Connected Nation

On the road: 2024 Govtech Digital Government Summit (Part 2)

June 11, 2024 Jessica Denson Season 5 Episode 20
On the road: 2024 Govtech Digital Government Summit (Part 2)
Connected Nation
More Info
Connected Nation
On the road: 2024 Govtech Digital Government Summit (Part 2)
Jun 11, 2024 Season 5 Episode 20
Jessica Denson

The Connected Nation Podcast checking back in from Lexington, Kentucky at the 2024 Govtech Digital Government Summit. In today's second episode, Jessica Denson welcomes on a Editorial Director for Content Spaces for Govtech, a GIS Analyst with TechSystems, and the IT Director for the Louisville Metro Government.

Check out our socials this week to listen to parts 1 and 3 of the Digital Government Summit podcast coverage!

Part 1 - click here
Part 3 - click here

Recommended Links:
Zach Patton's LinkedIn
GovernmentTechnology (GovTech) -
Emily Bartee's LinkedIn
Chris Seidt's LinkedIn
Louisville Metro Government -

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The Connected Nation Podcast checking back in from Lexington, Kentucky at the 2024 Govtech Digital Government Summit. In today's second episode, Jessica Denson welcomes on a Editorial Director for Content Spaces for Govtech, a GIS Analyst with TechSystems, and the IT Director for the Louisville Metro Government.

Check out our socials this week to listen to parts 1 and 3 of the Digital Government Summit podcast coverage!

Part 1 - click here
Part 3 - click here

Recommended Links:
Zach Patton's LinkedIn
GovernmentTechnology (GovTech) -
Emily Bartee's LinkedIn
Chris Seidt's LinkedIn
Louisville Metro Government -

Jessica Denson (00:08):

This is Connected Nation, an award-winning podcast focused on all things broadband from closing the digital divide to improving your internet speeds with talk technology topics, and impact all of us, our families, and our neighborhoods. On this episode, we continue our coverage from the Digital Government Summit taking place in Lexington, Kentucky. On this episode, we talk with the editorial director for the content studios at govtech. We also talk with a GIS analyst about working with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and with the director of IT for Louisville Metro Government. I'm Jessica Desen, and this is Connected Nation. I am at the Kentucky Digital Government Summit held in Lexington, Kentucky, and it's wrapping up or getting close to wrapping up. Govtech is hosting this event and I am sitting with Zach Patton, who's editorial director for the content studios at Govtech. Welcome, Zach. Hi. Hi. Thank you for doing this. I really appreciate you double appreciate you. I talked to you earlier and I asked you if you'd do this again for me. How are things going today?

Zach Patton (01:11):

It's been great. It's been a really great event. It's good to hear what's kind of top of mind for the folks in Kentucky and how that kind of fits in with what we're hearing from state and local technology leaders across the country.

Jessica Denson (01:24):

I just listened to part of the AI conversation that was just having the presentation. It was really interesting to see the different uses for AI from knowledge base to interaction with audience to all kinds of things. What are some things that are either surprising or interesting to you about the AI conversation right now?

Zach Patton (01:43):

I mean, the speed that this conversation is happening and the speed with which it's changing is really just unparalleled. I mean, people sort of compare it to the rise of the internet in the nineties, but it's so much faster even than that and so much more transformative potentially even than that. And so, yeah, when you think about the different use cases both for government, whether that's internally with kind of optimizing government processes and service delivery, but then also on the constituent facing side, how can government really use AI to deliver better services and deliver them better and faster and cheaper for the constituents that they serve? It's really exciting.

Jessica Denson (02:21):

So talk a little bit about what these types of events are, and it's not just Kentucky that's having these kinds of summits, right? Sure,

Zach Patton (02:28):

Yeah. Yeah. So we do these digital government summits, don't quote me, but something like 30 different states. And we also do in larger cities, we do special events for those. But then we do a range of different events where we're just out getting state and local IT leaders together to talk about, again, the issues that are most top of mind for them, the biggest challenges they have. Sometimes we do events organized like this where they're around a specific jurisdiction, whether it's the state of Kentucky. Other times do events that are organized around different topic areas, whether that's using data in health and human services or using technology to optimize transportation planning. So kind of a range of different ways to talk about public sector.

Jessica Denson (03:16):

IT happening behind you right now is a bit of a networking event, and how important is it to really cross pollinate the knowledge in all these

Zach Patton (03:25):

Areas? I mean, I say this a lot, I shouldn't say this, but I think sometimes we could just program a blank day because the really important thing is just for to get folks in the room talking to each other. And for government employees especially, it's so hard sometimes for them to be able to take time to step back from their day to day, so much to do all the time, but be able to take a day and interact and really talk at a higher level about some of these bigger, more foundational challenges that they have and different solutions that they're seeing. So yeah, the networking is a really, really important part of it, if not the most important part.

