Craig Kesson is Executive Director for Corporate Services at the City of Cape Town. He’s also the Chief Resilience Officer and Chief Data Officer. We explore the data-driven strategy at City of Cape Town, overcoming the general fear of data in public departments, emerging disrupters impacting the City and how it will remain resilient, his definition of a Smart City, what he would change if he had a magic wand, his hopes for the City 20 years from now.
Data-driven strategy at City of Cape Town
Overcoming the general fear of data in public departments
Emerging disrupters impacting the City and how it will remain Resilient
Craig’s definition of a Smart City
What Craig would change if he had a magic wand?
Hopes for the City 20 years from now
About Craig Kesson
As Executive Director of Corporate Services my portfolio is broad. 11 directors report to me with a complement of 2,000 staff and total operating budget of US$150 million. I am also the Chief Data Officer and Chief Resilience Officer for the organization. In the latter role I led the strategic responses to the Cape Town water crisis in 2017 and COVID-19 in 2020. Recently, this includes the economic recovery programme for the City. Solving difficult and complex problems that have great impact and making sure solutions are data driven is where I am at my best from identifying the specifics of the problem to crafting practical solutions and managing interdisciplinary teams to execute. As a result, I have been exposed to large scale, large budget programmes with many moving parts.
I have consistently achieved breakthrough results in all areas of my responsibility: policy and strategy, IT for the whole organization, data science and analytics, project / programme / portfolio management, knowledge management, HR and high level OD, communications and customer relations.
Revising the outdated and unsuccessful Broadband infrastructure programme that has been presented to Council in June 2020. It proposes a five-year infrastructure build of US$10 million pa capital and US$5 million pa operating expenses.
Full upgrade of core applications IT following thorough business process and technical analysis carried out over a year and internationally benchmarked. The upgrade is valued at around US$1 billion and will rollout over 10 years. It includes a procurement strategy compliant with competition law and public procurement policy.
COVID-19 response that resulted in lowering the infection rate ahead of the curve and long term benefits of a supplementary healthcare system for the City and a new operating model for City management that incorporates new logistics platforms, decision support and financial modelling tools. I am now leading the Recovery Programme, including reviving the local economy through a package of interventions including infrastructure investment and legislative changes to ease doing business in the City.
Water Crisis: I cut my teeth on dealing with this abnormal crisis in 2017 heading the City’s cross divisional response to the once in 500-year drought that afflicted Cape Town. Through data led complex problem solving, gathering the right expertise around me and careful practical implementation we brought water consumption down to unheard of levels for a city of our size and developed a water augmentation scheme that is in rollout.’
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