Chief information officers and other IT leaders from many of California's counties, along with vendors from scores of companies, will gather this weekend in San Diego for the semi-annual conference of the California County Information Services Directors Association (CCISDA).

The agenda for the CIOs will be the topics that are dominating conversations in the larger IT community: cybersecurity, agile development, disaster services and recovery, and mutual brain-picking between the CIOs and the industry representatives.

San Joaquin County CIO Jerry Becker is the president of CCISDA, and Napa County CIO Jon Gjestvang is the conference program chairman. Both spoke with Techwire on Wednesday about what the CIOs and vendors should expect when they get to San Diego.

"Though counties in California are very diverse in size and, in many ways, in the kinds of populations they serve, we have more things in common than differences," Becker said. "This conference is the highlight of all the conferences and events that I go to, because of the opportunity to learn from other CIOs and to collaborate with those individuals for the betterment of our citizens."

Specifically, Gjestvang said, the topics will include:

— "What we as county IT leaders are faced with in the future of IT, and understanding ‘What does that hold for us?’ We have no crystal ball, and technology is moving so much faster.

— "How do we become more agile? Long, drawn-out projects don’t necessarily work in a fast-moving world. 

— “We’ll be forging stronger partnerships with other counties; with agencies outside counties, such as special districts; and with vendors. We’ll be tackling the more complex business challenges we have out there, such as ‘How do we plan out the best site security for organizational awareness?’

— "And we have an engaged IT workforce that’s allowed to make decisions as teams more than they have been in the past. We’ll be talking about just-in-time education. And we’ll be talking about disasters (such as the fires that beset Napa and Sonoma counties last year) and how does IT respond to that, given that IT is becoming a bigger part of that."

To go beyond talk, Gjestvang said, “Napa County is having our Emergency Services officer lead a tabletop exercise, in which members will actually respond to a [simulated] disaster that’s going to require IT help. We want to get people thinking about disasters in the future — what [resources] do they have, not have, how to prepare. … And we’ll be sharing that information."

Gjestvang said there'll also be "kind of a Cybersecurity 101" for leaders, with a panel discussion."

Becker also noted the many chances that the conference offers for CIOs to mingle with vendors' representatives, including over meals and unstructured time. 

"We emphasize our partnerships with the vendors," Becker said. "We would not be successful without those partners. There is such an integration — the sales folks get the opportunity to talk with the CIOs, and we get to talk with them and learn about what they have to offer." 

Techwire will provide coverage of the conference next week.