CitySmart Blog

Friday, August 05, 2011
Dave Mims, President
Is your city being just as intentional as Steven VanRoekel (@stevenvDC)? Steven is our new U.S. CIO, and he plans to focus at the national government level on:
  • nimble adoption of technology
  • cloud computing
  • cybersecurity
If local government is not focusing on these very same things, then:
  • how much money is being wasted?
  • how much productivity is being lost?
  • is city data at risk for loss?
  • is city financial data at risk for compromise?
  • is personal citizen data at risk for compromise?
  • is a hacker being more intentional with our city?
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Clint Nelms, Network Infrastructure Practice Manager
I recently attended the Atlanta Technology Summit’s Security in an era of Cloud Computing event. There were lots of nuggets shared, and one in particular was learning about the Cloud Security Alliance.  This is an independent consortium of security professionals working to establish security standards for the cloud.
The summit was a day well spent meeting with peers in our industry exchanging insight, lessons learned, and warnings on this topic. My top 3 takeaways from the summit are:
  • Pick a cloud provider that has been around for a long time, i.e. Google, Microsoft, Amazon.  The larger the entity, the more they will have to lose if a breach or failure occurs.
  • Create a strategy for migration to a cloud provider and also prepare a plan for migration away from it.  Make sure that you know what your exit strategy looks like when the cloud provider discontinues services or you decide to leverage another platform from a different vendor.
  • You can outsource the infrastructure but not the responsibilities. You are still responsible for testing and auditing your processes to ensure that reasonable due diligence has been done to avoid risks and issues.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Dave Mims, President
Not just a risk to small businesses in our communities! This is also a recommended read for awareness for our local municipalities too. Don't take malware lightly. Read more at
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Clint Nelms, Network Infrastructure Practice Manager
Be careful of reusing usernames and passwords! That's one way hackers compromised this Public Safety office. Read more at
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Todd Snoddy, Software Development Practice Manager
Imagine law enforcement being able to instantly and accurately ID a suspect by snapping their picture from up to five feet away with an app on their mobile device.  Read more at
Friday, July 15, 2011
Dave Mims, President
Sophicity recently published The Myth Behind 'Managed Services' and the Cost to Municipalities in the July 2011 issue of South Dakota Municipalities magazine. The magazine is published by the South Dakota Municipalities and focuses on a variety of contemporary municipal issues. We encourage you to read the complete article and also visit South Dakota Municipalities online.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Dave Mims, President

GovTech had a great article recently about the public sector’s response to cloud computing. Compared to the private sector, state and local government is adopting cloud computing at a much slower pace. The statistics are alarming, and here’s why:

1. “42 percent of private-sector organizations are operating on some level in the cloud, while 23 percent of public-sector organizations are doing the same.” We have seen this kind of percentage not just with cloud computing, but with information technology adoption as a whole. Continuing to run old systems and not embracing technology innovation is costly and very risky to municipalities.

2. “75 percent of responding public-sector entities said they didn’t have the IT skills in place internally to support a cloud environment.” What about the IT skills to support data backup, disaster recovery, financial software, website hosting, ERP systems, etc. etc. Saying you don’t have the skills when you are the steward for public services is a very risky argument to make. Where will citizens turn when an emergency occurs? How can a public steward respond that “our systems were down” or that “our City is X years behind the technology curve”?

3. “59 percent of the U.S. public sector saying they were concerned about security issues in the cloud. 37 percent said they feared the potential for data loss in the cloud.” This is where the biggest dose of reality is needed. We would argue from experience that local government, with their existing on-premise systems, are significantly less secure and at more risk for data loss than a cloud solution. Very large technology organizations like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others have been heavily investing into the highest standards possible. By contrast, underfunded cities with obsolete technology, talent shortages, and lack of federal or state regulation as to the quality of their information technology will often increase the probability of having significant security issues.

We encourage you to read our article from last year about cloud computing, but at the very least to take away a few points:

- Cloud computing has the potential to save you a LOT of money.
- Cloud computing is typically MORE secure than systems you now have in place.
- Cloud computing removes some IT management burden and frees up staff time.

If cities are not seriously exploring cloud options, they are (once again) missing the boat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Kevin Howarth, Director of Business Development

Luke Fretwell at GovFresh shares this interesting blog entry with two videos of Steve Jobs presenting to the Cupertino City Council. Watch Jobs do his magic at a City Council meeting, and take notes for the next time you need to present to your elected officials!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Clint Nelms, Network Infrastructure Practice Manager

Every time you read or watch the news, it seems that another hacking job has succeeded on high-profile targets such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Senate, and companies like Sony. A recent article from CNET notes:

“Hacker groups Anonymous and LulzSec said [Monday, June 20] they are uniting in a campaign aimed at banks, government agencies, and other high-profile targets, and they are encouraging others to steal and leak classified information.”

While no one organization is 100% safe, it is unfortunate that many of these organizations are hacked easily because of weak security. Local government is ripe for such attacks because of limited budgets, lack of information security regulations or standards, and obsolete or missing technologies (e.g. firewalls, etc).

Given that these hacking groups have declared cyberwar against government targets, here are three Information Security 101 things you can do to prevent yourself from being an easy target:

1. Patch software regularly (e.g. regular Windows updates). Before Sophicity stabilizes a city’s environment, we find in most cases that servers and workstations are woefully behind on basic software patching.
2. Install an enterprise firewall along with deploying an antivirus solution.
3. Change passwords regularly and have a password policy in place.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Clint Nelms, Network Infrastructure Practice Manager

In case you haven’t noticed, the theme of cloud computing and cost savings is spreading like wildfire through many organizations – including municipalities. According to a recent GovTech article, the City of Alexandria, Virginia will save $1 million over the next 6 years through its use of cloud computing services. A few tips stand out:

- Standardize computers, operating systems, and software packages to save money on licensing costs.
- Evaluate if your users are suffering from disruptions or obstacles to productivity. If so, it’s a good opportunity to reevaluate your information technology.
- Don’t ignore your phone systems. These are often very expensive, but the City saved money from transitioning off of Blackberries to iPhone/Androids. Cloud computing VoIP options may also help reduce costs.

You may feel your municipality or organization is in the Dark Ages of information technology with aging computers and software, and that modern trends have passed you by. Actually, if so, this is the best time to explore cloud options.
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