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Digital Update: strategic planning, agile, and ad-blocking

Posted on January 25, 2019

Strategic Planning Sessions

What’s our purpose? Why do we exist? Our management team is getting super existential and has begun work on strategic planning for the future of our Department. We’ve started by focusing on building vision and values that will serve as a foundation of our goals in the years ahead.

Our vision is coming together with a strong emphasis on these evolving principles:

  • Be open, transparent, and engaging
  • Create services designed for people
  • Build scalable and secure infrastructure
  • Promote change that is outcomes and impact driven

After working through our goals and strategies with our team next, we are then planning an open process to encourage feedback from other departments, the community and, of course, Marin’s finest City Council.

But don’t wait for us to ask, we are always open to your ideas and feedback.

All-Hands Meeting Recap

On Thursday, we held our monthly all-hands meeting. We covered updates regarding mail and print services, network performance, support tickets, and strategic planning. We also had a guest speaker, Tony Fortenberry talk about agile project management and digital service delivery. Some of the key takeaways from Tony’s talk include:

  • It takes a village! A strong digital service culture requires buy-in, alignment, and involvement of the executive level, the budget, oversight, procurement, legal, project management, technical team, and your users.
  • To embrace a digital services culture – focus on empowerment, collaboration and products.
  • Build services with users, not for them. Practice human-centered design and continuous participation.
  • Small is the new big. Focus on a roadmap and capabilities, rather than a schedule and requirements. Spread out the risk by working in an agile, modular, and iterative way to avoid surprises at the end.
  • Default to open. Public organizations should create public goods. Leverage open source and open standards and always store public data in non-proprietary formats.
  • Don’t get distracted! Create time and space to focus on what really matters and get the work done.

For a fuller recap and links to the slide decks, check out our latest blog post.

Learning Lab 2.0 Update

Last November, five cross-departmental teams presented their ideas for challenges related to reducing fire threats from homeless encampments, creating a positive workplace culture, reimagining employee evaluations, increasing community engagement in the Canal neighborhood, and helping employees understand and navigate regulations.

The next step is turning those ideas into action! Over the coming months, we will be working to assemble implementation teams, so stay tuned for opportunities to get involved in these efforts.

We will also be working with the Continuous Learning Working Group to shape Learning Lab 3.0 based on the feedback we learned during the last round. Want to help? Join us!

Blocking one advertisement at a time

For the past two years, we have been blocking online advertisements on the city computer network, bringing the Internet experience back to its glory days of the 90s.  By reducing our digital footprint, we’re minimizing the risk of attack from malicious intents.


What do the numbers mean? The graph above shows that in the past 24 hours we’ve had over 630K queries on our network. A query is when a user (like you) visits a website. Some websites include multiple queries (typically from advertisers). Each week, this tool builds a ‘blocklist’ based on anti-malware, anti-virus, and domain abuse listing information. This results in certain websites being blocked by our firewall and you may encounter an error message like this:

site can't be reached

If our firewall is blocking a site you need to access, please open a support ticket so we can look into it. This tool helps protect us, but it is not enough to protect our computer network from all malicious intents.  We need your help. You are the best scanner we have. Period. Avoid visiting unknown websites or downloading software from untrusted sources. These sites often host malware that will automatically, and often silently, compromise your computer. If attachments or links in email are unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it.

Plan Ahead for Next Fiscal Year’s Technology Projects

With next year’s budget around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about how we all can plan for upcoming technology projects. If your department is considering the adoption of new software or online service, we encourage you to bring us onboard early in the process to ensure success.

We are currently developing a new process to guide departments through technology selection and implementation but in the meantime you can get started by filling out this simple form.

Please let us know about your upcoming FY 19-20 projects the best you can by the end of January.

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