camera technology becomes more talked about and implemented at cities, it’s
easy to focus only on the actual body cameras. But similar to buying and implementing
any shiny new toys—whether it’s new software or buying new computers—the
purchase of a new technology that’s integrated with an existing poor technology
infrastructure will only lead to frustration and risk.
A recent article in GovTech talks about this issue from a cloud
standpoint and brings up some important points. But for small and medium cities
with few staff and limited information technology resources, we feel there are
some higher-level, more basic questions that need to be asked.
to get excited about body camera technology, and it’s less exciting to think
about your boring, backend information technology. But without the right data
storage, retention policies, security, management, and data backup plan in
place, your body camera technology investment could become a gigantic waste or
risk a legal disaster. Body cameras are another sign that technology is
accelerating at light speed—so make sure your information technology is keeping
about body camera technology in more detail, please contact us.
To get the most eyeballs, the media will obviously publish headlines with the most sensational stories about cybercrime. It’s easy to read stories about the Sony hacking, the Target data breaches, or cyberterrorism worries from national governments and think that those are the most common nature of cyber-attacks. However, those kinds of events are rare. Additionally, such sophisticated hackers often go after very high profile targets’not your small- or medium-sized city.
This is an
important point because you’ll feel helpless if you think these are normal
security threats. You’ll feel that it’s too expensive to invest in data
security when it’s impossible to prevent the best cybercriminals from stealing
your information. But it’s the most common, everyday threats that actually
cause the most damage to cities. And you can prevent most of these threats with
relatively inexpensive information security investments.
worrying about the rare instances of governments or James Bond-level villains
coming after your city, you need to be worried more about the following
realistic, common security threats.
security threats are what you need to be most worried about. Every scenario
listed above is something that threatens you on a daily basis. And these are
security threats you can absolutely protect against. Most importantly, cyber
security is not just a technology issue. Experienced IT professionals must work
in tandem with city administrators to set and clarify policy, and employees must
be trained to detect basic security threats and only receive authorized access
to information. Worry about protecting yourself against 99% of the most common
security threats, instead of worrying about the rare 1%.
about cybersecurity in more detail, please contact us.
How much is your city at risk for a devastating security
breach or permanent data loss? Do you need a quick way to assess your current
In case you missed our Georgia Municipal Association (GMA)
presentation and live webinar on April 24, 2015, GMA has provided the audio recording and slides. Use this information to ask yourself:
While you probably hear stories in the news about security
breaches at large government organizations where data is stolen and often
permanently lost, know that this isn’t just a big government problem—it’s a major problem for small and medium cities.
In our webinar, we provide small city examples of real situations that can
cripple cities like yours.
Don’t become a victim to a security breach or lose your data
unnecessarily. Listen to our GMA webinar or review the presentation slides to assess if your city has cybersecurity gaps that make you vulnerable to attack.
As your city
grows or you buy more IT equipment, you might run into difficulties as the
entire setup starts to get a bit unwieldy. And with the plethora of now common
information technology items such as high-speed Internet, mobile devices (like
smartphones and tablets), and cloud computing, it becomes harder and harder to
identify how everything needs to be connected. For example:
information technology needs to grow along with an organization, it becomes
harder and harder to scale without the help of IT professionals who know how to
connect all of your hardware and software together. There are a few areas that
will impact your city negatively unless you have the proper IT support.
As you can
see, the multiplication of devices (desktop, laptop, mobile), software
applications, and remote worker needs has made information technology more and
more complex over the years—even for smaller cities. A small city used to be
able to get away with a few computers and some off-the-shelf software, but
today a setup like that introduces too much risk if something goes wrong. To
make your city operations hum along like clockwork, you need help and
assistance to connect all of your IT together and make sure that it’s
helping—not hindering—your productivity. And especially when new technologies
like body cameras will become required and standard for your cities, you want
to make sure your basic technology foundation is set up properly so that you
can scale and integrate new technologies with ease.
To talk about
IT connectedness in more detail, please contact us.
think they’re so careful when selecting technology vendors. After all, RFPs are
meant to slow the purchasing process down, ensure that you thoroughly evaluate
a selection of vendors, and pick the best one. However, many technology vendors
are skilled at simply making the sale. They know what to say, they know how to
present a deceptively low price point that withstands legal scrutiny, and they
know how to maneuver through government red tape.
We find that
cities often don’t realize the hidden costs that can come from improperly
evaluating, selecting, and working with technology vendors. When we offer
“vendor management” as part of our services, we often examine the following areas
to make sure that technology vendors are providing you the exact services you
need for a fair price—without bleeding away your money.
we recommend that you make sure a watchdog of sorts oversees and interacts with
your technology vendors. That watchdog can be an experienced member of your
staff or a vendor experienced in municipal IT who has no financial incentive
tied to the vendors you select. As a bonus tip, be careful if your technology
solution vendors recommend other vendors, especially when they have financial
incentives to upsell or cross-sell different products. When technology vendors
don’t have your best interests in mind, there is a risk for wasting money. By
more closely keeping an eye on requirements, hidden costs, contracts, setup and
installation, and ongoing support communication, you’ll more likely reap the
most from your technology investment.
To talk about vendor management in more detail, please contact us.
Are you cybersecure? Are you protected against data loss?
Are you ready if a hacker decides to steal your information?
As cities rely more and more on technology, cybersecurity
expectations and accountability becomes greater and greater. Don’t get caught
off guard by a cyberattack. Our own Nathan Eisner, Chief Operations Officer at
Sophicity, will talk to city staff and elected officials about the
non-technical foundation required to effectively protect government
data—without busting your budget.
