Connecting Communities

Michele HovetMichele Hovet is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts in local innovation. 


I believe working for the government is a calling to work for the greater good, and I’m proud to say that I love my job. Each day gives me an opportunity to do great things that extend beyond my immediate experience. And the power of technology magnifies this work. Technology is a catalyst for innovation. Innovation helps connect our communities. Mobile apps, freely-available data, and open-source technology all play a role. I have been fortunate to work for the City of Arvada, a cutting-edge city in Colorado. Because of the city culture and the leadership of our Mayor, Council and City Manager, we have a high performing organization. We hire the right people to focus on the citizen experience by, as our mission statement says, “Continuing to Build a Great Community.”

Technology has enabled three important projects in Colorado. First, shared services around open source software; second, putting arts back in the class room through tablets and apps; and third, enabling transparency through a shared data repository.

It is important to provide quality services to our citizens. Our open source web content management system (CMS) called Xpress CMS, designed by staff, is cutting edge. It is sharable, flexible, social, transparent, secure, and scalable. Genius is born in the spirit of collaboration. Two minds are better than one, right? Why not utilize governments’ collective wisdom via shared technologies to provide a flexible platform that actually creates efficiencies, reduces red tape and fosters creativity for the greater good. Our goal is to expand the use of XPRESS CMS across the U.S. Get it in the hands of those that need it and those that can enhance it.  Boulder, Colorado is Arvada’s first partner, and plans to go live early in 2013 on the Xpress CMS platform. One of the founding Xpress CMS designers, Sean Hudson, is traveling with me to the White House.

But how else can we make a difference with technology? We started by focusing on the kids. The City of Arvada is working with the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities to infuse digital, tailor-made, and multi-disciplinary arts into classrooms by using XPRESS CMS with Digital Distance Education Services of Colorado (Digital DESC—pronounced desk). Digital DESC aims to increase access to arts opportunities for students.  It promotes partnerships among educators, arts institutions and technology providers. The XPRESS CMS architecture will create a foundation for Digital DESC to deliver an online, standards-based art curriculum to multiple schools while empowering teachers with new technology such as tablets and apps. Our goal is to turn the school’s focus of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into STEAM, by including the arts.

We also focus on other shared services in Colorado. We founded OpenColorado as a community asset for all local government data in Colorado. We are helping make government data (like geospatial, crime, and transit data) accessible to the public. The main resource for this effort is the OpenColorado data catalog that allows anyone to index open data and make it searchable. In addition, the technology we use allows governments and community organizations to publish their data on their own website. Thus, creating two access points to the data and unleashing the potential of this community resource. We are hosting, organizing, and partnering with others to educate people on what is possible in the government space and to help anyone realize the new possibility of a government that is simple and easy-to-use. Our flagship event is CityCamp Colorado, which is an “un-conference“ devoted to helping government and community leaders bring about an improved government. In addition, we have partnered with PlaceMatters to organize Code for Communities, a civic hacking event to help create solutions and applications to help peoples live.

With technology and innovative public servants, anything is possible.

Michele Hovet is the Deputy City Manager for the City of Arvada, Colorado

Your Federal Tax Receipt