With data backup, you often think of worst-case
scenarios. What happens if a tornado hits your city? What happens if a server
dies? But there are more common scenarios that can affect you on a day-to-day
basis, like losing a file or some important data.
In those moments, panic sets in. All you know is that you
want your data back as fast as possible. A disaster to you might be losing that
important report you worked on all morning, and it can hit you just as hard as
Luckily, most backup scenarios recover data in a matter
of seconds or minutes. If you’re struggling to recover data in terms of days or
weeks for most of these scenarios, then you probably don’t have the right IT
infrastructure in place. Ask yourself: How fast can I recover my data in each
With the cloud and related technologies that make it
easier to save, store, back up, and recover data, it becomes harder and harder
to really lose important data anymore. However, life is not perfect, and you
will occasionally lose data due to human error, software glitches, and hardware
failures. When that happens, your chance of quickly recovering your data
increases the more you invest in modern technologies that reduce such risk.
So the next time you’re missing a file, you hopefully can
at least say, “Let me grab the previous version from a few minutes ago,”
grumble a little bit at the few minutes you’ve lost, and move on quickly.
To talk more about data backup, please contact us.
In our last Website Page by Page blog post, we discussed the important
homepage—the public face of your city. One item that keeps people coming back
to your homepage is news. What’s happening in your city? Your homepage headlines
will lead people to your news page, which might be one of the most visited
pages on your site.
Since news will be read by many people and keep them informed
about local government, economic development, and community events, you need to
make sure the news page stays fresh, readable, and user-friendly. Especially
when local newspapers may tell their own side of a story, you want to make sure
your news items contain up-to-date information about any important issues in
order to counter the impressions caused by second-hand information.
Here are some tips to help improve the quality and
readability of your news page.
As a bonus, once you’ve got your news content rolling out
like a machine, think about sharing your news items on social media outlets
such as Twitter and Facebook. Provide links when you share so that people will
visit your city’s website. Social media is a great place to extend the reach of
your news items to a wider audience.
And remember, keep your news fresh! A city website with
no current news really does make you look bad to the public. Your city does
many great things—so talk about those things and share your news with the
To talk more about website content in more detail, please contact us.
If you’re using an IT vendor, one of the most expensive
costs to cities is usually onsite visits. Many IT vendors bill by the hour. Not
coincidentally, they seem to be at your city quite a lot, fixing something or
But IT vendors should not be billing you unpredictably
and giving you budgeting difficulties as a result. If you experience
unpredictable IT costs due to many onsite visits during the year, something is
wrong. We find in case after case that lack of process and professional
knowledge about a city’s IT needs is usually at the root of the problem.
However, if you’re used to this kind of IT support and
think it’s normal, here are some common pain points that may cause you to
reexamine your ideas. And the great news is that these pain points are easily
avoided with a more professional, experienced IT vendor.
When evaluating your current IT vendor or looking to hire
one, make sure they:
While you may like your IT vendor, they shouldn’t be putting
out fires onsite all of the time. Onsite visits should happen under special
circumstances, such as a major IT issue or a proactive quarterly checkup. By
making sure that you’re not getting taken advantage of, you can cut your costs
and end up preventing most IT problems before anyone needs to visit by working
with a more process-driven, experienced IT vendor.
To talk more about the cost of onsite visits, please contact us.
Cities sometimes ask us about whether they should switch
to cloud productivity software—which might include word processing and creating
spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and audio/video. If you’ve been using
the same productivity software for years, a switch to the cloud becomes a major
decision to consider.
No matter what decision you make, you should consider the
specific needs of your city and the amount of work it will take to transition
to the cloud from whatever version of software you’re using now. That may
include a lot of document transfer (including moving data to the cloud), some
investments in new technology (depending on the age of your current version of software),
and some training for your staff if they are unfamiliar with any new features.
That being said, here are a few aspects to consider about
moving your productivity software to the cloud.
As you can see, there are some pros and cons to consider
before switching to cloud productivity software. The biggest advantages are mostly
technological and relate to the advantages of the cloud. Moving to the cloud
also involves serious financial considerations, so a switch may cut your
expenses. Talk to an IT professional about analyzing if a switch is best for
your situation, and if you’ll be able to save money while also improving the
quality of using productivity software for your city staff.
To talk more about switching to cloud productivity software, please contact us.
In the early wild west days of computers and the
Internet, swapping copies of software among friends and family was common.
After all, software was easy to copy and share, and who was going to catch you?
This habit lingered well into the 2000s, even in businesses, educational
institutions, and government entities, until software providers became much stricter
about enforcing piracy laws.
However, both from old habits but also the current
mentality that many things on the Internet should be free (news, music, videos,
etc.), many people at cities sometimes think that using unlicensed software is
okay—especially if the justification is to save money.
Whether your software is unlicensed, copied illegally, or
purchased from an unauthorized reseller, you actually run a significant risk
when you use pirated software. Primarily, you face three major consequences.
If these warnings have you worried about the state of your
software, we offer a few tips that address most of the common scenarios that cause
cities to accidentally purchase pirated software.
To save a bit of money, you don’t want to take the risk
of a lawsuit or fine by illegally using software. Beyond the risks, it’s simply
a better investment to use licensed copies of software. You receive the best
quality versions, software upgrades, technical support, and customer service—all
of which help make the use of your software more productive. Plus, your IT
staff or vendor can easily help you when you run into issues, since they can
work with the software vendor to resolve them.
To talk more about unlicensed versus licensed software, please contact us.
