projects is one of the key factors that earned it the number 10 spot. The county has also used its digital footprint to promote transparency, posting county-administered contracts.
The county has even created a Digital Communication Taskforce headed up by social media expert and CEO of Silverback Social Christopher Dessi, along with his colleague and Chief Marketing Officer John Zanzarella.
“The government realizes that the world has changed, social media and technology are no longer a choice,” said Dessi. “It has become so ingrained into how everyone communicates. [The county] realizes that if it doesn’t engage, its leaders would fall behind in reaching their constituents.”
Dessi also emphasized the government’s active role in improving digital literacy across the county. Westchester County was one of the first sponsors of the Westchester Digital Summit, a conference dedicated to helping Westchester businesses educate themselves about technology.
And the county has no intention of resting on its laurels. Westchester County Communications Director Ned McCormack spoke of innovations on the way: “We are continuously looking to improve. Right now, we are in the process of revamping our website to have better readability on handheld devices by early fall.”