Daniels, town look to Gilbert's next 100 years in Digital State of the Town

Jenn Daniels, Gilbert Digital State of the Town
Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels delivers opening remarks before the Digital State of the Town video presentation to local leaders and residents Jan. 23 at the Harkins Theatres SanTan Village 16. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels delivers opening remarks before the Digital State of the Town video presentation to local leaders and residents Jan. 23 at the Harkins Theatres SanTan Village 16. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

With a nod toward Gilbert’s past in its centennial year, Gilbert officials and staff presented their vision of the next 100 years at the Digital State of the Town event Jan. 23 at the Harkins Theatres SanTan Village 16.

Mayor Jenn Daniels tied the past and future together in her opening remarks, calling the event a time to reflect on what has led the town to this moment.

“A hundred years is a long time and a hundred years of leaders who care deeply for Gilbert,” Daniels said. “For those of you who have served either as a town employee or as an elected officer, I want you to know that you have laid the groundwork for today's success. Today's council is following your lead for envisioning and building the city of the future.”

The video, played before an audience of local leaders and residents, captured council members, staff members, residents and town youth talking about what they hoped to see in Gilbert’s future or how they envision it will be.

The town’s “City of the Future” initiative from last year’s presentation continued to be part of the talking points.

Town Manager Patrick Banger, in his portion of the video, talked about the cycle of decline that hurts many cities.

“We are determined to write our own story in Gilbert, different from those that have gone before us,” Banger said. “ By investing proactively instead of reactively in smart technology and other systems, we can build roads, buildings and systems that will last well into the future.”

The town’s use of technology was a point of emphasis, as was making data-driven decisions. Daniels, in the video, called Gilbert a “connected community of innovators and technologists who are focused on making sure our community continues to thrive.”

Among the examples shown in the video was a segment in which Melissa Cannon, the town’s data content strategist, talked about how patterns in service-call data helped Gilbert Fire and Rescue Department put Fire Station No. 9 in the place to best serve south Gilbert.

Public Works Director Jessica Marlow talked about how fiber networks are being placed throughout the town, which, in the future, could help cars and equipment “talk” to each other to help improve traffic flow.

In response to Marlow on the video, Daniels said, “That’s great because we're a data-driven community, and we want to use data to improve the human experience at all levels of government.”

Daniels also spoke about data’s importance in her opening remarks and said she foresees a bright future for Gilbert.

“In Gilbert, we move at the speed of business and technology,” she said. “We are deliberate in our efforts to innovate and challenge the status quo in local government. We meet our residents and businesses where they are, and we are a thriving prosperous community with an incredible future. There is nothing—and I truly believe it—that I think we can't do when we work together.”

By Tom Blodgett

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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