If your city unfortunately ever gets a virus or malware
attack, it’s easy to panic. That’s exactly what the Economic Development Administration did in a recent report outlining how
they made a series of bad decisions in reaction to a malware attack. Those
decisions were based on inaccurate information and included destroying IT
components (such as keyboards), replacing IT infrastructure, and incorrectly
While an extreme case, there are several lessons here
that are good for cities to keep in mind during a security crisis. After all,
crises are moments to test whether your policies, procedures, and people are
well-equipped to handle your most challenging technology problems—such as a
virus or malware attack.
Overall, cities can be well-prepared to deal with a
crisis such as a virus or malware attack. Of course, prevention is best: 24/7
monitoring and alerting, enterprise-level antivirus software, and clear
security policies and training for city staff. But if the worst happens, damage
can be contained by having experienced IT professionals apply best practices
and processes to addressing the problem.
To talk more about dealing with virus and malware
threats, please contact us.
It’s called antivirus, so it must protect you
against all viruses. Right? Don’t we wish.
Unfortunately, there is more to antivirus protection than
just installing antivirus software on your personal computer. It’s better than
nothing, and having it installed and working on your computer is critical when
defending against the worst virus atrocities on the Internet. But simply
installing consumer-grade antivirus software on individual computers will not
protect you against viruses at your city.
So why isn’t consumer-grade antivirus software good
enough? Let’s find out why.
So, just because you have antivirus software on your
computer does not mean you’re protected from viruses. City employees still need
to use common sense when opening emails, files, and attachments. And while
antivirus software isn’t perfect, the best antivirus software for cities is
professionally monitored and kept up-to-date without users having to worry
about their individual computers.
A virus can be absolutely destructive, and we’ve seen a
single virus originating with just one user threaten to shut down an entire
city’s operations until it was removed. Make sure that you are as protected as
possible so that your city stays operational.
To talk about antivirus in more detail, please contact us.
Now that we’ve discussed the key PCI DSS compliance
topics (vulnerability management, data protection, network fundamentals,
what happens next? Once you take care of these important security issues, you
need to keep these areas front and center at all times. That means continually
monitoring all of your online payment security data, testing your security
regularly, and creating an information security policy for your city.
While ongoing monitoring and testing can involve some
time, money, and resources, the efforts pay off. In this post, we cover five
key areas that you need to stay up on, and why.
Outline laws and the repercussions
of breaking those laws. Create a user-friendly document that outlines important
points at a high level, and separate out employee information from technical or
legal information. Make it easy for employees to go to the sections that
pertain to them.
Is this a lot of work? Yes. But since we’re dealing with
measures that protect your citizens’ credit card and payment information, the
efforts are necessary and worth it.
Read our past articles covering all PCI DSS standards by clicking
on any of the links below.
Payment Security - Two Network Fundamentals
It Means to “Protect” Your Data
Your Technology for Online Payments
Online Payment Access, You Want No Surprises
To talk about online payment security in more detail, please contact us.
In a recent study conducted by Evolve IP (and reported in IT Business Edge), the findings from talking to over 1,000
financial decision makers along with IT professionals showed a clear gap of
cloud acceptance. For those executives and IT directors who make financial
decisions about whether to invest in the cloud, 70% believed that the cloud has
value. Only 53% of IT professionals said the same thing.
Why? Should we be concerned that the “IT professionals”
value the cloud less?
One significant reason that the IT professionals valued
the cloud less was a failure to fully understand the benefits of moving from
capital expenses (mostly upfront one-time investments) to operational expenses
(such as a monthly fee). They also appeared to have concerns about cloud
reliability and performance, which appears to showcase a more technical
understanding of the cloud than the executives have.
So should you invest in the cloud? To merge both the
insights about the positive financial benefits along with alleviating the
technical concerns, we’d like to add to the dialogue about this study by
pointing out some important considerations.
The Infoworld article goes on to state that because the
cloud has been so effective at reducing costs, less money is being spent on
traditional IT hardware and software. Like typical economic spirals in the past,
that means the cloud will only become more prevalent as an industry standard while
traditional hardware and software eventually will fade away.
Change is often confusing and difficult, but the cloud is
for real. As you can see, this is not something to be on the fence about—especially
with so many of the leading indicators pointing in one direction. Your city
will benefit financially and improve its IT reliability and performance by
considering cloud services.
To talk about cloud investments in more detail, please contact us.
It’s fair to say that most cities must operate with tight
budgets. Making any investment requires a lot of prioritizing and debate. As one
of the more expensive investments on a city’s list, information technology
often needs to prove its value. No matter how positive the benefits IT
investments can bring, the monetary value must show itself too.
Historically, IT has always had trouble proving its
value. That’s because, on the surface, it is an operational cost. Operational
costs tend to look like cost centers that don’t save you money or provide a return
on your investment, despite being necessary costs. At the same time, just
because IT’s value isn’t immediately obvious doesn’t mean it can’t be shown.
Whether you’re evaluating existing IT investments or
considering new ones, the following areas can help you understand how to get
the most value.
If you’re needing to make the business case for IT at your
city, or if you’ve been skeptical of investing too much in IT, we recommend
starting with area number 1 above and working your way down to number 5. By
gaining some easy wins first, you are often better able to justify additional
investments in the future if you’ve shown that you’ve already saved your city
The most important point is that you need to see how the
cost of IT is outweighed by the value of IT. It’s one thing if you reject a
“nice-to-have” piece of software because it isn’t a fit at this time. But if you
reject things like data backup or have your employees working on old,
unsupported operating systems (like Windows XP), then you’re not tying needed
IT investments to their value. You’re just looking at cost. Look at value too.
That’s the way you will truly be cost conscious.
To talk more about IT value, please contact us.
Our Focus | Products | Resources | Company | Contact | Sitemap | Login
© 2009-2014 Sophicity, all rights reserved. Sophicity®, "We put the IT in City”, and the Sophicity logo are registered trademarks of Sophicity.