Santa Monica has earned itself a spot as the top digital mid-sized city in the nation, according to a 2007 Digital Cities Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government.

Each year, hundreds of cities participate in the digital survey, which is open to all U.S. cities with populations of over 30,000.

Out of the mid-level cities — which include populations of 75,000 to 124,999 — Santa Monica placed first in the nation in the digital arena.

“We’re all quite excited about it,” said Cori Newlander, help desk coordinator for the city’s Information Systems Department. “It’s really quite an honor. We work really hard to keep our technology on the forefront.”

To put it simply, a digital city is “a city that has fully embraced using digital technology to connect their citizens with their government,” said Janet Grenslitt, director of surveys and award pro- grams for the Center for Digital Government.

And Santa Monica has done just that.

“This award is well deserved,” says City of Santa Monica chief information officer Jory Wolf. “The depth and breadth of digital technology that we bring to bear on the delivery of public services and information in Santa Monica is extraordinary.”

There are several benchmarks that the cities are rated on in the digital study. These areas include cutting-edge technology, good governance, implementation and adoption of online service delivery, infrastructure standards, architectural components and planning.

The digital survey examines “how cities are using technology to create a seamless environment between local government and constituents,” said officials at The Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.

Some of the questions that were asked in the 26-question 2007 Digital Cities Survey included questions about whether or not citizens have the ability to pay for parking tickets, traffic citations, utility bills and parks and recreation services online.

A few of the things that contributed to Santa Monica’s first-place ranking as a top digital city include the city’s traffic signal synchronization, real-time parking advisory signs and Web site, parking meter cards, the ability for citizens to use credit cards in some parking structures, parking structure camera systems, the city’s A.M.-band parking radio station and the its fiber-optic and wireless communication system.

“That is awesome stuff,” says Grenslitt. “Parking and traffic are major problems in Santa Monica. And they’re using technology in a lot of ways to improve mobility.”

In addition to Santa Monica, Aurora, Colorado was ranked the top digital city with a population of 250,000 or more; Lincoln, Nebraska was ranked the top digital city with a population between 125,000 and 249,999; and Jupiter, Florida was ranked the top digital city with a population between 30,000 and 74,999.

“It’s a very big deal,” Grenslitt says of receiving the honor.

Cathilea Robinett, executive director for the Center for Digital Government, agrees.

“This first place win shows Santa Monica’s commitment to building a world-class digital community,” Robinett says. “Their technology accomplishments are both cutting-edge and effective.

“The city needs to be commended for the high level of citizen service.”

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