W. Brian Hiatt has served as Concord's City Manager since 1998. He came to Concord from Hickory where he served as Assistant City Manager for over 10 years. Brian holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in History and Government Service from Appalachian State University where he was a summa cum laude graduate, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Active in the community, Brian is a Past President of the Academic Learning Center and continues to serve on that Board. He is on the Board of Directors for the Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation and the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County. He currently serves as Chairman of the Cabarrus County United Way, his second time serving in that role. Brian served as the Chair of the United Way Campaign in Cabarrus County in 2002. He is a Past-President of the Concord Rotary Club, where he was named Rotarian of the Year in 2012, and the Lake Hickory Rotary Club. He is also a former board member of Hospice of Cabarrus County. He is a Past President of the North Carolina City and County Management Association, having served as President in 2012-13, and has served on several committees supporting the International City and County Management Association. Brian was a member of the Board of Directors of the NC League of Municipalities from 2004 through 2008 and now serves on its General Government Legislative Action Committee. . Brian is married to Julie, and they have two grown children, Andrew and Erin.
Technology Enhancements Support Efficiency and Customer Service
Years ago, it was sometimes difficult for citizens to understand the benefit when local governments invested in technology. This was because the hardware or software being acquired was generally used to support internal processes such as payroll, finance, or work order systems.
We live in a much different environment today. Many of our customers want to communicate with their local government, access services, and pay bills in ways that are more convenient and similar to what is available from private businesses. The City of Concord is continuously working to meet this demand and incorporate cost-effective technology to enhance our services. At the same time, we are cautious when we implement new systems as there are always “bugs” to be worked out. There are horror stories out there where new systems have been rolled out before their time and the end users experience great frustration as they wait for the technology to be tweaked to make it work.
One improvement the public will see before the end of the year is the launch of the City’s new Concord Mobile Care
citizen access portal. City crews are already using tablets to identify yard waste and bulky waste materials for pick-up at residences on a weekly basis, and to access utility mapping that is essential to identifying locations onsite when sewers back up or water mains break. The portal will enable citizens to use tablets, smart phones, or laptops to report non-emergency service needs to the City. For example, if a citizen wants to report a pothole in a street, they can do so by providing the address, or can even use the camera on the device and its GPS capability to take a picture and establish a pinpoint location. Learn more about this convenient tool at concordnc.gov/concordmobilecare
In the past the City’s Geographic Information System data has generally been used to support the work in our infrastructure, public safety, and planning departments. The City's software now includes a feature that will eventually enable public access to non-sensitive information. The City is also in the process of upgrading software to provide more streamlined on-line applications for utility customers.
Business people and builders seeking to expand or bring new development to our community will benefit by the City’s purchase and implementation of Accela. This software not only enables users to track the progress of the City’s plan review process—it is already used by Cabarrus County. The County is working with the City as a partner to provide customers a more seamless experience as information from both jurisdictions can be submitted and available online at one location.
Other technologies are in development that will put more information in the hands of our utility customers so they can better manage their use of electricity and water. The City is exploring smart meter technology for both electric and water customers to track real time usage, similar to what wireless phone companies can provide on data and phone minutes used. The system offers other benefits for the customer. For example, during an electrical outage the City will instantly know when every customer lost power and will also know when that power is restored. On the water side, excessive usage such as caused by a leak will show up on the system as soon as it takes place, reducing the incidence of shock when a customer receives the bill after days or even weeks of a water leak or running toilet.
While smart meter implementation is in the near future, we all are benefitting from technology that has already been implemented, and some of it is not computer based. For example, earlier this year we took delivery of the new hybrid buses now used by the Rider Transit System. Thus far we are saving 43 percent on fuel consumption on the eight new buses. That translates into roughly $27,500 to $48,000 in fuel savings per quarter. The hybrid electric engine and all electric cooling systems work together to help the engine run cooler and quieter. They also require less annual maintenance and are helping to lower emissions by at least 25 percent.
Though the City is making good use of wireless technology for data connections, a system of fiber optic cable is required for high speed connections to equipment and over 40 City facilities such as fire stations, traffic signals, water and sewer pump stations, electric substations, the police headquarters, recreation centers, administrative offices, etc. The City has gradually developed a fiber system of over 60 miles to enable monitoring of critical equipment and infrastructure and to enhance communication between computer systems and City coworkers.
I join many of you in amazement over the rapid development of technology we are experiencing today. While we are somewhat methodical in implementation, the City of Concord certainly recognizes the need to continue deploy new technology in order to meet the expectations of our customers. We look forward to the enhanced convenience and efficiencies these tools offer to those doing business with our organization.