Jessica Denson (04:04):

So govtech, there's a lot of different things that govtech does. It has the website, it has the events. Talk a little bit overall about tech's approach to these types of things and what your love in that space is.

Zach Patton (04:17):

Sure. So this is our 40th anniversary year, and we've grown a lot in that time. I have not been here for all those 40 years, but I've been here for a good chunk of it. I started on our side, we publish two large publications, government technology, and then governing, which governing is a media platform that focuses more on the politics and policy in state and local government. Government technology of course, really focuses on IT and technology innovations. So yeah, we publish those two different publications. We have something like 120, 130 events a year. Everything from these really large scale statewide digital government summits down to we convened round table discussions of real key players in state and local IT that I'm doing one tomorrow, I think it's going to be 10 folks that are really kind of focused on this in the state of Pennsylvania. So it's a great way for us to hear about these issues that matter most to people. But yeah, it's the news coverage that we have on our site. It's really working directly with state and local governments and with the industry partners that they partner with for their technology needs.

Jessica Denson (05:34):

As editorial director, what is your approach to telling these stories and making sure that you're at the forefront of this? Is it really these events? Are they key to that?

Zach Patton (05:43):

Yeah, very much so. We have our editorial side of the house, the government technology magazine folks, the governing magazine folks. I as the editorial director for the content studio. I get to work on more special projects and projects that are tied specifically with particular vendors that do work in this space. So yeah, it is really about having events like this and listening to what folks are focused on and what their needs are. Also, it's a chance for us to put our knowledge out there. We do a lot of research through our Center for Digital Government, center for Public Sector ai. It's a chance for us to talk about what we've seen and what we are continuing to see as we have these conversations.

Jessica Denson (06:28):

And you have some fellows,

Zach Patton (06:30):

We have a lot of senior fellows, whether they're attached more to our Center for Digital Government. We have a kind of corresponding governing institute. So some of those more policy level folks, I'd have to check, but we have a few dozen senior fellows at this point. Those are all former, former public sector IT leaders that form kind of just a really good working group, sort of a think tank for us, again, to help make sure that we're plugged into the right issues and kind of having these conversations the right way.

Jessica Denson (07:03):

Other than ai, is there anything you're really excited about that you're seeing emerge from the technology side?

Zach Patton (07:09):

Yeah, I think one thing that, and we've talked about this a lot at the event today, is digital equity, which we kind of talk about ad nauseum sometimes, but it is so important, and I know that's something that you all are so focused on too. We care about it that of course rose to a new level of prominence because of the covid pandemic. That has really changed the way that the governments approach a lot of technology is this new understanding of digital equity and a new understanding, not just of what the digital divide looks like, that it's not just an urban rural divide, that it's a lot more complicated and a lot more nuanced than that, but also that the solutions need to be a lot more comprehensive as well. And it's not just about plugging somebody into the internet or just making sure that they have a computer or a phone. It's making sure they have the right skills, the right digital literacy to access these programs and to participate in the economy, to participate in democracy, all the things that we need to do as active members of society. All that has to be digitally enabled now. And so it's exciting to see that conversation really mature.

Jessica Denson (08:18):

So if somebody wanted to take part in one of these summits or even try to set one up, what should they do?

Zach Patton (08:24):

Yeah, they can reach out to us at government technology. We're happy. What I think sets us apart, we hope with some of these events is that we really do partner with the state governments or the local governments or the whatever jurisdiction to make sure that we are telling the right story in this today's case for the state of Kentucky. So we work with local folks that are involved in public sector IT to make sure that we are crafting the right conversation, crafting the right day of an event for them. So yeah, reach out to us. We'd love to work with you.

Jessica Denson (08:59):

Well, it's the end of the day and there's still a lot of people here, so I think you've got them

Zach Patton (09:02):

Engaged. Well, I smelled some barbecue here. I'm sure that had something to do with it.

Jessica Denson (09:07):

Well, thank you so much, Zach Patton,

Zach Patton (09:09):

I really appreciate. Thank you so much. Take care.

Jessica Denson (09:11):

I am standing in the hallway of the Hyatt Regency in Lexington, Kentucky, and we are still here at the Digital Government Summit, which is being hosted by govtech. And I have run into Emily Barty. She is the GIS Business analyst at Quantum. And she works with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, correct?

Emily Bartee (09:30):


Jessica Denson (09:31):

So talk a little bit about what GIS business analyst is.

Emily Bartee (09:35):

Absolutely. So for GIS, the kind of key component there is spatial. So as a business analyst, it's kind of my job to be able to look at problems spatially and kind of translate that into what solution we need to make for our customer to keep them congruent with the way society's going, with the way trends are going, with the way technology's going. And what's kind of the most efficient way to do that?

