America’s Cup Brings IT Excitement to San Francisco
After ORACLE Racing won the world’s oldest trophy in sports—the
America’s Cup—in 2010, team founder,
owner, and afterguard Larry Ellison suggested that he would like to stage the
next race in San Francisco, California.
Indeed, the 34th America’s Cup will be
coming to the City by the Bay in 2013.
The news, no doubt, will excite sailing
fans. And it’s surprisingly good news
for city CTO Gina Tomlinson.
“For technologists, it’s really excit-
ing,” she says. “We in the Department
of Technology and many of our other
city agencies across the city see this as
an opportunity to show our wares.”
What she needs to do, technologi-
cally, is to support throngs of interna-
tional visitors, the US$1 billion in
economic activity, and the equivalent
of more than 8,000 jobs expected to be
generated by the event.
generate revenue out of those sites.
PROFIT: Does that reflect the tech-literate population of San
Francisco? How do you formulate your IT strategy with them
TOMLINSON: Absolutely. By some accounts, San Francisco
is the number one social-networking city in the country. San
Francisco is a very mobile city. Mobility is critical to a lot of
citizens here. We needed to ensure that many of the services
people utilize every day—city hall, the library, and other city
agencies—are made available online.
To do that, we need to develop a robust infrastructure
to port current “in-person” types of transactions to online
transactions and decrease a lot of paper and process we have
today. So we knew we had to lay the foundation by developing and building a strong core datacenter to enable these
We now have that core datacenter, and we have the core
foundation. We can do things like increasing access to online
forms and services. So, we’ve really set ourselves up with a
framework to build on, and we did that at the behest of many
of our citizens here in the city. They wanted more availability
and accessibility of services online, and we’re beginning to do
that. This is a huge first step for us.
PROFIT: How has the recession and budget crunch impacted
the way you run your organization?
TOMLINSON: Certainly in the past three or four years, the
recession has driven many changes in strategy and process. I
think innovation and productivity comes from strife and hard
times. When we have to be more focused, more stringent, and
more disciplined, we find more-creative ways to do things. This
is one of those times.
In San Francisco—which has a very socially and politically
conscious citizen base—citizens want to see where and how
their taxpayer money is being spent. They don’t sometimes
mind spending the money, as long as they see a return on that
investment. So we really need to make sure that we are doing
the right things and have tangible evidence of how we’re using
their funds. I feel strongly about that.
AARON LAZENBY is the editor in chief of Profit.
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