Just like the ’80s blockbuster hit movie, Back to the Future, Cook County is looking back in time to see what it needs to progress forward. Currently, the technology serving the millions of county residents is, literally, trapped in time. And, while the rest of the world marches forward in the information age to cloud computing, and the next generation of technology, Cook County’s information management system is older than some of the people working in its offices.
Money, bureaucracy, and investments in systems that have become obsolete are at the heart of the Cook County’s technology shortfall. Earlier this month, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiled her 2013 budget. With tax revenues down, and county expenses on the rise, Preckwinkle is calling for deep cuts in spending and dozens of layoffs to close a more than $267 million deficit. Amid the cuts, Preckwinkle is also trying to modernize the county’s information systems.
Last week, at the Technology Innovation Summit held at Northern Trust Headquarters in downtown Chicago, Cook County’s new chief information officer, Lydia Murray, revealed the depth of the county’s technology gap. She says that, while iPhones and other smart devices are the norm for professionals and consumers, County workers still carry outdated Blackberrys.