CitySmart Blog

Friday, January 1, 2021
Dave Mims, CEO
Friday, December 25, 2020
Dave Mims, CEO
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Ashton Hollingsworth, Account Manager
Ashton Hollingsworth

Many towns and cities still underspend on information technology in order to save money. Or, at least they think they are saving money. In reality, the lack of IT investment impacts the work of municipal employees every day in small ways. And these lost hours, the inability to complete tasks, and incessant delays lead to real hard costs in dollars.

If your car broke down once a week even though you paid $500 for it, would you consider this purchase a good deal? That’s the same reasoning behind underspending on IT. Its malfunctioning will sap the lifeblood from your workforce while bleeding money from your budget.

Let’s look at some ways that “saving” money for your town or city prevents your employees from getting their jobs done.

1. Slow and crashing computers

When servers and computers are old, unsupported by the hardware vendor, and kept until they die, they strain to keep up with modern software applications and the internet’s evolution. Consider your smartphone. You often decide to trade it in when the device can barely handle browsing the internet, running your apps, or storing your files anymore. The same rationale holds true with servers and computers.

Hardware needs replacing every 3-5 years, and even newer hardware needs regular support—patching, upgrades, and updates. These best practices help desktops, laptops, and servers function at an optimal speed. If your servers and computers are at the point where their slowness and freezing are noticeable, then you are wasting the time of your employees.

2. Malfunctioning equipment

Beyond slow and crashing computers, malfunctioning equipment can also interfere with people getting their jobs done. For example:

  • Your internet access is often spotty and goes out at critical times.
  • Your printer doesn’t work for long periods of time due to some “glitch.”
  • Your wireless routers always need resetting and never seem to provide consistent service.

Recurring problems like these lower the morale of employees, raise frustration levels, and prevent work from getting done. Often, the root cause of these problems is easily solved—but the right IT resources are not around to correct these issues.

3. Members of your staff become the “IT people”

Yes, the city clerk, police chief, or a star employee may feel good that they have the technical knowledge to solve a few IT problems. But remember their jobs. Does a city clerk, police chief, or star employee have enough on their plate to keep them busy every week without serving as your IT support? (The answer should be “yes”!)

Non-technical staff becoming “IT people” is a waste of their time. Even if they are technically savvy, tackling IT issues takes up a lot of time. Experienced IT engineers might start with a simple issue such as an employee unable to log into their email or having trouble installing updates to a software application—but the “simple” issue may turn into an hours-long complex issue as they drill down into it. You never know, but a non-technical person getting sucked into such an issue can easily waste a quarter or half of a day.

4. Minor issues unable to get resolved

Minor IT issues will crop up all the time. Content doesn’t want to load onto the website. The printer isn’t connecting to your computer. You can’t find a document. Simple, and easily resolved with the right IT helpdesk. Yet, it’s these kinds of tiny issues that add up to a nagging sense of frustration as employees waste time stymied or working around IT problems that could be fixed by experienced IT engineers in less than an hour. You might brush these kinds of issues off when things are okay, but what about when you need to find that document, print that handout, or post that update to the website related to your city council meeting taking place in a few hours?

5. Inability to find data quickly

Underinvestment in IT usually also means there isn’t a centralized records / document management system in place or a business-class email system in place. This makes finding documents or emails somewhat tricky. A document or email:

  • Might be on a single employee’s computer, located…somewhere.
  • Might be on a consumer-grade email system with limited functionality to find a specific email.
  • Might be on a server containing shared folders that are completely unorganized.

Without a centralized records / document management system or email system in place, your employees will usually store documents wherever they please or wherever is convenient. The inability to find information when needed—whether for work-related purposes or Open Records Requests—is a big, big timewaster.

Towns and cities need an IT helpdesk staffed by senior IT engineers with many years of experience supporting municipalities. Municipal leagues have seen the importance of such a service to get towns and cities protected and productive. When you invest in the right IT helpdesk, then all the above problems mostly go away—giving you a big sigh of relief and leaving you to focus on your work.

Interested in lifting the burden of technology issues from your employees’ shoulders? Reach out to us today.

Monday, November 30, 2020
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications

We hope to see you at the following municipal events this week!

CCM’s 38th Annual Convention
December 1, 2020
Virtual Event

AAMCA Winter Conference
December 2-4
Huntsville, AL

Thursday, November 26, 2020
Dave Mims, CEO
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Dave Mims, CEO
Dave Mims

As you know, Sophicity was acquired by VC3 in July. We’re excited to announce that, starting next month, we will have one combined municipal-focused newsletter. Our newsletter will still contain technology news, articles about important topics such as cybersecurity, data backup, and IT support but also include more tips, best practices, and upcoming municipal events across the 16 states we serve. In other words, you will continue to receive valuable technology-related news and content tailored to municipalities but with even more ground covered related to technology topics (such as voice solutions and business intelligence). You don’t have to do a thing: Simply await your next newsletter in December!

For now, we've packed a lot into our November newsletter including some amazing new city websites, a featured guide for reducing video storage and archiving costs, ways to lower your cyber liability insurance premiums, and more.

Enjoy our newsletter. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have something to share with our local government community.


Dave Mims

New Clients

Paullina, Iowa
Jasper, Alabama
Lake City, Arkansas

New Websites Launched

Bowdon, Georgia
Williamson, Georgia
Callender, Iowa
Blue Ridge, Georgia

Featured Guide

Municipalities are capturing greater amounts of squad car video and enormous amounts of body camera video footage. One of the key issues with this technology is storage costs. In this guide, learn about four ways you can keep body camera video storage and archiving costs low and predictable for your police department.

