I had the opportunity to attend the ICMA conference in Boston this past week. ICMA stands for International City/County Manager Association and it is the professional organization that supports local government management and managers. The Town of Enfield is a member of this organization as am I, in fact it was through an ad in the bi-weekly ICMA job listing that I became aware of the opportunity here in Enfield. The conference is loaded with sessions that focus on a myriad of topics, from the very macro level of how we operate to the very micro level of how the profession effects managers as individuals. I make an effort to attend this conference at least every other year. This year the trend or hot topic was data. One of the keynote addresses focused on how communities can utilize
big data to their advantage – in conjunction with that keynote was an event called Hackstock. The idea is that communities make available to the public as much data as possible and then invite computer programmers and technology professionals to hack into the data and produce new ways for the public to access the data in a meaningful way, for the most part new applications are created for our smart phones/tablets. While we may not be ready to host a hackstock type event, I do like the idea of making available to the public as much data as possible. I will be challenging our departments to accomplish just that in the coming months. One speaker made the point that, pre-internet the large institutions had the advantage of controlling data and information, in the internet age it is much easier to access information and thus become involved in public decisions.
I attended a session on sustainability that was very informative. The term sustainability can cover a wide range of topics, but at its heart it is about making sure that what we do ensures the long term success of our community. The City Administrator from Davenport, Iowa made a great presentation about how their community has embraced the sustainability concept, specifically he argued that nothing has a bigger impact on the long term health of a community than investing in public education. He stated that it is our responsibility to involve our youth in the decisions that will affect their future. Sitting next to me at that session was the mayor of La Tebaida, Columbia, proving that good ideas about how to govern know no boundaries. There were a couple other great ideas that came from
that session, including creating a season’s pass for a year’s worth of recreation activities. I’ve already asked our Regional Recreation Coordinator to look into how this could be implemented for our area. Aside from attending educational sessions, the conference provides a unique opportunity to bounce ideas off of other field professionals and see how they tackle an issue. One last story from the conference; I ran into the manager from Enfield, CT. Actually, we planned on meeting, we both worked together in Batavia, NY. I was the Asst. City Manager and he was the City Manager. I left Batavia for our Enfield and then 6 months later he left Batavia for Enfield, CT. We managers live in a small world. You may see me reference some new concept in the next few months, and more than likely it will be a result of the ICMA conference.
Next week is a trash/recycling pick-up week. Have a great week and enjoy Enfield. Thanks.