To many of its residents, Salt Lake City is considered a paradise. It has beautiful mountain ranges, a thriving culinary scene and close proximity to pristine skiing spots. And the secret is starting to get out – Utah has the third fastest growing population in the nation.
With that growth comes challenges. Even though Salt Lake may not be the country’s largest city, they experience many of the same issues. The need to modernize and adapt to the growing technological needs and infrastructure demands of their citizens has been a top priority for the city’s leadership.
Aaron Bentley is the chief technology officer for Salt Lake City. Here is what he had to say about how CentralSquare Technologies Finance Enterprise software solution became the backbone for Salt Lake City, helping them to not only track department finances, but also to help track all of their city-wide growth initiatives.
On building new airports
“If you fly into Salt Lake City right now, you’ll see a large rebuild of our airport,” said Bentley. The Salt Lake City International Airport served 24 million passengers in 2018 and is ambitious in its growth plan. Approaching a total cost of $3.6 billion, the Salt Lake City International Airport rebuild is one of the largest construction projects in state history. Keeping track of all the expenditures could be chaotic, even for the best of them – but not for Salt Lake City.
“All of the funds, all of the contracting and all of the transactions related to that rebuild are all going through the CentralSquare system,” said Bentley. “It’s at the heart of what makes this city work. It’s really how we procure, pay our employees – everything about it runs through that software.”
On paving new roads
“Our road conditions in Salt Lake City were deteriorating, just as much of the infrastructure in the United States has over time,” noted Bentley. Roads were in such dire condition due to the Utah winters and constant use, that two thirds were rated as being in poor or worse condition. In fact, the city received 263 mobile app requests to fix potholes in the first six months of 2018.
Using the power of data generated by the software, the city was able to create reports to leverage that communication out to the citizens. “Ten years ago, when it came to analytic reports, they were written by IT. Today, it has completely changed. We don’t write reports anymore. We provide data to the citizens and the staff who develop their own dashboards and reports. The department in charge of street maintenance used the data to tell a story of the road conditions. The citizens decided they wanted to spend the money and bonded for increased roads.”
On population growth
“The population growth during the day is a huge challenge because we have to provide public safety as if we were a city of 400,000 with a tax base of 200,000,” said Bentley. Part of that is due to much of the land being non-taxable because of large non-profits and multitude of government entities from the federal level all the way down to the local level. In addition, many non-residents come into Salt Lake City during the day or during peak tourism times.
“Our job is to be facilitators in the technology as it moves forward and as cities become smarter and the citizens become more engaged. Our job in the IT department is that we make technology the backbone of the experience for our citizens, our employees and those who visit the city. Overall, the Finance Enterprise solution has been a great success and wonderful time-savings on our team and support staff.”