Sky-level view of downtown Dallas
PHOTO: Michael Zanussi

Could you blame Hugh Miller for having a few sleepless nights? Miller is the CIO for the City of Dallas, which serves 1.3 million citizens and is the third largest city in the Lonestar State. Miller said what keeps him up at night is ensuring the city has a solid technical infrastructure that serves vital life-saving services such as 911 emergency calls, police and fire department operations and water services. 

That’s why Miller and his technology team keep a close eye on advancing technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and voice-recognition software to power more efficient experiences for public safety officials and Dallas residents.

Editor's Note: This Q&A with Miller is the last in our series catching up with public technology leaders on the subject of digital transformation inside their organizations and how it affects their constituents. In the first two installments we interviewed the chief innovation officer for the city of Kansas City and the CTO for the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Blockchain, AI Potential for City Processes

CMSWire: What technologies are you looking to learn more about/potentially infuse into the digital workplace in your new role?

Miller: I’m interested in learning more about blockchain for financial transparency and security; AI-for enhancing traffic management, predictive analytics (crime, infrastructure integrity, etc.) and video analytics; and enhanced voice recognition for better experiences inside police and fire vehicles.

CMSWire: How do you see AI being implemented? 

Miller: I see it being used in several ways that include enhancing traffic management, predictive analytics (crime, infrastructure integrity, etc.) and video analytics.

Related Article: Alberta Energy Regulator Bridges Divide Between IT and Business Leaders

Insight into Business, Citizen Delivery Expectations

CMSWire: What would you say is your organization's number 1 technical challenge and how do you plan to address it in 2019?

Miller: The demand for technology enhancements throughout the city is really high. So, the plan includes working with the business areas of the city and ensure that we have a deep understanding of their business processes along with the citizens’ service delivery expectations to build an investment plan and implementation schedule to deploy the appropriate technology solutions.

Need More Money, Sleep

CMSWire: Finish this sentence: In my role as CIO/chief tech executive, I would like to have more …

Miller: … Budgeted money, because the needs of the organization are pretty vast and the desired technology change is now, but there is always a limit to resources.

CMSWire: Finish this sentence: In my role as CIO/chief tech executive, I would like to have less …

Miller: ... Sleep-deprived nights. The responsibilities of the CIO in a large government are very vast. They include the technology necessary to assure the effectiveness of all city operations, including 911 calls, 311 calls, water services, streets and traffic, libraries and parks, airports, trash services, financials and ensuring office applications are available and usable at most times of the day. These require lots of servers, networks, phones, radios, databases, business systems, computers, etc. Within these enterprise-level technology expectations are lots of nights thinking about how to make things better for Dallas.

Related Article: Kansas City's Chief Innovation Officer on Smart Cities and Digital Transformation

The Evolving Role of Technology Leaders

Headshot of Hugh Miller, Dallas chief information officer

CMSWire: How would you say the role of CIO has changed from 5 years ago to today?

Miller: The technology department is still fairly infantile inside of companies. I say that because it’s only been a mainstream department for maybe 25 years, and most organizations are still dissecting how to use technology and the teams that deliver those services. This is very true for government services. An engaged CIO knows a large amount of information about each portion of the company that they serve. We need to be a business leader, a marketer, a technologist, a customer service provider, a contract manager, a project leader, a data officer, an innovation officer, a security officer and a transformation officer. Most of these have progressed pretty rapidly over the last five years.  

Moving San Antonio into the Technology Future

CMSWire: What's one past achievement in IT you're particularly proud of and why? 

Miller: Transforming the City of San Antonio from a reactive technology organization to more cutting edge technology government with better citizen engagement (Editor's note: Miller served as San Antonio’s CIO/CTO for 12 years from 2004 to 2016). We began by rebuilding the entire infrastructure and application portfolios including adding a fiber network throughout the city. Then we began working on projects like a city-wide traffic light management system, court kiosks, residential applications, etc. We stabilized the City’s SAP system and that helped the city receive AAA bond ratings from all three bond rating agencies for nine consecutive years. We built an IT project and portfolio office to deliver technology projects into a more enterprise approach.