Wake County is fortunate to have a talented and dedicated workforce and a citizenry interested in striving toward a better and brighter community. The Innovation Team works with county departments, as well as nonprofits and private-sector organizations, to find opportunities to improve government and its services without adding to the budget bottom line.
We identify cutting-edge technology that may benefit county operations and citizens. A flexible and collaborative process is used intentionally involving county business units, the local startup community, universities, other municipalities, the local Council of Governments, tech companies, and the civic tech community. We share processes, ideas and discoveries with these organizations to mutually support efforts.
Improve Government & Citizen Services
Wake County is growing fast, and that growth puts stress on the county's infrastructure and increases demand for services like transportation, human services and more. It also requires that we think of new and innovative solutions to challenges and find creative ways to deliver services to the community without adding unnecessarily to the budget bottom line.
The Wake Innovates initiative is designed to foster a new culture of innovative thinking across the entire county government. The initiative includes dedicated workspace, staff and funding to explore and pilot new technologies, develop proofs of concept, and ultimately find solutions that enable us to deliver services more efficiently and effectively.
Coordinate Community Broadband & Digital Literacy Services
A few years ago, the Wake County Board of Commissioners included the following in their annual goals and objectives: "Work collaboratively with stakeholders to explore opportunities to remove barriers, leverage resources and more quickly facilitate buildout of high-speed internet connectivity throughout Wake County."
The county is committed to improving access to high-speed internet resources for all citizens. We're working with local towns, cities, our school system, and community organizations on projects that provide access to digital literacy resources, computer resources and affordable high-speed internet services to all of our one million plus county residents.
Engage with the Civic Community
Wake County is home to an active and talented community of technology workers, entrepreneurs, startups and other like-minded people interested in using their time and talents to improve life in their neighborhoods and communities. We're engaging with them to share resources and create better outcomes together.
Each year, the county collaborates with our civic tech community to identify initiatives related to the county's goals and objectives. These initiatives are then circulated throughout the civic tech community, and throughout the year, county staff and civic-minded citizens come together to implement these specific initiatives for the benefit of all county residents. Additionally, county staff and civic tech leaders identify some core goal areas to use as "themes" for civic tech events that take place throughout the year. These themes are used to help focus the new and creative projects that come out of numerous civic tech events such as CityCamp NC, Datapalooza, and National Day of Civic Hacking.
If you are an area resident, entrepreneur or civic-minded individual and would like more information about getting involved, we encourage you to visit the following resources:
Explore / Implement Disruptive Technology
There are two categories of new technology: sustaining technology and disruptive technology. Sustaining technology constitutes incremental changes and improvements to existing technology, while disruptive technology displaces existing technology and may even create a new industry. Disruptive technologies are unique in a few ways:
- They are unpolished, unrefined and rough around the edges. Disruptive technologies often have performance problems since they are in an early iterative stage.
- They have a small, niche audience. Disruptive technologies are created to fill a narrow slice of the market that isn't addressed by existing technologies. Disruptive technologies are initially considered inferior to the existing technologies.
- They may not have a proven application or business use when initially launched.
The Wake County Innovation Team vets, prototypes and launches disruptive technologies to help solve business problems. Some of the technologies that the innovation team has worked on or plans to work on include:
- Beacons and how they might help with land development activities and facilitate caring for the homeless population.
- 3D printing, which is incorporated into more than 51% of American manufacturing processes.
- Personal assistants - artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies like Alexa and Siri.
- Blockchain technology/cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Stellar; peer-to-peer electronic cash systems without third-party intermediaries such as banks.
- Internet of Things (IoT): Nest, Apple Watch, FitBit. Data analytics will leverage the abundance of data gathered via these devices.