Innovation & Technology

Department of Innovation and Technology

Scot Barker
Chief Innovation Officer
Phone: 802-829-5793
Helpdesk: 802-865-7022
Helpdesk email:
Helpdesk web submission:  http://kbox/userui/summary.php

Data-Driven & Technology-Enabled Innovation

The Innovation & Technology Department (I&T) oversees the City’s IT infrastructure, including servers, networks, and personal computers. The Department applies new technologies, insights from City data, or new approaches to improve City operations and make City services and programs more transparent, cost effective, and equitable in terms of access or provision.


Continuous Improvement

Since its creation by the Mayor and City Council in 2015, one of the core functions of the I&T Department has been to improve and innovate existing City processes in a way that saves taxpayer dollars and makes the City more efficient, effective, and transparent. Looking back , 2019 was productive year from a continuous improvement perspective. The I&T team has tackled a range of continuous improvement initiatives with those goals in mind, and here are some examples:

  • Positioning the City to Benefit from the Carbon Offset Market: Given the growing climate emergency, it is critical to position the City to continue in its efforts to be an exemplary environmental steward as well as to support ongoing City initiatives like Mayor’s Net Zero Energy initiative. It is especially exciting when that work can also identify new revenue sources that could reduce the burden on City taxpayers. The I&T Carbon Offset Initiative does just that:  Working with an innovative partner called Urban Offsets, the City has established the necessary framework to be the beneficiary when local businesses elect to offset their emissions. In simple terms, when a business chooses to offset emissions, it can now work with the City so that the cost of the offsets is substantially discounted, and the value saved by that discount is directed to support City tree plantings. 
  • Restructuring the City’s Permitting System: Thanks to voter approval in March 2019, the City has combined the different elements of the permitting system into one new Department, in one location, with one person clearly in charge. This change required a substantial physical renovation of the existing City facility at 645 Pine Street, led by Capital Improvement Projects Manager Martha Keenan, to create a one-stop shop for residents, in addition to many changes to the City’s organizational chart and the relocation of staff and vehicles across the City to more efficient allocations. And, under the leadership of the new Department of Permitting & Inspections Director, Bill Ward, these structural changes are just the beginning of the work. The City has already implemented some new self-certification forms for contractors, streamlined problematic fee reconciliation practices, made substantial progress eliminating a backlog of old and unclear permits that can cause challenges for City residents, and is considering removing a number of existing permit types. The I&T Department led the organizational re-structuring in FY19 related to the permitting system and new Department creation, and will continue to support the ongoing process reforms with training funds.  I&T is also currently leading the replacement of the City’s dated permitting software with a system that should allow easier access for residents and significantly improved collaboration among City teams. In total when completed, the project should result in significant cost savings and staff efficiencies, but the biggest savings should be resident time – making it easier to know what is needed, what is not, and visit just one location (if you have to travel at all).
  • New City Services Without New Costs – PAL Camp: Some of the best projects come together quickly because of the quality of the teams working in different City Departments. PAL Camp, which stands for the Parks, Arts, and Library Camp, is a good example of this. Thanks to some community input and staff insight, the City focused this past year on providing new programming at the end of August, when most camps are finished but school is not yet in session. This can be a challenging time for parents, particularly those with younger children. Staff from the Fletcher Free Library, Parks, Rec & Waterfront Department, and Burlington City Arts worked with the I&T team to develop programming for this two-week stretch, utilizing existing resources and some additional scholarship funding provided to the City. The credit belongs with the PAL staff, who took on new roles amid their current duties to extend programming without the traditional new costs. Based on surveys completed at the end of the program to assess its impact, the camp was well-received by parents and families. This program should be back in 2020 with some modest adjustments based on those surveys, focused on 1st through 5th graders.

There are many other efforts completed or underway – looking at what City phones are regularly used or can be disconnected, clarifying record retention practices, improving remote access policies or IT asset management – but the above three give an example of the range of work the team does to try and improve City service access, provision, and efficiency.

The Innovation & Technology (I&T) team is responsible for maintaining the City’s network, infrastructure, applications, and desktop computers. The team also provides programming support to all Departments to assist in the integration and development of applications required to perform our work. The team provides support to the following Departments: Burlington International Airport, Burlington City Arts, City Assessor, City Attorney, Clerk/Treasurer’s Office, Code Enforcement, Community & Economic Development Office, Fire Department, Human Resources, Fletcher Free Library, Mayor’s Office, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, Planning & Zoning, and Public Works.