You might have seen CEO Dave Mims’s recent video that shows many great examples of modern city
websites that not only look great but also have begun impacting the lives of
citizens. As Dave says in the video, when people first think about your city,
where will they go first? That’s right. Your website.
So, if they’re going to your website as an introduction to
your city, are they seeing a website that reflects your community well?
If your answer is not a resounding YES, then you might want
to explore modernizing your website. Luckily, what we talk about below can be
done extremely cost-effectively—just as we’ve done for many of the city
examples you will see.
Let’s look more closely at the benefits of a modern website
that most help cities.
As you can see with the City of Marshallville, Georgia’s website, a great modern look and feel can convey some
powerful messages about your city’s beauty and charm. You have cost-effective
options to not only modernize your website but customize it based on the unique
aspects of your city. Maybe it’s your history, tourist attractions, economic
strengths, or beautiful parks and scenery. Whatever it is, your website needs
to serve as a beautiful, warm welcome that conveys a lot of important things
about your city in the first few seconds that someone sees it.
A city like Dawsonville, Georgia uses its new website to keep citizens informed about news
and events. Because it’s so easy to upload content to this modern website, city
staff can post information in seconds. Citizens stay engaged by signing up for
a newsletter or sending in their own events—all from the city website. A modern
website allows cities to create as many pages as they need to help the specific
needs of citizens and businesses. Content such as city council agendas and
minutes, meetings, calendars, videos, and photos all keep citizens informed,
educated, and up-to-date about city happenings.
3. Online payments
give citizens and businesses better customer service and more flexible,
As you can see with the City of Bethel Heights, Arkansas, they offer the ability to pay sewer bills and tickets.
Many people are accustomed to paying bills online, and so citizens come to
expect the same kind of service from cities. In our digital age, it’s
frustrating if snail mail, phone, or in-person payments are the only options.
By providing online payments, you are giving your citizens and businesses an
extremely convenient way to conduct business with your city.
4. Let your city
website do some “heavy lifting” by providing useful content 24/7.
You can only give in-person tours during the day, but Jonesboro, Georgia gives
an online historical tour of its city 24/7. This is just one example of a great
way to let your website work for you when you’re not working. There are many
creative ways to provide information through photos, videos, and text to create
tours, guides, and checklists about anything important related to your city.
People can access this information anytime / anywhere, allowing them to learn
more about your city and get their questions answered—without you lifting a
5. Quickly direct
people to information.
Most importantly, you want your city website to speedily
direct people to the information they need. The City of Georgetown, Kentucky does
an excellent job by providing some quick links along with clear steps such as
“Ask a Question or Make a Request,” “Find Information,” and “View My
Questions/Requests.” While you want to present some softer content like tours,
pictures, and city history, never forget that citizens often come to find
specific information—fast. And you need to deliver that information and make it
easy to find.
Watch Dave’s video for a quick recap of these benefits and reach out to us if you’re interested in modernizing your website.
often wait to reexamine and modernize their technology only until a major
disastrous event such as a server failure, virus, or natural disaster hits. But
that likely doesn’t mean the technology worked perfectly until that point.
Warning signs probably existed that were ignored or accepted as the status quo.
understand. It’s sometimes hard to realize how bad you have it when aging
technology and reactive IT support are your norm. Use the following assessment
to see if you’ve been ignoring or putting up with failing technology—and ask
yourself if it’s time to take a good, hard look at your current technology
It’s easy to
become so accustomed to a negative technology environment that you think there
isn’t much wrong with your situation. Hey, as long as you’re getting by day by
day. But letting these technology problems go on introduces many risks
How did you do on this assessment? If you’ve noticed some issues and problems, reach out to us today.
At a smaller city, a
common reaction when your IT person leaves is to hire a new one. Or maybe
you’ve never hired one before and you think that having a full-time IT person
will benefit your city. Perhaps. But information technology is one of those
costly areas where it’s critical that you explore and vet other options.
The reason your municipal
association has a program like IT in a Box is because they have listened to you.
They know the unique needs of cities. IT in a Box is a technology service
tailored to local government that provides many benefits to cities—including cost-saving
alternatives to hiring a new IT person.
Let’s break it down.
Hiring a full-time
person means paying that person a competitive salary and benefits. It’s
currently a tight IT job market and that means you’ll need to pay a lot for a
good, experienced person. You might get to pay a lower market salary, but not
much lower. And don’t expect that person to stay long.
So, you hire a full-time
person who dedicates themselves to their IT job during the day. Let’s say they
even go the extra mile and remain on call most of the time. But your full-time
employee will inevitably get sick or go on vacation. What then? Who is taking
care of ongoing, regular IT issues and maintenance? You’ll potentially
experience service interruptions when they aren’t around. Even worse—what
happens when your IT person leaves for another job? Your IT will potentially be
neglected until you hire a new person—which can take a long time.
Even as your IT
employee puts in time on the job, they will experience various problems as a
department of one.
By contrast, consider
IT in a Box for a few compelling reasons.
When looking at
cost, you have to look at what you’re getting. Options now exist to simply get
much more bang for your buck. If you can pay less than one full-time normal
salary to get the capabilities of an entire experienced IT team who is always
available, then you seriously need to look at this option simply from a budget
perspective. With such an option, it’s harder to justify paying a salary (or
even salaries) with benefits for a time-limited, less experienced person.
