Partnership with Cisco makes Miami-Dade one of nation’s smartest counties

County CIO Angel Petisco's decision gives Miami-Dade a leg up

Angel Petisco, CIO, Miami-Dade County
Angel Petisco, CIO, Miami-Dade County

If it seems like Angel Petisco has his hands in all technology-related systems in Miami-Dade County, it’s because he does.

Petisco is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Miami-Dade County, a title he has held for the past six years. His civic IT expertise spans three decades. His first job with Miami-Dade County was in the data services division, helping modernize the County’s data center and upgrading the operating services. Petisco quickly moved up the ranks from unit manager, to division director, and then to IT department deputy director. When his predecessor Don Fleming retired, Petisco was the ideal candidate to replace him.

“For me, from the very beginning even until present day, my interest in technology has been about the art of the possible,” Petisco says. “How can we leverage this capability to do what we haven’t done before? That is what drove me to this field back then and what drives me today.”

Recently, Miami-Dade County has partnered with the San Jose, CA-based network equipment giant Cisco to help serve its technology needs. One reason this partnership has worked so well is because Petisco sees Cisco as not just another vendor, but an actual partner—through good times and bad.

For example, when Petisco had to upgrade the County’s legacy telephone systems, he didn’t have to request additional funding. Cisco helped him alleviate some of the cost by putting in a gateway that would aggregate traffic to their local carrier. It cost $800,000 to do this, but it saved the County $1.2 million by reducing outbound telephone line trunks going to the local carrier. Petisco was able to pass some of those savings along to some of his internal customers and use the original spend as a capital reinvestment fund. The fund allowed him to upgrade several telephone switches in County buildings, further reduce expenses, and improve the maintenance of the County’s telephone systems.

“The partnership with Cisco allows me to address the replacement of aging technology without asking for additional capital,” Petisco says. “In the case of replacing the telephone system, [the partnership] actually returned some of the money back.” Petisco anticipates this is only the beginning for successful projects that will result from the partnership.

Currently, Petisco is working with Cisco to help alleviate the County’s traffic congestion problem by encouraging public transportation. To make this option more appealing, the County provides free Wi-Fi Internet access on some of its light rail systems and rapid bus routes.

Another project currently forming from this partnership is the implementation of about 250 kiosks throughout the County and electronic signage on buses. Cisco will benefit from advertising what they’re developing, and the County will be able to provide free Internet access in the buses back to its network at no additional cost. It could provide the County with the ability to offer its web service to citizens on the bus, on the train, and 250 other proposed locations.

“It gives us the ability to reach out in new ways we haven’t been able to thus far, mostly because of budget constraints,” Petisco explains. The partnership intends to allow Cisco to expand their marketing capability and Miami-Dade to reach a larger citizen base. “This type of change does not get done at a transaction vendor level; that’s something you do at a partnership level,” says Petisco.

Outside of its Cisco partnership, Petisco has been able to help the County’s Parks Department from having to suffer a $1 million funding reduction by implementing smart data and analytics. The reduction would have cut summer programs for children. However, after a detailed analysis, he was able to identify that the Parks Department’s water consumption was too high by approximately $5 million annually, and sensors were used to detect leaks at a faster pace. Those analytics, combined with smart planning, helped the Parks Department save 20 percent of their annual water consumption, which translated into the $1 million it needed to keep summer programs going.

As for the future of technology usage in Miami-Dade County, Petisco sees it expanding to areas that are underfunded, like social services programs. Advanced analytics could help to develop cost-effective programs for residents, such as client profile management and benefits distribution. Other goals include improving tracking and responding more quickly to complaints like late trash pick-ups.

“[IT] is an opportunity-rich environment,” Petisco says. “You have the ability of working alongside folks that can make a fundamental difference in the way the County delivers services to its residents and the way technology enables the departments to provide those services to the residents. At the end of the day, it’s a very powerful and comforting feeling that you’ve made a difference.”