Cary, NC is a Trailblazer

Cary, NC develops a connected city strategy that is truly visionary


Think of the last presentation you heard on technological innovation.

It probably included buzzwords like “connected devices” or catchphrases like “the internet of things” to describe tomorrow’s technology applications – applications that tend to sound so futuristic it is hard to really picture them coming to life. But these are live, real-life use cases the Cary team is enabling across its community right now.

Cary, located in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, is home to 162,000 people. It has a history of being an industry leader when it comes to recognizing customer preferences, digitizing public services, and redefining the overall government experience. “We really think about from the moment you wake until the moment you go to sleep, where are all the possible touch points you have with the Town, and how can we make that experience better? How do we meet our citizens where they already are?” said Nicole Raimundo, CIO for the Cary.

Cary’s mission is also Cary’s challenge.

Raimundo’s perspective reflects the Town’s mission: enrich the lives of its citizens by (1) creating an exceptional environment and (2) providing exemplary services that enable the community to thrive and prosper. “This means there is no status quo. There is always an opportunity to improve,” said Raimundo. “And, because Cary is in a high-tech region, we know that our residents – our customers – see an exceptional government experience as one that uses technology to connect them without feeling the burden of that connection, i.e. without them having to wait in line or file a form.”

Raimundo and team began looking at what early technology adopters were using in their interactions with other industries. A handful of data points stood out:

  1. Text messaging was quickly becoming the most used data service in the world.* 89% of consumers wanted to use text messaging to communicate with businesses, making texting the most preferred customer support channel.** Plus, adults between the ages of 35 and 44 were receiving an average of 52 texts per day, and adults 45 to 54 were receiving an average of 33 texts per day.*** 18% of Cary’s population is over the age of 55, with the median at 40 years old; text messaging was a looking to be a very familiar and welcome communication channel across the community.

  2. Personal assistant devices were becoming increasingly popular. Amazon’s Echo accounted for 72% of the smart speaker market with over 25,000 skills enabled on the device. Studies found that the most commonly used skill was information gathering – “Alexa, what is the temperature going to be today in downtown Cary?” – followed closely by music. These usage patterns, combined with researchers estimating 75% of U.S. Households would have a smart speaker by the end of 2020, were signaling that this could be a highly effective way to distribute information to the community.***

  3. More traditional applications still had a strong foothold. Google’s Waze, a crowd-sourced traffic monitoring app, has over 100 million users. “Applications like Waze offer a meaningful way to connect citizens to government data – in this case, about street closures and construction – so they can be proactive and make informed decisions that save them time and help us improve traffic flow,” said Raimundo.  

“I always think about how do we as a team get ahead of trends like this,” said Raimundo. “What that really means is, yes, smart cities stuff but even more it’s about connecting our people to each other and to our resources.”

Jetson’s-era technology starts surfacing throughout Cary.

Raimundo and team launched several cloud-based application pilots across the organization, giving its residents entirely new ways to connect to government services:

  • Cary turned Alexa into its newest contact center agent. “We have an app built on Field Service Lightning that allows you to submit a ticket right from your home. Say you wake up in the morning and notice your trash bins are still sitting on the curb, full. You can ask Alexa to confirm your trash collection day, and then send a service request to us to send a truck for your overlooked bins,” said Raimundo.


Dive deeper into the Cary example.

Nicole Raimundo walks through more of the strategy and details behind Cary’s cloud vision, as well as additional use cases that are in the works.
  • Cary turned stoplights into the newest connected device using Salesforce IoT (Internet of Things). “Later that day, you’re on your way to the dog park when you notice Waze is directing you to take an alternate, unusual route. You think nothing of it until you get to the park, where you overhear someone discussing the traffic jam caused by an outed stoplight on your usual route,” Raimundo continued. “Where you just saw a redirect, the Town saw the stoplight itself trigger an alert that was sent to the traffic department, the police department, and your phone simultaneously, engaging everyone at the right time with the right information to mitigate, triage, and avoid the intersection, respectively.”

  • Cary launched these pilots with relative ease because it leveraged the same cloud platform as its foundational infrastructure. Alerts from stop lights or tickets from Alexa are logged in its Case Management System on the Salesforce Service Cloud, bringing more color to the profile developed by data collected from more traditional use cases. “If you realize you forgot your pass once you get to the dog park, you can text our LiveMessage app; we’ll verify your identity and unlock the gate for you remotely. If you’re submitting an inquiry over mobile – a pothole, for example – you have the option to attach a photo.”

“We’re building out this connected community. That means connecting people to each other, and using technology as the means for that connection.”


5 Best Practices

Cary serves as a prime example for departments and agencies looking to transform the ways citizens can connect to their government.

The benefits of a futuristic community impact more than Cary’s residents.

While these applications are designed first-and-foremost for customer success, the resulting capabilities spill over to the employee side as well. By capturing more information about more citizen touchpoints, Cary is giving teams the context they need to send the right people at the right time with the right sense of urgency, resolving the issue faster and cheaper without sacrificing quality of service. “In the pothole example, we can determine if it’s a storm water issue, or a pipe leak, and get the right field team out there instead of sending everyone out of caution,” said Raimundo. “They can now get that information out in the field, unlike the system that we replaced, where the work orders themselves were sheets of paper. “

Office-based employees are also better equipped. The platform has opened up visibility to various work streams across the organization, as opposed to keeping progress and learnings isolated in off-the-shelf, departmental-specific software. Now any employee is becoming more informed as to whether or not a problem was solved, where the bottleneck might have been, which subject matter expert made a difference, how to best get back in touch with the customer, and so on. The platform has streamlined operations from the front to back office, helping everyone make better decisions.

“We are building out the 360-degree view of our citizens, and then we’re translating that over to internal operations. That will allow us to refine existing services, create new services based on quantifiable needs, or maybe eliminating services that aren’t driving any value,” said Raimundo. “So, we’re still delivering against our business objectives, but we’re doing it in a manner that’s nearly seamless to our citizens.”


Keep exploring stories like this one.

Questions? We’ll put you on the right path.

Ask about Salesforce products, pricing, implementation, or anything else. Our highly trained reps are standing by, ready to help.