As we meet with cities, we find that so much city activity centers on city clerks. They are the heartbeat of any city, and one of their key roles is document management. If you need a document for any reason, all roads lead to the city clerk.
However, despite their role, the city clerk does not have superhuman powers. They are limited by time and technology. With increasing demands and pressures, from customer service to government regulations, any significant document management limitations (or lack of any document management in the case of a paper filing system) cripple their ability to work effectively.
We mostly hear three main concerns from city clerks about their document management:
Thankfully, many cost-effective document management solutions now exist that not only eliminate these problems but also increase operational efficiency.
For a relatively low cost, city clerks can be enabled to handle these challenges through a robust document management system. Just applying state record retention processes automatically to save a city clerk days each year will allow the document management solution to pay for itself—many times over. If you're interested in learning more, contact us about IT in a Box.
Like many municipalities, the City of Oakwood, Ga. struggled with managing its technology and keeping costs associated with it affordable.
Oakwood faced challenges with both its data backup solution and its email system. The city needed data backup to ensure information is never lost. And, the availability of the email system was critical for both City Hall and the police department to ensure during an emergency, hardware failure, or disaster, that city officials would be able to communicate with each other and residents via email.
Likewise, residents would not be able to reach city leaders electronically. Email provides a vital critical communication tool for cities.
Resolving and modernizing these technological challenges was likely going to be an expensive undertaking for Oakwood because of the required hardware, software, and labor costs. Once the initial investment was made, Oakwood would then have to pay ongoing maintenance and support fees because it did not have IT assistance in house.
To address its technology challenges, Oakwood engaged the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) for "IT in a Box," which is powered by Sophicity.
"IT in a Box" delivers a complete IT solution for municipal governments. It includes a website, data backup, offsite storage, email, document management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server and desktop management, vendor management, and a seven-day a week helpdesk.
Using "IT in a Box," Oakwood saw tremendous results in just three months. Sophicity helped Oakwood:
"Sophicity's reliable data backup service gives me piece of mind." - City Manager Stan Brown
"I have been extremely impressed with Sophicity's responsiveness to our needs 24/7." - Chief Randall Moon
Oakwood saved $46,977 (or 54%) of the costs that would typically be seen in modernizing a city network. This helped Oakwood stabilize its technology and create a predictable IT budget.
If you're interested in learning more, contact us about IT in a Box.
Sophicity is an IT services and consulting 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 storage, email, document management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server and desktop management, vendor management, and a seven-day a week helpdesk. Read more about IT in a Box.
A slew of recent articles have pointed out that organizations still using Windows XP or Windows Vista will not be able to use Office 2013. The outcry stems from the fact that XP and Vista are still popular operating systems, and the argument goes that Microsoft is wrong to prevent those people and organizations from using Office 2013.
Of course, these are legitimate concerns. But we look at this issue very differently.
Sometimes we wish hardware and software could be like land, a vehicle, or office furniture. We want our servers and computers to last more than ten years. We want to completely maximize our original investment.
But information technology is different. Think back to your servers and computers in 2001, just ten years ago. Or even in 2006, just five years ago. Think about what did not yet exist, remember your slow computers and cell phones, and recall the limited functionality of websites and online business. It was not that long ago, was it?
Technology moves at light speed. Let's return to XP and Vista, especially in context of running an organization. How would you face the following facts when your organization completely depends on your IT?
Just like a bridge, a road, or a truck that falls into absolute disrepair after decades, IT falls into the same disrepair - but after only three to five years. It may be annoying, but unfortunately it is reality. But there are ways you can stay up to date without having to spend inordinate amounts of money on hardware and software upgrades.
With Office 2013, Microsoft is delivering a productivity suite that is designed to run on new equipment. That is because Office 2013 can take advantage of performance increases built into newer operating systems such as Windows 7 and Windows 8. We see two options depending on your operating system.
Keep in mind that if you are set upon running your servers and computers into the ground, you risk downtime and data loss - especially if those systems are no longer are supported by Microsoft. We recommend a strategy that at least does the following:
Read more about hardware and software lifecycle best practices and contact us if you have additional questions.
