Breakout Sessions

Following the keynote address, breakout sessions were offered to discuss the forum topic areas of Digital Government, Open Government in the Digital Age, and Emergency Communications Planning. At the end of the day, stories from the field were shared, highlighting innovative solutions to issues facing the community, and inspired participants to take what they learned during the forum back to their own community.

Dr. Alan Shark, Executive Director & CEO of Public Technology Institute, an expert in mobile and e-government and technology trends in government, shared best practices for municipalities to save money and become more efficient, while providing new and improved services to the public through innovative technologies.  View the welcome and Dr. Shark's keynote presentations here.

Breakout Sessions

Click on the session titles to view the speaker presentations.

Track Description
Digital Government The Wave of Digital Government Has Reached the Shore- The expectations for local governments to move operations online are building.  But the benefits to municipalities are even harder to ignore.  This session will discuss these benefits, and a variety of ways to address the resource challenges that municipalities often face.  Examples from the field will also be shared.

Speakers: Dr. Alan Shark, CEO Public Technology Institute; Alex Torpey, Founder & Partner - Veracity Media; Todd Costello, Director of Information Technology, Middletown
Open Government in the Digital Age Technology & the Open Government Movement: How Digitization & Open Data are Revolutionizing Municipalities – Open government wins points with the public, but also creates efficiencies.  The basic level starts with putting public records and other information online.  We will cover the basics of what records belong online, and the necessary steps to make them digital.   At the advanced level is opening government data, which has numerous benefits for internal departments and the community at large.  This session will highlight benefits and strategies for governments of all sizes to implement these two levels of digitized open government, while addressing the challenges facing local governments at the same time.

Speakers: Seth Wainer, Chief Data Officer - City of Newark; Brian Platt, Chief Innovation Officer - Jersey City; Marc Pfeiffer, Assistant Director - Rutgers Bloustein Local Government Research Center
Emergency Communications Planning Communication Planning for Emergencies– Planning takes a focus on details and time to make sure all bases are covered.  And in an emergency, you only get once chance to get it right.  This session will focus on the steps needed to create an effective emergency communications plan and share examples from the field. 

Speaker: Chris Aldrich, Deputy Fire Coordinator - Ocean County Zone 4
Digital Government  Communicating in 21st Century Government – Having a relevant message is just the first step to effective communication.  An engaged audience is just as necessary.  Tools and municipal best practices for engaging your residents through online and traditional communication platforms will be discussed, highlighting municipal successes throughout New Jersey.    

Speakers: Katya Wowk, Communications Director, Montclair Twp; Matthew Hersh, Founder, Hub City News & Jaffe Communications; Sharon Colucci, Montclair TV & Founding Member - Jersey Access Group; Tim Tracey, Research Associate - Monmouth University Polling Institute
Open Government in the Digital Age  Laying the Groundwork to Open Your Municipal Data –Opening government data takes planning.   This session will focus on the foundations of such a plan:  deciding 1) which data to share and 2) how to share it.  We will address best practices for developing an inventory, including strategies to assess which data is most useful to both municipal departments and the broader community.  Highlights will include a wide range of examples on how municipalities across the country share their data.  

Speakers: Alex Torpey, Founder & Partner - Veracity Media; Matt Pazoles, Senior Analyst - The Center for Government Excellence; Arie Hoogendoorn - Senior Project Manager - City of Newark
Emergency Communications Planning  Emergency Communication Strategies, Part 1:  Setting the Stage– There is no time like an emergency where the need to reach every corner of the community is greater.  Before updates are disseminated, a lay of the land is needed to learn what channels are available and used by community members, as well as the demographics of your community. We will discuss the inventorying process for traditional and online communications vehicles and demographics of your town needed to best inform an emergency communications strategy. 

Speakers: Chris Aldrich, Deputy Fire Coordinator - Ocean County Zone 4; Carol Spencer, Digital & Communications Consultant - StormZero LLC; Andrew Coppola, Administrator - Washington Twp (Morris)
Digital Government   Engaging the Citizenry in a Digital World– The digital sphere is not just about pushing out information to the community.  Greater opportunities exist to engage your residents in quality of life decisions.  This session will highlight useful tools which can help solicit input on government proposals, gather feedback on public services, report issues, automate clerk department functions and more.  Case studies from around the state will be shared.  

Speakers: Jeffrey Wilkerson, Principle Planner - Trenton Division of Planning; Howard Levison, South Orange Village Trustee; Jamie Klenetsky Fay, Digital Media Manager - Morris County
Open Government in the Digital Age  Advanced Case Studies in Digital Open Government-A more in depth look at using open government data and how government and community members can use the data to create innovative solutions that make government more efficient and public information more accessible to the public.  We will spotlight municipalities and civic hackers doing it well across New Jersey and the nation.  

Speakers: Christine Stymington, Energy Director - Sustainable Princeton; Anna Lukasiak, Founder - Open JC; Cassidy Boulan, Transportation Planner - DVRPC
Emergency Communications Planning  Emergency Communication Strategies, Part 2:  Getting the Word Out– Now that you are aware of how residents get their news, crafting a message and getting it to the right people is key.  We will uncover effective techniques for using online media platforms in an emergency. 

Speakers: Carol Spencer, Digital & Communications Consultant - StormZero LLC

Stories from the Field

Municipalities showcased their innovative solutions to issues facing the community.  View the presentation here.  Stories include:

  • South Toms River – Business Administrator & Clerk Joseph Kostecki showcased on South Toms River mobile app that allows residents to access various important municipal updates and information, request services and report issues
  • Princeton – Mayor Lempert shared how her administration has supported the local open data movement by opening up municipal data sets like crime & health data, and partnering with local organizations and civic hackers to develop innovative solutions to community problems, including tracking energy usage, walkability to key locations in town and more
  • Jersey City - Brian Platt, Jersey City's Chief Innovation Officer, gave the audience a look at Jersey City’s growth in the open government data realm:  starting with its low hanging fruit and advancing towards more visually appealing applications.  Yes, this big city was a novice open data community too!

For more information, contact Lauren Skowronski at 609-771-3129 or

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