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.
With technology so fast-paced today, cities are pressured more
and more to modernize their information technology. But investments in IT
infrastructure, websites, document management, and ongoing support all
typically add up to a lot of cost. However, the City of Jonesboro knew that it
needed a better website to engage citizens, securely stored documents following
state records retention schedules that were also accessible anytime/anywhere,
and proactive IT maintenance and support that lessened problems instead of just
reacting to fires.
In one fell swoop, the City of Jonesboro’s investment in IT
in a Box—which GMA constructed as one package to keep the costs of essential
city technology as low as possible—gave the city a new, more service-friendly
website, removed any worry as to the security and integrity of documents
needing to follow state records retention laws, and provided experienced IT
professionals that support the city without the costs of hiring additional
Ricky Clark, City Clerk at the City of Jonesboro, took the
time to discuss the importance of a website that engages citizens, documents
stored in the cloud, and even a “Taste of IT” that shows the human side of
GMA’s technology service.
It’s more welcoming and inviting, showing we are a
friendly, homelike city that’s deeply involved with our residents. The biggest
theme that I focused on with the website was transparency. When I arrived at
the city, we received a lot of phone calls about things that people should have
been able to easily to look up on the website. But the information just wasn’t
available. For a small municipality, the key to a tight knit government is having
a hands on approach with our residents. With that in mind, I tried to think of
any questions that citizens would ask or information that citizens would need. We
also included useful features like email notifications. Overall, we helped make
useful and important information more transparent and accessible 24/7/365. Having
this kind of website also helps with economic development because there are businesses
that may want to relocate to your city.
Before our new website, we had to send all of our content
to our website hosting provider and they posted it for us. That caused a
significant delay. With our current website, we upload our own content. No more
delays or waiting periods. If we have an emergency or special event that we
want to communicate immediately, we can post the information right away.
If we have an issue, we simply submit a ticket detailing
that issue just as if we had IT staff in house. The ticket is put into a queue
and then Sophicity’s engineers remedy or fix the problem. What’s neat is that they
can fix many issues remotely without traveling to our city. Plus, I like how
Sophicity provides us a single point of contact for all of our issues. That
makes it easy to communicate with them. We also have tracking capabilities and
can escalate an issue if it’s urgent.
Sophicity also knows which software vendors have state
contracts, and so they help us get hardware and software much cheaper than if
we were to purchase it from a retail store. Just recently, Sophicity helped us
get two printers for the cost of one. Plus, my staff doesn’t have time to call
different vendors to source any necessary hardware, software, equipment, and parts.
Sophicity does all of that for us.
We have a document repository stored in the cloud. That’s
where all of our information that used to be stored on our onsite mainframe
systems now resides. With the different document retention policies that I have
to follow as a city clerk, it’s important for me to know that our documents are
protected and have some form of integrity all of the time. Sophicity gave us an
offsite document repository to store all of our information, so we don’t have
to worry about losing documents if our building burned down.
It’s also much easier—and cheaper—to find and access documents.
For example, if someone asks me a question about minutes from a 1993 meeting, it’s
simple for me to just go onto the document repository online from anywhere and
retrieve those documents. No more looking through the paper minute books at the
office. Once a city digitizes its files and stores them in the cloud, the sky
is the limit as far as searching capability, access, and time savings.
Look at it from an analytical standpoint. Total up the
amount you are paying for IT infrastructure, document repositories, cloud
services, etc. and compare that cost to the cost you would pay per license with
IT in a Box. Think of someone’s salary and benefits, and then compare that cost
with IT in a Box where you don’t have to worry about additional personnel
Before you knock it, give it a try. At least get a
demonstration and see how things work. For example, the cost of a simple
website alone will be around $15,000-$20,000 or more depending on how complex
you want it. By contrast, IT in a Box provides cities a website and a lot of other
great software under one package. And those aspects of the IT in a Box package
are going to be the way governments are headed with their IT infrastructure
As cities know, it’s not possible to have 100% operational
uptime, so I feel the best way to handle that situation is to have someone
actually maintaining and monitoring your IT 24/7/365. With IT in a Box, you
only pay for licenses that you use under your specific plan—and you don’t pay
the full cost of salaries for the engineers that help you out.
To show their support for the day-to-day operations staff
at the city of Jonesboro, Sophicity drove down, brought hamburgers, hot dogs,
and plenty of other food, and cooked it up for us. It was not only a Taste of
IT, but it gave us the face of IT. We saw the faces of the people who were behind
making our systems operate from day to day. Our employees and elected officials
enjoyed it. Many times in city government, we work with companies but never see
them. We simply cut them checks. A Taste of IT proved that Sophicity goes above
and beyond to show that they’re thankful for our business. In my book, that
goes a long way.
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.
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