The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) has recently partnered with Sophicity to deliver IT in a Box to cities in Georgia. This new service was officially launched by the Georgia Municipal Association on Thursday, July 26, 2012.
IT in a Box is consistent with GMA's mission to not only provide leadership and guidance for cities but also to help local government stay innovative and efficient in serving their citizens.
Lamar Norton, Executive Director of GMA, said:
IT in a Box is aimed at providing cities with state-of-the-art information technology tools supported by experienced, highly skilled IT professionals. This service is being offered through a contract with Sophicity, GMA’s longtime IT consulting partner. The cities of Oakwood, Oxford, and Flowery Branch have piloted the service, and each city has already provided very positive feedback.
For one monthly all-inclusive fee, a city will receive:
Watch an interview with Mike Miller, Mayor of Flowery Branch, and Stan Brown, City Manager of Oakwood sharing their feedback and experience with IT in a Box.
Learn more about this service from the Georgia Municipal Association.
For additional information, please contact:
In 2012 alone, severe weather has challenged the fortitude of many cities around the United States. Massive thunderstorms hit the East Coast in late June and early July, the Southeast was hit by unusual storms back in January, and massive tornadoes slammed the Midwest in February. Recent wildfires and drought conditions have also strained the limited resources of municipalities that serve the West and Midwest.
To combat severe weather-related data loss, many have heard about cloud backup as a kind of modern cure-all. However, recent complaints (such as those quoted in a July 16, 2012 Computerworld article) show that cloud services (including Amazon's Cloud Services) were also affected by the same severe weather that hit various regions of the country. This kind of cloud services failure unfortunately encourages people and organizations to revert back to dangerous practices (such as only keeping one's data onsite).
During severe weather, data backup is especially important for cities since citizens often rely on municipalities for emergency information and services. If the cloud is not a cure-all solution, what is the ultimate answer to a city's data backup needs?
To combat the effects of fire, severe weather, and other disasters, you need to strategically think through your data backup just as you would think through any other municipal disaster recovery policy.
Compare the two figures and you will quickly know if you are in trouble. For example, if you need to be back up in two hours, it's not a good thing if your servers will come back up in three days!
Now that you have a gut level understanding about where you stand with your data backup, you can then explore services and options to better align these numbers. We often deal with cities that need their systems available at all times, so our solution typically recovers files in minutes. In order to assist a city in recovering from a disaster, these files are stored in multiple data centers across the country.
Finally, data backups should be tested frequently to maintain your confidence that you can recover when disaster occurs. Simulate the ultimate disaster such as a massive storm hitting your entire region, a hurricane, or a tornado. Will your data be recovered even in the worst possible case? (The answer should be YES!)
Many IT managers (30 percent) are missing the opportunity to maximize their budgets by transitioning to operational expenditures because they just don’t realize what is available to them, according to the survey.
However, moving federal websites and computer systems to cloud storage rather than using in-house data center storage is one way to make headway on operational expenditures. Agencies can pay for cloud storage like a utility, where cost is based on how much storage they use. In short, federal agencies would save money and use it elsewhere because they wouldn’t have to buy new servers or maintain them.
Additional survey results are available in this recent Next.gov article.
Security breaches can have more severe consequences than lost or stolen data. In the case of one government official in Utah, cybercrime may have led to his resignation.
According to an opinion piece in Government Technology, Utah’s CIO submitted his resignation last month, after the state’s IT officials discovered that health and Medicaid data for nearly 800,000 residents — including 280,000 Social Security numbers — had been stolen from a poorly secured server operated by the state's Department of Technology Services.
According to the story, the state was dealing with a significant increase in cyberattacks in the months preceding the massive security breach – to the extent that they didn’t take the time to conduct preventative measures, such as scanning their networks, to thwart additional risks.
The article, which originally appeared in GOVERNING, is a cautionary tale that demonstrates some of the other negative outcomes of security breaches. At the same time, the piece provides advice on what steps, such as better document classification, that agencies can take to avoid these situations.
Most important, government officials and agencies need to make sure that cybersecurity issues are addressed in an ongoing manner rather than when something goes wrong.
To read the full story, click here.
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