June 14, 2018
C-Suite Awards 2018

Roberts builds S. Windsor's IT office into regional hub

HBJ Photo | Steve Laschever
HBJ Photo | Steve Laschever

Scott Roberts

CATEGORY: CHIEF TECHNOLOGY/INFORMATION/SECURITY OFFICER

Assistant Town Manager/Chief Information Officer, Town of South Windsor

Size of organization: 224 employees

Highest education: University of New Haven, Master's degree in public administration

Previous job(s): Fuss & O'Neill Inc., Project Manager

Anyone who was familiar with the town of South Windsor's modest information-technology operation in 2004 may not recognize it today.

That's largely due to the work of Scott Roberts, South Windsor's chief information officer and assistant town manager.

There's a mobile app, PublicStuff, that allows residents to report and receive progress updates from local officials on potholes, roadkill and other problems. There's a government television station, G-Media. Town departments are connected by a fiber optic network that transfers data at 10 gigabits-per-second, and there's a more modern server. Under a recent regional agreement, the town's IT department also serves Tolland, Coventry and Andover.

Roberts reflects on how much has changed since he left his civil engineering consulting job in 2004 to take a position as South Windsor's data-processing manager.

"We were a small network at that time … under-financed, buried in the basement, the door no one knew what happened behind," Roberts said. "The position has evolved since I got here. Now I'm right there at sea level."

Though his role is technical in nature, Roberts views his work as a way to market and promote South Windsor, to attract new businesses and grow the tax base.

Always one to give credit where it's due, Roberts is quick to note that PublicStuff is the name of the software company that developed the app. However, Drew Guild, who works for Roberts in systems analysis and administration, said Roberts is too modest.

Guild said Roberts came up with the idea to create a dashboard and use geographic information system mapping to map the location of assets, infrastructure, manholes, sewer pipes and property lines years before PublicStuff even existed.

"This was internal, created from the ground up. Click on a map and say 'sightline issues,' and that automatically goes to public works. That was well ahead of all these other dashboards," Guild said. "He's always looking to move forward and driving us to become better at what we're doing. That's key in a CIO. He's there to run and build the organization. He's innovative, he's driven, and he passes that down to his staff as well."

"We've done some pretty cool things," Roberts concedes. "I guess I like to solve problems."

Guild says Roberts is "definitely the best boss that I've ever worked for."

"He's there for his employees," Guild said. "That's something that I've always been very impressed with."

Guild isn't Roberts' only admirer. The regional IT agreement Roberts brokered with surrounding communities earned South Windsor a 2017 CIO 100 Award from CIO magazine.

Roberts said communication between residents and government is a two-way street, and he is constantly trying to find ways to use the latest technology to get the conversation started.

"We're about to survey every resident online asking for feedback on their services," he said. "That will come back to us and help us figure out where our services are good and where they need improvement and where we offer services they feel aren't necessary."

Roberts envisions the day when South Windsor residents will be able to virtually connect with any member of town government the way people can now connect with doctors for assistance online. For him, that personal connection is all important.

"It's really exciting to see where we've come in the past 13 years and I'm kind of excited to see where we go in the next 10," says Roberts. "With the shrinking budgets, you have to do more with less. Technology is that tool to help us reach our constituents and to deliver the services they expect and want."

On the job

Guiding business principle: Honesty, integrity, innovation and empowerment

Best way to keep your competitive edge: Not being complacent.

Best business decision: Garnering support for a fiber network.

Worst business decision: Saying 'yes' too often.

Biggest missed opportunity: Buying stock in Amazon.

Goal yet to be achieved: Complete the fiber network to all town locations.

Personal touch in your office: Architectural drawing of Fenway Park.

Personal side:

Town of residence: Coventry

Favorite way to relax: Kayaking

Hobbies: Baseball, camping, kayaking, hiking and traveling

Last vacation: Aruba Marriot Surf Club

Favorite movie: "The Natural"

The car you drive: 2006 Chevy Silverado

Currently reading: "Thank You for Being Late," by Thomas L. Friedman; "Start With Why," by Simon Sinek

Favorite cause: Anything local

Second choice career: Real estate agent

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