How Santa Monica’s “Digital City Hall” Helped It Steer Through the Pandemic

Many local governments were caught flat-footed by the shift to remote work during the coronavirus pandemic. One sterling exception was the City of Santa Monica, which had been upgrading and digitizing operations for several years.

Santa Monica wasn’t always a leader in digital governance. As Smart Cities Dive reports, the city’s technology was lagging when Chief Information Officer Joseph Cevetello took over in 2016. Contracts were all on paper and there was no wifi or telecommuting policy to speak of. Then Cevetello implemented the Strategic Technology Plan with the goal of creating a "Digital City Hall." One of the primary goals was to enable staff “to work from anywhere, anytime,” Cevetello told Smart Cities.

Needless to say, those efforts paid off when social distancing became the norm in 2020. Santa Monica’s economy suffered immensely from revenue losses and the city was forced to slash its workforce. But one thing it didn’t have to contend with was creating a telecommuting process on the fly.

When the pandemic hit, “we were very productive and kept the city running with a reduction in workforce,” Cevetello said.

Even with the state’s reopening, remote work is clearly going to remain a bigger part of life than ever before. In that respect, Santa Monica is ahead of the curve.

Read more about Santa Monica’s “Digital City Hall” and how it helped the city weather some of the pandemic’s greatest challenges.


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