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Norfolk named one of 2018’s ‘Digital Cities’ in survey

NORFOLK, Va. – The Center for Digital Government (CDG) announced Norfolk, VA as among the winners of the 2018 Digital Cities Survey.

The 18th annual edition of the survey recognizes cities using technology to tackle social challenges, enhance cybersecurity, improve transparency and much more. It honors cities in five population classifications: 500,000 or more; 250,000 to 499,999; 125,000 to 249,999; 75,000 to 124,999 and fewer than 75,000.

Norfolk placed among the top 10 cities in the 125,000 to 249,999 population category, directly behind Alexandria, VA (#4) and ahead of Hampton, VA (#6), the only other Virginia cities that made it into the top 10 in that population category.  Norfolk has been ranked as a top 10 Digital City for the past three years.

“We are proud to receive this recognition.  This makes the third consecutive year that Norfolk has been named a Top 10 Digital City by the Center for Digital Government,” said Steven DeBerry, Norfolk’s Chief Information Officer.  “We appreciate this recognition of our efforts to deliver innovative and effective technology services that connect our residents to their city government, promote transparency, encourage resilience and improve public safety.”

The Digital Cities Survey summarized Norfolk’s win on its website: Norfolk created its open data policy in 2017 and launched its data portal in March this year, giving residents free 24/7 access to information such as the Norfolk Cares call center, permits and streetlights. The portal has 19 data sets, with more to be added in the future.

What’s more, the city’s Open Data team is working with the Sunlight Foundation on tactical data engagement. The foundation is guiding Norfolk in identifying an issue that can be solved with data: resilience and flooding.

Another transparency highlight, Balancing Act, gives residents a chance to provide input on city budgetary decisions like increasing taxes or decreasing services.

Norfolk plans to upgrade its decade-old 311 tracking system to integrate the city’s workload management data. This will include launching a service portal that will upload and track residents’ issues; it will also be available as a mobile app.

Norfolk has also striven to provide residents with more access to online services by building on its free public Wi-Fi network. That effort began in city libraries and expanded to free Wi-Fi in public spaces. There is also a free mobile Wi-Fi hotspot program in public libraries, which permits residents to check out personal hotspot devices to access Wi-Fi.