How Atlanta Uses Tech Innovation To Fill In Equity Gaps

  • Atlanta, Georgia, is hoping to fill in the stock gaps as it has become a major tech hub.
  • Atlanta Information Management is at the fore in technology innovation in the city.
  • Initiatives include free Wi-Fi throughout the city and uSing security cameras to improve public safety.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities to build a better tomorrow called “Advanced Cities”.

Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the fastest growing technology centers in the country. Big tech companies like Apple, which plans to build campuses for tech education for students at black colleges and universities, have historically drawn in to foster local tech talent, and Microsoft, which recently announced plans to expand its presence in Atlanta, including a new data center and campus. Campus.

Shot in the head by Jason Sankey

Jason Sankey.

Courtesy of AIM


Jason Sankey, chief information officer for Atlanta Information Management (AIM), said the city still had “significant equity gaps.” His department hopes to bridge these gaps by using technology to deliver better and more equitable services citywide.Sankey joined AIM, the arm of the Atlanta government that was originally founded as the Department of Information Technology in 2004, last summer, and is currently spearheading a reset of smart city initiatives.

Guided by an operational strategy known as Operational Excellence, which identifies five pillars to create and deliver technology-centric services – enhancing core IT services, increasing service alignment across city departments, enhancing user experience, modernizing systems, and investing in workforce development – ​​AIM collaborates with other departments Local businesses and schools like Georgia Tech and organizations like Metro Atlanta Chamber build a public-private ecosystem to bring innovative technologies to the city.

Diagram explaining the differentiation process

Excellence process.

Courtesy of AIM


Atlanta’s new mayor, Andre Dickens, is a Georgia Tech graduate who was previously the chief development officer of the nonprofit TechBridge and co-founded the organization’s Technology Employment Program, which trains disadvantaged residents for technology jobs. Sankey said Dickens recognizes the role technology can play in helping Atlanta develop its innovative initiatives.

Here’s a look at what the Sankey team is doing to improve access to technology for everyone, as well as leveraging technology to make the city and its services safer and more efficient.

Installation of kiosks and free Wi-Fi

booth in the street

Interactive kiosks scattered around the city.

Courtesy of AIM


One of the projects AIM is working on is installing dozens of interactive kiosks across the city in partnership with IKE Smart City. The kiosks provide how-to information and details about city services and free WiFi, and Sankey said at least 25% of the kiosks will be installed in underserved communities. While the program is still new, the city plans to use data from the kiosks to inform future projects.

AIM also works with the city’s parks and recreation division to provide more than 250 computers and Wi-Fi to citizens at 17 centers throughout Atlanta.

Using security cameras to improve public safety

Sankey said public safety is another priority for Atlanta, and AIM is working with the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Police Foundation to create a real-time crime center. This allows law enforcement to view live footage from any nearby security camera when answering calls. Residents and businesses can voluntarily connect their security cameras to the police network.

The new system will update Atlanta’s existing video integration with new technology so that corporate security cameras are more compatible with the police system. “We’ve been interacting with our video fusion center; that real-time crime center will give us the ability to be proactive when tackling crime,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant told Fox 5 News.

As of January, 4,500 cameras have been integrated into the new system, and the police are expected to add another 25,000 over the next year.

Helping residents have better access to city services

AIM’s operational strategy focuses on creating innovative and reliable IT services across city divisions designed with users in mind.

“We really want to engage the community to understand how they interact with technology and how they want to provide technology,” Sankey said.

In line with that goal, AIM plans to pilot an upgrade to the 311 non-emergency system in Atlanta later this year that uses artificial intelligence and intuitive chat bots to answer residents’ questions about things like garbage collection and sidewalk repair. Sankey said the system would provide “real answers, not just common questions,” and came after feedback from residents revealed their frustration with trying to use the existing system, which didn’t always provide the information they needed.

AIM also has a team of seven business relationship managers who partner with other city departments to identify their technology needs, create solutions, and provide seamless services to residents.

Involve citizens in decisions related to technological innovation

As Atlanta’s tech sector grows, attracting and retaining talent and investing in the city’s existing employees has become another priority. Sankey said the city is collaborating with local colleges and universities on the city’s vocational training and training programs to provide disadvantaged groups with access to technical job training.

AIM also plans to launch a digital transformation office this year to ensure the city’s technology solutions work for those who use them. Those in this department will be involved in seeking to engage the public in initiatives and form partnerships between the public and private sectors.

“We want to invite community leaders as well as citizens to the innovation labs so they can interact with the proof-of-concept designs prior to implementation so they can tell us what issues or problem areas they are dealing with,” Sankey said.

Seriousness is the driving force behind all AIM projects. He added, “Time is the biggest challenge when it comes to technology. If we are able to drive with a sense of urgency, that counterbalances this ongoing challenge.”

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