RALEIGH – Wake County ranks as the second best for technology efforts by county governments in a new survey.

Wake climbed to second place from fifth a year ago in the 18th such “Digital County Survey.” Wake has made the top 10 now for nine consecutive years.

The Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties conduct the survey and includes counties with populations of one million or more.

“[L]eading jurisdictions had made investments in broadband, remote collaboration and digital citizen engagement long before COVID-19 tested whether they were up to the challenge,” government related news site GovTech reporte.

Wake was acknowledged for a “combined security effort” and its COVID-19 pandemic strategy.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly forced the world to go virtual this spring, the investments we’ve been making in technology for years paid major dividends,” said Vickie Adamson, vice chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, in a statement. “Through skill, hard work and innovative thinking, our Information Services Department kept the county running during this unprecedented time.”

Here’s why Wake rated so highly, trailing only Los Angeles County:

“Consistently a strong contender in the Digital Counties Survey, this year Wake County, N.C., jumped from fifth to second place in its population category. The Information Services (IS) department strives to work in conjunction with the county’s ‘Great Government’ goals, including increasing transparency and boosting data-driven decision-making. In 2019 Wake County hired a chief data officer who is tasked with heading an Enterprise Data Management Program that includes a data governance council comprising members from across county departments to lead creation of a data use and security policy. There is also a new group of data analysts called Analytics at Wake (aWake), which includes a data literacy program for county staff, efforts to upgrade the county’s open data portal, and exploration of new tools like the Internet of Things.

“In a new coordinated security effort, Wake County has established an Incident Risk Management Core Team made up of the chief information security officer, heads of IT, and managers across all county departments who come together to discuss and make decisions around security policy and management. A cybertraining program resulted in a 65 percent improvement in user susceptibility to email phishing between January 2019 and March 2020.

“COVID-19 of course impacted Wake in no small way, with 2,500 employees, or 90 percent of staff, working remotely since mid-March. Fortunately, a number of critical elements to IT service were replaced or upgraded in the last year, like network storage and firewalls, as well as the county’s Internet bandwidth, which became useful when they invested in additional VPN licenses to accommodate all the remote workers. IS has worked closely with emergency services since the Emergency Operations Center was activated in March, which has pulled resources from IT for critical work like standing up a COVID dashboard and contact tracing app.”

Read the full survey online.