Public sector NFTs? Yes, please!
One under-discussed aspect of the Miami tech movement is the local public sector’s work powering the digital systems that keep our city and county moving on a daily basis. While Mayor Suarez’s “How can I help” approach garnered his government international notoriety, there are groups of civil servants behind the scenes working to make Miami a hub for government innovation.
Ana Chammas is one of such people. For the better part of two decades, she has spearheaded innovation efforts for Miami-Dade County. A year after grad school (where she studied with former Miami CIO Michael Sarasti), Chammas landed a gig within the Miami-Dade County communications department to build MiamiDade.gov.
“We were building something that didn’t exist: government on the web,” Chammas told Refresh Miami. The goal? Create a digital knowledge base enabling citizen services through all channels.
After the successful launch of MiamiDade.gov, Chammas and team set out to create a 311 service. “It was a huge undertaking,” she said. Against the backdrop of new technology like iPhones, Chammas relished the opportunity to “grow GovTech to meet the demands of the private sector and consumer demands.”
She calls this an omnichannel experience, or “the Amazon services of government, using what we’ve learned from industry giants to move the needle on how governments can interact with residents and businesses to drive and amplify reach.”
Chammas believes in the importance of making government data more transparent and sharing this data with the general public. One illustrative example of the benefits of data sharing was property appraiser data. “That gave the real estate industry access to data that they couldn’t find through the MLS [multiple listing service],” she explained.
“In the early 2000s, no one believed in what we were doing,” Chammas explained, noting the skepticism about Web 2.0 at the time. Chammas drew parallels with how some people view Web3 today. In her role as GovTech Innovation Director, which she started last May, Chammas expects to spearhead a variety of Web3-powered initiatives.
“What took our teams 20 years to build, we will now be able to do in four or five years,” she asserted. “That’s a rush, and it’s why I’m excited to be the Innovation Director.” Chammas highlighted blockchain technology as a particularly exciting tool. But she admits that it’s still early days. “The government doesn’t know how to use it yet.”
That said, alongside academic partners, Chammas believes that there are opportunities for the public sector to leverage the technology for public good. Chammas also signaled that the Miami-Dade Government is investigating how to use NFTs and the metaverse to better deliver public services.
Chammas’s county-wide role also enables her to share best practices from around Miami-Dade and spotlight municipalities’ most exciting initiatives. “I can identify cities that are doing incredible work and pair them with municipalities that might be really interested in doing the same but don’t have the same resources.”
Overall, Chammas expressed deep pride in seeing the Miami tech movement’s recent growth. “To me, the movement began in the early 2000s,” she said, likening it to a new industrial revolution. “Like I tell my son, 100 years from now, we will look back on 1996 to 2036 as a digital revolution. So let’s take part in creating it.”
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