Jessica Denson (09:55):

Is that what Quantum does overall, GIS services?

Emily Bartee (10:00):

So Quantum is actually a contractor that is employed by the state of Kentucky. So I work, and my name tag is actually a little bit wrong. I work now for tech systems, but they're a contractor that the transportation cabinet employs to get outside resources.

Jessica Denson (10:16):

Why do you think it's important for GIS business analysts or GIS to be part of the technology conversation when it comes to transportation?

Emily Bartee (10:24):

Absolutely. Great question. So as time goes on and technology changes, things advance, there's an incredible importance placed on the spatial aspects. So where are our assets? Where are things going? How do we inspect them? How often do we inspect them? So GIS kind of spatially enables a lot of the current workflows and processes that are happening natively in the transportation cabinet. And it's important to kind of tie that back to we don't live and operate in a silo, so we have to stay connected with other organizations, other agencies, how do we talk to each other? And again, just what's the most efficient way to do something. And that is a great benefit that we get from coming to this conference because we get to see how other state agencies do things and what are the concerns and what are the lessons learned within the state.

Jessica Denson (11:15):

I know we're just midway through the day, so I know there's still a lot more to come still, but so far have you been excited to hear or that's been interesting to you?

Emily Bartee (11:23):

Yeah, absolutely. So I think one of the most exciting things to hear is what other places are doing? What are their concerns? Like I said before, what are their best practices? What are the lessons learned? So far we've been able to hear some on ai, artificial intelligence, and what are the concerns of that? What do we need to think moving forward? What do we need to plan for? And I think that's one things that this single day conference is great at because it gives us an avenue to kind of see, okay, what are we considering? Maybe what are we not considering? So all of these sessions kind of give you a glimpse of what do I need to think of about that specific component? What do I need to think of about electronic records? What do I need to think of about ai? What do I need to think of when it comes terms to continuity of operations and kind of disaster recovery planning? And

Jessica Denson (12:10):

Why do you do GIS? Do you just love it?

Emily Bartee (12:13):

I love it. I'm a total spatial nerd. We coined the term spatially special, so I'm a very visual person. And so GIS gives kind of that spatial representation of where something is, and also it's a tool. So it's not that I'm just doing GIS on roadways, I get to hear about environmental components, I get to hear about other state agencies and architectural things and just everything. So it's fun.

Jessica Denson (12:40):

Alright, Emily, thank you so much for spending time with me.

Emily Bartee (12:43):

Yeah, you are more than welcome, Jessica. Thank you.

Jessica Denson (12:45):

I am outside of the Regency Ballroom three, which is in the Hyatt Regency, which is part of the Digital Government Summit, which is being hosted by Govtech in Lexington, Kentucky. And I have run into Chris site who is the director of IT for Louisville Metro Government. And for those who are not from Kentucky, that's just right down the road. I live in Louisville as well. And so I kind of think Louisville's better than Lexington, but that's just between us and a few thousand listeners. But Chris, you did speak earlier. Talk a little bit about what the panel was that you were just on. Sure.

Chris Seidt (13:17):

Our panel was talking about the opportunities for folks to connect in professional groups and to build their peer networks and to try to find people to connect with that work in similar fields or work in fields that they might want to grow into. So we're sharing our experiences as far as IT leaders and kind of how we got to where we were at and imparting some knowledge on hopefully the audience and places that they can get connected.

Jessica Denson (13:38):

Yeah, finding a job now without having access or to the internet, oh, they're going crazy in the other room. Internet right now is pretty impossible, you think?

Chris Seidt (13:48):

It is definitely a barrier in terms of trying to make connections. I know the digital divide causes a good portion of the population to not be able to make those connections today. So being able to do those in-person events and meet with people and make those peer networks and just find somebody that might run into five years from now that might have that next opportunity for you.

Jessica Denson (14:07):

So as the director of IT for Louisville Metro Government, what are some challenges and opportunities that you have in that role?

Chris Seidt (14:14):

Well, the great opportunity for Louisville right now is that we're almost fully staffed. So the last couple of years have been really good for us in terms of getting staff retention levels to a good spot and making sure that we've got a full workforce that can deliver the things that we're being asked to do. With the evolution of AI and the new technologies that are emerging and cloud computing, we've really had to kind of change our approach to technology. And so it's been really great for us just kind of re-skilling folks and getting people into working into new jobs in IT so that they can help us to achieve our goals as an organization.

Jessica Denson (14:44):

Louisville Metro is, we just talked about, I was kidding about better than Lexington, but I do love the city and there are a lot of great things, a lot of new construction. There's a lot of the city's growing quickly. How do you handle that as that's growing so fast?