We’ll be broadcasting live from Lavonia, Georgia. Join us
online to watch the entire presentation.
online to reserve your seat today.
recall the story of Homer’s Iliad
where the seemingly unbeatable city of Troy was brought down by a simple trick:
the famous Trojan horse. Left behind by the supposedly retreating Greek army, the
Trojans took the horse as a war trophy. But Greek soldiers were hidden inside.
In the dark of night, soldiers leaped out of the wooden horse, unsealed the
gates for the rest of the returning Greek army, and destroyed the city. It’s
not a coincidence that computer viruses today are sometimes called Trojans.
It’s the same idea—one simple virus can take down your entire city.
like we’re exaggerating, but we’ve encountered quite a few instances over the
last few years when a city will feel that investing in information technology
is too expensive. They instead take shortcuts and feel everything is all right as
long as nothing serious happens. But then...there is always an EVENT. And it’s
deadly serious. A hacker steals financial information and money. Mission
critical data is wiped out and there is no backup copy. The website is defamed
and causes serious public embarrassment for days, weeks, and even months.
of a simple virus. The fact that it’s easy for even a tech-savvy person to occasionally be fooled by a virus means that you need more than a free antivirus
program installed on your desktops. Here are some mission critical IT
investments that you need so that it’s much less likely that a virus takes your
insurance, investments in information technology can seem pointless, unfair,
and expensive because you don’t see anything tangible in your day to day
operations. But that’s the point. A sign that you’re making the right
investments is when your day-to-day problems are minimized. And when a virus
hits, that’s like suddenly becoming ill or needing surgery. That’s when
insurance saves the day.
for cities that invest in information technology, they know that:
To talk about viruses and technology investments in more detail, please contact us.
Whatever your politics, personal, non-government, or poorly overseen government email accounts have plagued Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, and many government entities
such as the IRS, the Environmental Protection Agency, states, and municipalities. The root cause of many of these tortuously complex scandals and investigations is simple: Using personal email accounts instead of a government email account.
Just look at what happens when someone wants to access those
emails. You may like or dislike Hillary Clinton, but it’s objectively a problem
when she cannot easily produce information related to her role as a government
employee. Plus, the risks of using personal email go beyond transparency. If
your IT staff or vendor isn’t managing your email, who is? Your free email
provider? Are they providing the right level of antispam, or backing up your
emails? Not a chance.
It’s clear that open records laws and the push for
transparency makes it less and less excusable to use personal email accounts
for city business. If you’re still using personal email accounts at your city,
ask yourself the following questions.
If you feel behind the technology curve on email, you’re not
alone. If people at Hillary Clinton’s level are wrestling with it, then it’s
understandable that many other government entities are too. But now is the time
to act. Auditors, lawyers, and the public are becoming less forgiving when
public officials cannot provide emails about something critical to the public
interest. Business-class email allows you to easily respond to open records
requests instead of losing emails in the murk of personal accounts, and it
ensures that employees cannot delete or misplace critical information.
To talk in more detail about email and open records laws, please contact us.
While states vary in their cybersecurity
laws, it’s clear that the stakes are rising for cities to protect their data
from loss or theft. Kentucky’s HB 5 is a great example of how states are
starting to push for higher cybersecurity accountability, and other states are
sure to follow. And it makes sense. With taxpayer dollars funding public
services, it’s important that citizens know their information is protected if
they are required to hand it over for taxes, public safety and municipal court
requirements, business licenses, etc.
Ensuring that you’re cybersecure starts
with certain information technology essentials. Whether you’ve neglected to
invest in your IT for a while or are continually improving it year after year,
it’s worth taking a look to see if you’ve got the right cybersecurity foundation in
Having basics such as data backup,
offsite data storage, business-class email, document management, and IT
professionals monitoring and maintaining your hardware and software will go a
long way toward meeting most of your cybersecurity needs. In rare cases, you
might need more specialized security such as encrypting single computers or
building a private cloud, but investing in information technology essentials
means most of your cybersecurity worries go away. While IT may seem costly sometimes,
ask yourself, “What’s the cost of a data breach if citizens’ personal
information is stolen?”
To talk more about cybersecurity, please contact us.
In the early
days, websites worked a lot like one-way brochures or printed material. You
created something for someone to read, they read it, and the “transaction”
ended there. Perhaps contact information or a next step existed, but it wasn’t
that important. Websites simply communicated information to people, and that
terms like “calls to action” and “conversion” are inescapable when talking
about modern websites. All this means is that websites have become ways to get
your audience to interact with you. In other words, you get them to do
something. If your website shows signs that no one is taking action based on
the information you provide, then it’s considered a failure or a wasted
it might be easier to avoid measuring this kind of engagement, but you will
serve citizens better if you pay more attention to “calls to action” on your
website. In fact, you’re probably already seeing citizens engage more heavily
with some parts of your website than other parts.
some common calls to action that you may want to add, enhance, and improve on
your city’s website.
think of more calls to action beyond the five listed above. No matter what they
are, calls to action help get your citizens to do something, to engage with
you. Signs of their activity will show unmistakable proof that your website is
useful to citizens. You may also find that some calls to action are less
popular, or that calls to action may be too hard to find. Fixing and tweaking
the way you engage with citizens will go a long way toward improving the way
you communicate to the outside world through your website and make it much more
useful to people.
To talk in more detail about website calls to action, please contact us.
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