cities, it’s challenging enough to modernize their websites. It creates a big
visual shift for your city, it takes an investment of time and money, and it
opens you up to new website features that you need to learn. But we see many
great new city websites suddenly go dead due to one culprit: content.
information. Text, images, audio, video. It’s what you create to communicate
important information to citizens. But content creation is hard,
time-consuming, and sometimes expensive. It’s easier to write up some copy and
leave it on your website for as long as possible.
today’s Internet-savvy citizens expect more from city websites than ever
before. Much more. Websites are no longer a novelty or secondary source of
information. Today, your website is often the first source of information about
your city that people discover and research.
seven reasons why you need to invest the time, either with someone on your city
staff or a freelance writer, to keep supplying your city with fresh
content takes such constant, ongoing hard work, you may want to designate
someone who primarily takes on the role (or roles) of creating, uploading, and
maintaining your online presence. They don’t need to originate all of the
information, but they can help collect it from busy members of your city staff,
help write it up, and post it.
Needing to freshen up your city website content? Reach out to us for more tips and advice.
If you still use Windows 2003 servers, you’re not alone.
Millions of servers around the world in many organizations still operate using
this popular server platform to run software, databases, and other tools.
Microsoft ended its extended support for Windows 2003 servers on July 14, 2015.
does that mean for you?
Well, you might think things are fine. After all, you’ve
run your software on these servers for many years. Your IT staff or vendor may
even know these servers like the back of their hand. Even if Microsoft ended
support, you’ll be fine, right?
Wrong. Here are several important, critical reasons why you
need to move off of your Windows 2003 servers as soon as possible.
Okay, but what do you need to do next? The important first
step is to recognize that you need to transition from your Windows 2003 servers
to something secure and modernized. While we recommend talking to us in more
detail about your particular situation, generally you will probably consider:
If you’ve run software, applications, and databases on
Windows 2003 servers for a long time, this situation can be a lot to digest
financially and operationally. To ease your concerns and get a game plan going, please reach out to us.
Incorporated in 1967, the city of Bethel Heights, Arkansas has
recently experienced rapid population growth. Increasing from
714 people in 2000 to 2,373 people in 2010, such quick growth
changed Bethel Heights’s classification in Arkansas to a second-class
city. That shift in growth means more citizens needing and
demanding important services. And like many cities, Bethel
Heights found itself needing to modernize its technology to keep
pace with this higher demand and stress upon city staff.
Unfortunately, Bethel Heights struggled to find reliable IT support
to meet the service demands of a rapidly growing population.
The city’s previous IT vendor did not always respond to requests
for help and frequently missed project deadlines. This situation
left the city with quite a few problems and challenges.
Bethel Heights solved these challenges and modernized its
technology by using the Arkansas Municipal League’s “IT in a
Box” service. Powered by Sophicity, “IT in a Box” is a complete IT
solution for cities and local governments. The service includes:
“IT in a Box” helped Bethel Heights:
We are so amazed with the services that Sophicity has provided for Bethel Heights. We thought our systems were
secure until we became infected with a virus. We then discovered we also had many more issues that needed
immediate attention. Sophicity was the only IT company that could provide every service the city needed. Sophicity was excellent in guiding me through my many questions. We have new computers, offsite backup, a reliable wireless network, and 24/7 help. We receive prompt service from a friendly, professional staff. Sophicity transformed our old website from a “lump of coal” to a shiny new diamond! Since we
acquired Sophicity’s services every need has been met with complete satisfaction. - Cynthia Black, Mayor
Print-friendly version of the Bethel Heights, Arkansas IT in a Box case study.
Sophicity is an IT products and services company providing technology solutions to city governments and municipal leagues. Among the services Sophicity delivers in “IT in a Box” are a website, data backup, offsite data backup storage, email, document management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server, desktop, and mobile management, vendor management and a seven-day a week helpdesk. Read more about IT in a Box.
organizations such as cities, technology is often separated from discussion
about business needs and goals. For example, city managers will focus on
important areas like the city’s budget, citizen service, and city operations
and see technology as a separate line item or cost center. Talk about new
hardware, software, a website, or IT support then becomes something that’s more
of a “nice-to-have” that the city can either afford or not. Only when
technology seems absolutely essential or needed to avert an emergency is it
If this is
how your city thinks about technology, you’re not alone. Many businesses and
organizations think similarly about investments in technology usually due to an
“IT public relations problem.” Historically, IT has often seemed like it’s an
arcane, isolated department that uses technology to make cool things happen on
top of regular business goals, operations, and projects.
not the way to think about technology. It’s actually ingrained in the day-to-day
areas that keep city managers up at night. Here are some of those areas, and
why technology helps city managers achieve their goals in each area.
If viewed as
a “nice-to-have” or a cost center, technology can seem quite detached from the
day-to-day worries of a city manager. But if viewed as a core foundation of
helping city managers do what they do best, technology is an essential
investment that helps cut costs and achieve important goals. The financial
investments for technology are similar to ones that justify money spent on regular
asset inventory audits, customer service, talent recruiting and retention, and insurance.
That means you need to work with IT professionals who understand how to speak
your language—not just the language of technology.
Need to talk more about how IT impacts your world as a city manager? Reach out to us.
Thankfully, with our Data Continuity Appliance (DCA) your organization currently doesn’t have to
worry about the threat of losing data as a result of a server failure or
disaster. This service regularly
and automatically backs up your data and allows you to recover your data even
after the worst disasters.