Featured Case Studies

Breda, Iowa
Vincent, Alabama
Auburn, Georgia

Featured Cybersecurity Article

8 Ways to Lower Your Skyrocketing Cyber Liability Insurance Premiums

With sophisticated cyberattacks threatening your organization, it’s a good idea to consider cyber liability insurance. This specific type of insurance offsets the costs of internet and IT-related liabilities that may lead to a cyber incident—such as a data breach—that disrupts your operations.


Featured Data Backup Article

Four Reasons You Need Data Backups

Data loss incidents have grown more complex and many backup solutions aren’t keeping up. To make matters worse, it can be hard to know if your backups are truly working as they should. So, what are your backups really protecting against?


Featured Helpdesk Article

Is Your Municipality’s IT Support Partnering or Reacting?

There’s a big difference between IT partnering and IT reacting. An IT partnership involves qualities that dig deep into your technology challenges, and these qualities are important for IT engineers to have when helping towns and cities. This article outlines the 5 most important qualities.


Featured Document Management Article

5 Ways Document Management Saves Valuable City Clerk Time

Modernizing a city’s document management system may get shot down if nothing seems “broken.” Yet, many time-saving elements of a modern document management system can help city clerks do their jobs better and get more done. Read about 5 ways a document management system can save valuable city clerk time.


Newsletter Signup

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We hope to see you at these upcoming events!

CCM’s 38th Annual Convention
December 1, 2020
Virtual Event

AAMCA Winter Conference
December 2-4, 2020
Huntsville, AL

Monday, November 16, 2020
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications

We hope to see you at the following municipal event this week!

AARC Fall 2020 Virtual Conference
November 17, 2020
Virtual Event

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Matt Wood, Network Infrastructure Consultant
Matt Wood

Last year, Akron, Ohio experienced a cyberattack that took out many of its servers, computers, and technology systems for about two weeks. This cyberattack affected critical systems such as Akron’s online 311 system. According to GovTech, “The city's response included a direct appeal from Mayor Dan Horrigan to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for National Guard assistance. The FBI joined the Guard's cyber team and the city in an investigation that will take weeks or months.”

The GovTech article points out that, in the wake of the cyberattack, Akron considered switching to the cloud to mitigate future risk. For many years, we’ve written blog posts about why towns and cities should consider the cloud, and we’ve helped municipalities transition from on-premise hardware to the cloud. While a few rare situations may not apply, the cloud is generally a great option to help fend off cyberattacks and reduce liability in case a cyberattack occurs.

So how does cloud technology help with your cybersecurity and liability? Here are five ways.

1. Resiliency against cyberattacks

If your servers get attacked, they often stand and fall based on your limited IT staff or single-person vendors who take care of them. We see many instances where towns and cities just don’t have the appropriate resources, budget, or expertise to keep up with security patching, proactively monitor for security risks, and provide an appropriate and immediate response after an incident occurs. As a result, servers, computers, software, and systems often have gaping security holes that make them a ticking time bomb ripe for a security incident.

When you instead store and access your information in the cloud, which only requires a computer and internet access, then you eliminate the need to maintain and secure hardware onsite. Cloud providers host your applications in massive data centers where they are always staying ahead of security threats. While you will still need to take some security precautions on your own, cloud applications often cover certain basic security fundamentals that decrease the chance of a cyberattack occurring.

2. Lessened risk of permanent data loss

Data backup and disaster recovery is ideal for the cloud, especially with offsite data backup to help with disaster recovery. In the cloud, snapshots get taken of your information, systems, data, and files at various points (such as once a day). Let’s say you experience a severe ransomware attack. You would have the option to return to a point before the ransomware attack (such as one or two days before). You may lose some data, but not as much if you had your own servers onsite and they were unusable.

With cloud data backup and disaster recovery, you would still need to test these backups to make sure that you can restore critical systems and information. But once you restore that information, you can be up and running in hours or days after a cyberattack—rather than weeks as in Akron’s case. Cloud data backup also works great for natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, or fires.

3. Access to information anywhere/anytime after an incident

It’s important to note that you also have access to your information anywhere/anytime all the time with the cloud. However, this feature of the cloud is especially important after a security incident. Let’s say some computers get infected with a virus or ransomware attack. After the systems are restored to a healthy state, you simply replace the infected computers with new ones and connect to your applications as if nothing happened. You can even access your systems from home, while traveling, or (in case of a natural disaster) from an offsite location in case city hall is destroyed.

4. Scalable technology at lower cost

Cloud applications also scale up and down based on your needs. This reduces your upfront investment and ongoing costs, while also eliminating the costs of maintaining hardware. A great thing about cloud technology is that large cloud providers are able to offer incredibly advanced data center technology and application services to many, many organizations. Similar to a municipal league’s insurance risk pool, the volume of customers all receiving the same services allows cloud providers to keep costs low.

Part of those low costs come from giving you exactly what you need. Instead of buying software licenses that might be overkill for your municipality, you can granularly select a certain number of users served per month and adjust that number every month as needed.

How does this impact security and liability? You can select only the users you feel need access to certain applications, restrict their access to certain information, and delete users easily if they are terminated or leave your municipality. By giving specific users exactly what they need to do their jobs, you lessen the risk of unauthorized individuals accessing sensitive information.

In the interviews with Akron officials, they now wisely see the benefits of the cloud. Your municipality doesn’t have to wait until a disaster occurs. Act now to assess your hardware, software, and systems and look for opportunities to mitigate the risk of a cyberattack by moving to the cloud.

Need help transitioning to the cloud or figuring out the best way to do it? Reach out to us today.

Friday, October 30, 2020
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications
Monday, October 26, 2020
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications

We hope to see you at the following municipal event this week!

ALM Municipal Leadership Conference
October 27-29, 2020
Montgomery, AL

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