Steps taken by Government to Ameliorate impact of COVID-19

Steps taken by Government to Ameliorate impact of COVID-19

Margaret Brisbane, CIO and Director of the Information Technology Department, Miami Dade County

Margaret Brisbane, CIO and Director of the Information Technology Department, Miami Dade County

Margaret Brisbane is the Director of the Information Technology Department for Miami Dade County. In her current role, she is responsible for leading a team of IT professionals in servicing the technology needs of the County. The team provides support to all County Departments, including enterprise solutions for Financial, Payroll, Human Resources, Public Safety, Legislative, Transportation, Regulatory and Environmental, eCommerce and the PeopleSoft systems. Under her strategic leadership, the team also supports document and asset management and geospatial systems as well as major technology projects, including, but not limited to Criminal Justice, Permitting and Code Enforcement, Radio and the enterprise network. Prior to joining the County, Margaret served as Director of Service Delivery for Burger King Corporation. During her 20-year career, she led the Telecommunications Center of Excellence for various Diageo brands with a focus on restaurant Point of Sales system implementation for various domestic and international locations.

How did the pandemic really force the government sector to take a leap in terms of technology and move forward accordingly?

The County serves approximately 2.7 million residents and so it was critical to ensure that government services were available throughout the pandemic. Moving operations from office locations to a remote model, required us to equip employees with the right tools so they could continue to be effective.  To address this need, we developed “business in a box” solution that gave employees the necessary tools to do their job. Business processes were heavily reliant on moving paper documents throughout the departments, a process that was quickly addressed. In record time, there were 15,000-20,000 documents being signed electronically. Invoices, contracts, and legal documents were proceeding quickly and efficiently.  Additionally, we were able to put protocols in place that will aid in digital document submission and move the entire process from offline to online. As a County, we made every effort to guarantee business operations by empowering our customers with the best technology and processes to support services they depend on.

The pandemic forced our County to adopt technology quickly and make process changes that would normally take a much longer time to adopt.  We saw this as an opportunity to leverage this crisis to yield positive results. Therefore, we made the most of the chance to implement measures that were needed to continue government operations

During COVID, the County and Mayor Lavine Cava had a strong focus on serving our most vulnerable population, including our seniors. To ensure that they were being provided the services they needed, we enhanced our 311 operations with chatbot capability to address their most critical needs like meal delivery. Digital solutions were also enhanced to support residents in scheduling vaccination appointments. This crisis allowed us to see County operations through a different lens -- one that we took advantage of in terms of innovation and service delivery.

How do you envision the future of this space?

We at Miami-Dade County are constantly modernizing and looking at ways to improve systems that we have in place to meet changing business needs. Today there are many new technologies that are transforming the local landscape. As a leader in Miami-Dade, we are making sure that we are not implementing technology for the sake of technology. Instead, we have focused on knowing how it may best support County operations. Innovation is at the core of what we do, so we are consistently evaluating the industry trends and solutions, like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and cryptocurrency.  It is important that we are good stewards of taxpay dollars and that our technology investments enable better services for our residents.

What would be your piece of advice for budding professionals in this field?

I believe that the CIO has a critical role in the organization to inspire innovation and serve the team effectively. We must always lead with empathy and foster an environment that encourages everyone to reach their full potential. Moreover, being a leader, one should never be afraid to take the risk. One needs to step into the challenges and work together to achieve success. It is also important that we are giving opportunities to everyone and exposing those hidden gems within our organization. Giving staff the opportunity and tools to grow and excel, to retool and upskill when necessary, to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology creates an environment of creativity to vision the new. Lastly, we are working in a world where the customer’s expectations and tech ecosystem changes daily, so it is important that you create an organization that grows together, building up your teams and leading by example.

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