Lafayette Implements Smart City technology to create Engagement, Transparency and Efficiency

To promote efficient, effective government that emphasizes citizen engagement, better customer service, and a more connected community, the City of Lafayette, Louisiana, adopted a solution built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Azure that interoperates with tools such as Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Power BI, and the city’s telephony systems. The city is deploying a 311 call center for non-emergencies and has created a roadmap for about 10 more critical projects that will rely on Microsoft solutions. 

With our solutions based on Dynamics 365, Lafayette is becoming more efficient and more transparent, and we’re better able to provide the services to citizens and enhance their quality of life.

 

Joel Robideaux: Mayor-President

City of Lafayette

Lafayette, Louisiana, is at the intersection of culture and technology. Arts and music and the distinct Creole and Cajun history complement innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit. For example, LUS Fiber, the community-owned, 100 percent fiber optic infrastructure, provides the city’s 130,000 residents with super-fast home internet. The city’s educational system advocates science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) programs. “For more than 100 years, we have sought to be at the cutting edge of technology,” says Kate Durio, Assistant to the Mayor-President of Lafayette. “What began more than a century ago as a city where oil companies pursued better drilling methods is now a center of technology. We produce patents and Grammy nominees.”

Smart strategies for smart cities 

The City of Lafayette, Louisiana wanted to provide better citizen services through technology, but it needed help creating a strategic plan to bring its idea to life. So, about a year before its decision to implement a solution based on Dynamics 365, Microsoft Partner Network member KPMG Adoxio analyzed the city’s strategy to make sure that it supported the city’s initial vision. “It's really easy for city departments to work in silos and get stuck in the weeds with their own department’s priorities. We needed to take a holistic approach to get the city moving forward in a collaborative way,” adds Kayla Miles, Business Administrator for LUS Fiber in the City of Lafayette. 

Given its technological focus, it’s no surprise that Lafayette is undertaking initiatives to become a smart city. There are many descriptions of that term, but Mayor-President Joel Robideaux summarizes what it means for his city: “Lafayette is a place where government, businesses, and citizens all to come together to improve our quality of life. Microsoft technology is part of what is making that possible.” 

To realize this vision, Lafayette had to choose smart technology and a smart partner. The city’s first initiative was to develop a strategic roadmap, working with KPMG Adoxio, which has overwhelming experience in digital transformation projects. “We were fortunate to have bold leadership when it comes to taking a traditional city and moving it toward a next-generation, great US city,” says Miles. “Identifying IT assets that we already have and can build upon was a primary concern. The collaboration with the city was necessary for its success.”

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The evolving strategic roadmap defined the move to a smart city for the long term. It is comprehensive and will be implemented over the next few years. These initiatives include improvements in and better oversight of: economic development, education, energy and water, government operations, health, public safety, property, telecommunications, transportation, communications, technology platforms, human capital, and overall government performance. Because it’s a long list, the city developed three pillars that encompass the initiatives and use them as a guideline to demonstrate success as soon as possible: citizen engagement, better customer service for citizens, and continuing plans to promote a connected community. Lafayette wanted to implement a technology platform that would offer results in a matter of months but be flexible enough to deploy advanced functionality as needed over time. 

The city decided to focus on citizen engagement first. Specifically, Lafayette chose the Velocity 365 solution from KPMG Adoxio, which is built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Azure. The city’s IT partner explained that Lafayette would need a connected and dynamic end-to-end platform ranging from citizen needs to comprehensive government workflows, and Velocity 365 technology was perfect for that. 

Many of these capabilities are future-looking, but citizens want to see quick payoff. As an example of the wide and successful scope of the city’s plans, consider its 311 system, which is currently in a deployment phase. Callers within Lafayette Parish will soon be able to conveniently dial 311 to get quick response to non-emergency services, such as reporting potholes, damage to city property, and drainage issues, along with questions about environmental concerns and government programs. Many such tasks would previously have required long wait times on the phone and difficulty connecting with the right city employee or department. Velocity 365 connects to the city’s computer telephony integration system providing the call center with a knowledge base at its fingertips. “Our digital 311 service is designed on Dynamics 365 to directly support citizen engagement and government transparency,” says Cydra Wingerter, Chief Communications Officer for Lafayette Consolidated Government. “That’s exactly what we want for citizen engagement.” 

“It’s multipronged and a gradual step-by-step approach—it’s not all in place yet, but to us as city employees, it seems to be moving so fast,” says Wingerter. “We’re increasing our efficiency and transparency and working to provide the services to citizens that enhance their quality of life. And internally, we’re able to discover efficiencies and streamlined workflows—and all this is before full deployment of most of our solutions.” 

The goal of excellence in transportation is also a priority. “We have some cutting-edge plans for community-wide transportation improvements through smart sensors and better storm management, for example,” Durio adds. She explains why this initiative is so important: “In Lafayette Parrish, 27 percent of average household income goes to housing, and 25 percent goes toward transportation costs. Upgrading our transportation system isn’t just a matter of efficiency, it helps improve lives.” A more immediate concern is how the city manages transportation for its five-day Festival International de Louisiane, with its nearly 400,000 visitors (versus 130,000 residents). “That’s definitely an area where we’re taking an approach that makes full use of our technology.” 

Acknowledging that many of these projects are either partially underway or still in the planning phase, Miles concludes, “We’ve touched on only a little of what we will be able to do. Our initiatives are a real game-changer for how we connect with our citizens. As Mayor-President Robideaux put it, ‘The potential has always been there, but, it’s time to take advantage of technology that promotes our people and our culture.’”

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This article can also be found on the Microsoft STories website http://customers.microsoft.com/en-us/story/city-of-lafayette-government-dynamics-365