Chris Seidt (15:01):

So Louisville's had a lot of upward trajectory recently. We just recently had our hundred 50th Kentucky Derby, we had the PGA championship, we just had another banner weekend here last weekend with some larger events that were being held around the community that Louisville's really kind of found its landing spot as a destination for tourism and really, especially

Jessica Denson (15:22):

With bourbon,

Chris Seidt (15:23):

Especially with the bourbon tourism, that's been a really big theme for us and we're able to handle large crowds. And so we've kind of adapted our technology approach to that as well in terms of going into these events and being able to support our public safety partners that provide security around all those events and making sure that they've got the connectivity that they need out in the field and that they're able to access all the tools that they have available to 'em today. The job of our public safety officials is a lot different than it was maybe 15 years ago where everything was a paper form and they were writing on a clipboard. Everything's done in a computer now. So we've really had to kind of adapt to our approach over the last 15 years or so.

Jessica Denson (15:56):

And when you say some big events, it's hundreds of thousands of people, everything from Thunder over Louisville on for weeks and weeks and weeks, it doesn't end, right? So is that kind of a nightmare sometimes or is it fun for you?

Chris Seidt (16:09):

I think our staff has a lot of fun with it. So we're usually out setting up at Waterfront Park while the airshow practice is going on, making sure that all the networks are working properly for our staff that are going to be down there for the weekend. We get behind the scenes access at Churchill Downs in terms of getting people to go up and set up temporary cameras and things like that to help with crowd monitoring and just really gives people some unique job experiences that maybe a normal corporate IT environment might not provide for them if they're just working for a company that's just got 'em sitting at a cubicle. So our staff, I think, get to enjoy a lot of diverse work of being a city government. We have 41 different departments. Anything from working at the Louisville Zoo, Kentucky Science Center is an organization that we support. We have the Bella Louisville historic Steamboat, so our employees get to go experience all those things and provide support for the people that operate all those different organizations within the metro.

Jessica Denson (16:58):

That's a little bit of a sales pitch to come work for Louisville Metro.

Chris Seidt (17:01):

Yeah, I mean, that's got to be part of our opportunities. We're always trying to sell ourselves as an organization that people would want to come work for. We may not be able to pay what a private sector job pays, but we provide other, I think, opportunities for advancement and just experiences that I think a lot of organizations can't provide.

Jessica Denson (17:16):

So what do you see are some of the future jobs or jobs that will really be future proofed within this space, within technology and it,

Chris Seidt (17:24):

Wow, that's a tough question. AI is such an evolving technology right now that it's really difficult to say where it's going to be in two years. I think where we see the organization going is there are organizations in metro government that maybe aren't able to staff up fully. And so we're really thinking that automation and AI is going to help with things that are customer service facing. And it's not to displace employees, it's simply acknowledge and say, we haven't been always been able to fill these positions, and maybe we need to take a different approach for that in terms of technology and what we're doing to get ready for that and future proof ourself for that. Upskilling employees and new skills, working on those AI fundamentals courses, working on the cloud computing courses, because those legacy jobs that we had, I'll use an example. We've had telephone technician roles in our organization that date back to probably the beginning of the IT organization within the city. And so these are your traditional copper wire folks that we go into a telephone closet and punch down on a block. All those folks are retiring out of the organization. And we've got to evolve because now phone calls can all be made over the cloud, so we don't have to have punch down blocks in a closet for people to get dial tone and those types of things. I think we're just working to upskill people and change those roles to better align with the needs for today.

Jessica Denson (18:40):

And why did you decide that it was important to come today's summit?

Chris Seidt (18:44):

So this is a great opportunity to connect, not just with my peers, obviously a lot of people in my role are here, but also to brought my staff with me here. So they've got a lot of opportunities to connect, learn about new things. I've sit on the advisory board, so we were trying to make sure that the content was relevant. I'm really thrilled to see all these breakout sessions or standing room only at this point. So I think we kind of hit the nail on the head in terms of what we were aiming for folks, and I hope they're getting a meaningful message from these as they're going through the different breakout sessions.

Jessica Denson (19:12):

Well, I've been hearing good things, so thank you so much, Chris site, right, with Louisville Metro Government. That's it. Yep. On the next episode, we'll continue our coverage from the Digital Government Summit taking place in Lexington, Kentucky, hosted by govtech. I'm Jessica Sen. Thanks for listening to Connected Nation. If you like our show and want to know more about us, head to connected or look for the latest episodes on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Google Podcast, Pandora, or Spotify.


Zach Patton joins
Emily Bartee joins
Chris Seidt joins
Conclusion + Outro