Because 24x7x365 environments like public safety, insurance
organizations, and your organization cannot afford any downtime, we continue to
stay committed to meeting your disaster recovery and business continuity needs.
At no additional cost
and with the possibility of reducing your monthly DCA cost, we are making
the following enhancements to your DCA services.
Contact us to learn more about our DCA and how it can help you back up your data while protecting you from disaster.
If you work
for a larger city, you might understand why hackers target it. The size of an
Atlanta, a Lexington, or a Little Rock attracts a lot of cybercriminals, but
those cities also spend a great deal on resources to defend themselves. We
often hear that hackers should consider smaller cities to be so inconsequential
that these cybercriminals wouldn’t bother attacking them.
only reports on the biggest hacking and data breach cases, leading many of us
to think that only large government organizations get attacked. But many data and
cybersecurity breaches occur at smaller cities that go mostly unreported and
So why do
hackers go after your small cities? Here’s why.
on your probable lack of security. For a quick assessment, ask the following
questions that we posed in a recent webinar:
More questions about the state of your cybersecurity? Reach out to us and we’ll help give you some answers.
If you owned
a restaurant where the power continually went out, fires constantly erupted in
the kitchen, and food always went bad, you could approach this problem in two
ways. You could mess with the wiring every time, use the fire extinguisher
every time, and throw out the bad food every time, doing the best you can to
work around these obstacles. Or, you could investigate and remedy the root
cause of the power outages, the fires, and the bad food so that these problems
went away for good.
you would choose the second approach. However, many cities unfortunately put up
with information technology that parallels the first approach. Servers fail.
Your website constantly goes down. Your tape backup never seems to work. Many
cities just put up with these ongoing problems, moving from fire to fire. And some
IT vendors are good at keeping many cities at the fire level, billing for these
constant, ongoing issues without ever really curing them for good.
of problems affect how you serve citizens and how much work your employees can
accomplish each day. Fighting fires every day is unwise for our restaurant
owner, and it’s unwise for your city. Here are some steps your IT staff or
vendor needs to take in order to cure your IT problems for good.
cities may think that spending money on continuous monitoring and maintenance
is expensive and overkill, especially when they don’t experience IT problems
anymore (which is good!), just think of our restaurant example. We’ve all
experienced certain businesses that just “get by” or eventually go out of
business if they can’t take care of their core problems. While cities can’t go
out of business, they can certainly inhibit good business by flailing around
with solvable IT problems. Put out your IT fires for good, instead of dealing
with a daily dose of fires every day.
about your city’s IT monitoring and alerting? Drop us a line.
important to prepare for disasters, many forms of data loss occur from common,
everyday scenarios. However, we find that many arguments for the importance of
data backup and disaster recovery focus on “big fear events” such as fire, tornado,
or flooding. True, those things do happen with enough frequency to be
concerned, but it’s often easier for cities to put off investing in data backup
because these scenarios seem rare and unlikely.
are more common data loss culprits. More situations exist that can literally
happen at any second that increase your city’s risk of data loss every day. If
you’re not protected against these extremely common scenarios, then you’re
placing your city’s data at extreme risk.
What kind of
data loss scenarios are most common? Here are just a few.
served cities for many many years, we can attest that these scenarios are
unfortunately common. Like insurance, cities need to protect their data and
ensure that city operations do not shut down merely because of a simple, common
event such as an employee mistake, virus, or server failure.
about data backup in more detail, please
it. Technology is often a pain, something you struggle against. You want your
employees productively working, you’ve got important city business to conduct,
and you’ve got that important city council meeting tonight. Like hitting your
head against an invisible brick wall, technology can often frustrate you and
prevent important tasks from getting done.
frustrating is that it’s like fighting an invisible enemy. Your IT staff or
vendor might give you overly technical reasons for any issues, but all you know
is that these issues are slowing down your progress—and possibly even losing
cases, this arises from reactive technology support where you’re always putting
out fires. Going deeper into the root causes, we find that the following issues
are usually the core of what’s wrong—and what you need to fix in order for the
fires to stop.
root causes are addressed, we find that many of the everyday battles and
struggles with technology almost miraculously go away. If you feel that only an
expensive technology investment can get rid of your current problems, many
times the opposite is true. Streamlining your technology and cutting out
inessential investments can help you only use what you need to run your city.
It’s also a time to consider transitioning many of your expensive technology
investments into the cloud, where they are often cheaper, better maintained,
and more efficient and secure.
about your everyday technology struggles in more detail, please contact us.
recently started offering verified page badges for state and local governments.
Verified page badges were originally created back in 2013 for celebrities and
well-known brands to reduce confusion, fraud, and duplicate content for Facebook
users while better protecting the reputation and credibility of celebrities and
rely more and more on social media as an important source of information, it
becomes clear that state and local governments are subject to the same problems
as celebrities and brands. This recent GovTech article provides a good summary of the release of Facebook’s new verified page feature for
state and local governments and how to verify your profile.
should you care? Here are some reasons why you need to establish and verify
your Facebook profile as soon as possible.
perspective, the verified Facebook pages for state and local government are an
overdue, necessary feature that helps citizens find important information and
connect better with the information your city broadcasts. But this also means
you need to step up your Facebook game as a city. Think about getting your
verified page badge, more regularly sharing important information on Facebook,
and engaging more with people on social media. That way, your city becomes even
more of a part of your citizens’ lives every day.
Questions about how this whole verification thing works? Send us a note and we’ll do our best to answer.
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