A 24/7 support team
of municipal-experienced engineers provides proactive monitoring and management
of your IT environment. They never get sick, never go on vacation, and never
leave for another job. That’s because a team manages and supports your IT
environment so that multiple people on your city staff can get supported at the
same time. This kind of setup removes support bottlenecks and allows you to
more proactively handle your IT issues, needs, and projects.
Instead of the
impossible expectation of one person trying to be an expert in everything, a
team of engineers will have blended skill sets. That means different people may
handle your basic IT support, your website needs, your email, your document
management, or your cybersecurity. Small cities can now have a team of
engineers that only large companies usually have access to—all for less than
the cost of one full-time employee.
When considering IT
in a Box, your cost will be based upon the number of supported users. That
means small cities will benefit from a much lower cost and way more bang for
their buck than they would get from a full-time employee. Based on the number
of users, a monthly flat fee is set up. You will not pay any upfront
onboarding, equipment, setup, or project fees, and you will not be charged any
unpredictable hourly fees along the way.
an IT employee, or did an IT employee recently leave? Talk to us first about IT in a Box.
technology has gotten to the point where many cities see it as an affordable
option of providing Internet access to employees. After all, most cable
companies now offer a wireless modem as a standard component for consumers, and
wireless technology has both lowered in cost and improved in quality.
reductions and advances in technology may mean more cities using wireless—but
often with a do-it-yourself mentality. Because people often set up wireless
access points in their home, it’s easy to think you just need to go to a retail
store, buy the equipment, and set it up for your city.
on approach can lead to a host of critical performance and security issues for
cities that increase cyber risk. Use this list to see if your city might be at
wireless, don’t mess around. An experienced IT professional or vendor will be
able to identify what kind of wireless hardware you need, how many wireless
access points, where they should go, how your wireless hardware fits into your
entire network, and how to provide the best security for your employee needs.
questions about your city’s wireless connections? Reach out to us today.
Over the years,
many cities have been slow to adopt and incorporate advancements in information
technology. Begrudgingly, some are required to upgrade when the technology just
stops working and vendors no longer support it. Plus, technology continues to improve
in leaps and bounds, and it becomes available at an ever faster pace.
As a result,
cities encounter a tough uphill climb because servers, computers, and laptops
cost a lot of money. Maintaining onsite hardware and software also requires a
lot of complicated technical equipment and know-how. Today, information technology is still a
necessary investment but often hard to understand.
above said, don’t be so quick to dismiss using tablets at your city. Tablets
can be leveraged for all sorts of city business—from public works employees
using them in the field to councilmembers using them for meetings.
If your city
hasn’t embraced tablets yet, then consider a few compelling reasons why you
because tablets have lowered in cost and increased in functionality, they are
often relatively inexpensive investments that don’t require a large upfront cost.
tablets might work well for your city? Reach out to us to chat more about these handy devices.
open records laws and records retention policies is serious business. However,
email sometimes gets treated like an informal type of communication. But when
email is considered a public record, an informal approach to email becomes hard-to-manage,
expensive, and time-consuming when responding to an open records request.
many cities have not modernized their email systems. As a result, they open
themselves up to greater risk by not having proper business-class functionality
to help properly archive and maintain email.
Here are a
few serious mistakes that jeopardize a city’s ability to respond to open
records requests that involve email.
To avoid the
above mistakes, your city can follow this simple checklist.
about how your city handles open records requests that involve email? Reach out to us with your questions.
It’s safe to
say that we still find too much uncertainty when it comes to data backup at
cities. Typically, we investigate and find that the city has the potential for
we often see the following common risks:
overlook or too lightly consider the critical offsite data backup component as
part of an overall data backup and disaster recovery strategy. Why do cities
need to re-think offsite data backup so badly? Here’s why.
An offsite component
to your data backup strategy that considers the points above will help to ensure
that you have a mechanism in place that safeguards your data in the event of a disaster.
The investment pays off in so many ways, encompassing disaster recovery,
insurance, liability, security, and compliance. Onsite data backup is great,
and it’s better than nothing. But offsite data backup completes the picture and
gives you peace of mind.
assess your offsite data backup? Reach out to us with any questions.
deals in documents. That’s the way you capture, retain, and share much of your
information. You may still use a lot of paper documents or store your documents
somewhat chaotically on servers and computers. And you know that situation
makes it tough to store, access, and track documents.
With open records laws and higher importance placed on electronic information, you may consider upgrading to a modern document management system. But will it immensely help you compared to what you have now? Most likely. Here’s how.
document management systems are often quite an advance versus what cities
currently use. The basic theme of the advantages listed above are speed and
efficiency. The faster you can find, access, edit, and finalize documents, the
more time you save—and that gives you margin to tackle the many other items on
your busy plate. Added security also helps not only with protection against
hackers but also by ensuring that city employees access only the documents for
which they have permission.
about upgrading the way you manage documents? Send us a note and we’ll talk to you
in more detail.
breaches have become a regular part of the news. It seems that every day we
hear about a new attempt by hackers to steal sensitive information from large
companies and government agencies. These big cases hide the fact that many
hackers attack smaller cities because they are easy targets.
smaller cities especially focus on preventing hackers from stealing sensitive
information like social security numbers, credit card information, and other
personal identifying information? After making an effort to classify data based
on sensitivity and identifying where it resides in your city, you’ll want to do
best information security will not prevent the most sophisticated hackers from
stealing data. However, there’s a difference between being an open target and
significantly lessening the risk. Think about an unlocked house with open doors and windows. By starting
with the tips above, you’re taking steps to lock down your house. Threats will
still exist, but you are decreasing the likelihood of something happening.
start assessing the state of your data security? Reach out to us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.
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