Chief Innovation Officer

What is this position?

The chief innovation officer is a leadership position working out of the City Manager’s Office. The main focus will be to support staff throughout the city in exploring ways we can utilize new ideas and new technologies to deliver on the city mission at the highest and most efficient level possible.

How does this position differ from the IT director position or other positions in IT?

The chief innovation officer position has a broader charge that includes technology, but isn’t limited to technology. For ideas and projects that involve technology, the chief innovation officer will work very closely with IT. The overall goal is to foster a culture of innovation throughout the organization, whether it be apps, how we utilize data, process improvements, cross functional teams, you name it. If it helps us continually adapt and improve the work we’re doing and our service to the community, we want to encourage it.

Is this part of the “smart city” thing?


What is the smart city thing?

Smart cities is a buzzword that refers to cities using technology to work more efficiently and provide a better customer experience. And, Carlsbad is already a smart city – we have apps and connected traffic signals and sensors on our manhole covers, all kinds of innovations. What we don’t have (yet) is a roadmap for how all of these things fit together and where we are headed next. That will be a big focus of the chief innovation officer’s first 90 days.

Where will the office be?

The chief innovation officer will work out of an office at City Hall. You can also expect to see the chief innovation officer using the city manager’s satellite office at Faraday from time to time, and pretty much anywhere else throughout the city that has a wifi connection. Chief innovation officers have a habit of roaming.

Will new innovation projects take attention away from the effort to strengthen our basic IT infrastructure?

No. Both are critical, and both will have the resources needed to accomplish their goals.

What other cities have chief innovation officers?

It’s becoming a lot more common, but cities with this position still tend to be on the larger side or just incredibly cool. We would be in the latter category, of course. Here’s a link to some of the more well-known cities with this position. And another one.

I have ideas for how we can be more innovative. How should I communicate them?

One of the first things the chief innovation officer will do is reach out to all the departments to meet staff, get a sense of their needs and hear their ideas. However, don’t wait for that. You can send your ideas through the “virtual suggestion box” on the intranet anytime.

This all sounds very interesting. How can I find out more?

A lot of the discussion about smart cities and innovation takes place on Twitter. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you can create one just for the purpose of following the discussions and getting links to all the latest articles. Here is a list of people you could follow who are active on the topics of government innovation and smart cities.

Articles by/about David Graham, our new chief innovation officer:

Here are a few other resources:

Pew Research study on the value of chief innovation officers.

ICMA article, The Rise of the Chief Innovation Officer

Smart Cities, a Cheat Sheet

Compilation of articles from The Guardian

Fun fact: Chief Innovation Officer tends to be abbreviated as CINO, (See-Know) so as not to be confused with Chief Information Officer, CIO.