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CitySmart Blog

Monday, October 14, 2019
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications

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

Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association Fall Conference
October 16-18, 2019
Des Moines, Iowa

Friday, October 11, 2019
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Dave Mims, CEO
Dave Mims

The Iowa League of Cities has recently endorsed Sophicity to deliver IT in a Box to cities in Iowa. This new service was officially launched by the Iowa League of Cities in September 2019 at its Annual Conference & Exhibit.

IT in a Box is consistent with the Iowa League of Cities mission to not only provide leadership and guidance for cities but also to help local government stay innovative and efficient in serving their citizens.

In 2018, IT in a Box launched a pilot program to help fully understand Iowa cities’ needs and unique challenges. Those cities included Breda, Van Meter, and Preston. The League believes the pilots were a great success and is excited to now expand the IT in a Box service to cities across the state.

This offering, powered by Sophicity, is tailored to city governments and focuses on unique city needs such as records retention, open records requests, CJIS, and body camera video storage. The flat monthly fee depends on the number of users and servers covered. There is no long-term contract or upfront project fees. Add or decrease users at any time.

For a monthly, all-inclusive fee, a city will receive:

  • Cybersecurity and Computer Maintenance
  • 24x7 Helpdesk
  • Data Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Records / Document Management, Email, and Microsoft Office for Desktops
  • Video Archiving
  • Policy and Compliance
  • Website
  • Vendor Management and Procurement

For additional information, please contact:

Iowa League of Cities
Mickey Shields at (515) 244-7282 or mickeyshields@iowaleague.org

Sophicity
Dave Mims at (770) 670-6940, ext. 110 or davemims@sophicity.com

Monday, October 7, 2019
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications

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

District 10 Fall Meeting
October 9, 2019
Baconton, Georgia

District 3 Fall Meeting
October 10, 2019
East Point, Georgia

District 7 Fall Meeting
October 11, 2019
Thomson, Georgia

Friday, October 4, 2019
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Brian Ocfemia, Engineering Manager
Brian Ocfemia

 

When someone physically hoards items, their bad habits create a “mountain of stuff” that becomes very visible over time. Typically, a breaking point arrives when the problem becomes so overwhelming that people eventually must deal with it. Hoarding can go on for years before someone finally says “Enough! We must do something about it.”

The same thing happens with electronic information—but the problem is less noticeable because the hoarding does not turn into a physical “mountain of stuff.” You might think, “What’s the problem? I’ve got plenty of space to store my data. What does it matter how many files we store, or how we store them?”

In a blog post last year, we talked about a few problems resulting from electronic hoarding that add risk to your city:

  • You’re adding a legal risk to your city.
  • You’re adding an operational burden to your city.
  • You’re adding a storage burden to your city.

While a city may acknowledge an issue with record hoarding, they may wonder where to begin, how to find the time, and how to approach the decluttering process. Consider these hoarding tips and apply them to your document management system to help your city go from cluttered to decluttered.

1. Assess your specific problems and come up with a plan.

Each hoarding situation is different. You need to assess your current situation. Ask yourself:

  • What documents do you have?
  • Where are they stored?
  • How many do you have?
  • Which are the most important?
  • Which are the most used?
  • How are they organized?
  • How are they maintained?
  • How long do you keep documents?
  • What is your process for deleting and disposing of documents?

Once you answer those questions to the best of your ability, you need to come up with a plan to fix any problems revealed. That plan should include:

  • Who will oversee document management at your city?
  • What type of document management solution will you use, and who will be trained on it?
  • How will you organize the information?
  • Where will documents be stored and accessed? Onsite? The cloud?
  • What is the process for documents and records going forward? How does this process align to your records retention policies? How will you handle paper documents?
  • How will you secure documents and restrict access to authorized users?
  • What is your timeline? When do you plan on implementing or reconfiguring your document management system?

If needed, IT professionals and business analysts can help you with the trickier aspects of your document management plan.

2. Start slow.

Hoarders often grow disheartened when they look at their entire pile of clutter. It can overwhelm and discourage them from even starting. It looks impossible to wade through everything, like facing a mountain. That’s why personal organization professionals suggest never tackling everything in one day. Instead, chip away at your stuff in bite-sized chunks.

Maybe you can focus first on one department. Once you get that department done, you will have learned a lot and can apply those lessons to another department. The important thing is to get started somewhere and take one step at a time.

3. Organize documents in some sort of system.

Once you delve into your plan, you want to think hard about how you organize documents. A document management system will help greatly by centralizing documents in one place. That means no more searching though cabinets, on people’s computers, or through shared folders on servers that may or may not contain the documents.

However, you don’t just want to dump documents in the new central location, which would be like a hoarder throwing all their stuff into the living room. It’s there, but not very findable!

Two tools within a document management system can help you organize:

  • Pages, libraries, and folders: At a high level, you can create pages (such as for a department), libraries (such as for a specific function within a department), and folders that can organize specific documents under clear labels. These levels of hierarchy can be planned out and help give you an organizational structure to your document storage.
  • Tagging: To help with searching and retrieving documents, you can tag documents with something called metadata. Many documents already have metadata that usually includes the date the document was created, the document title, and the document’s author. You may decide to add additional keywords to a document (such as “agenda”) or custom metadata (such as a required short document description to help people understand what it is at a glance). While search capabilities within a document management system tend to work well, tagging helps you find documents quicker based on your own system—similar to how you would label manila folders in a file cabinet.

4. “Keep or toss”: Use state records retention schedules to help you purge.

As a city, you’ve got one of the best excuses to not hoard: state records retention schedules. These policies, if adopted, tell you how long you must keep records. You don’t need to keep them past a certain date. So get rid of them!

If you are accustomed to keeping records indefinitely, you may feel trepidation about beginning such a purge. However, you increase storage costs and liability by holding onto expired records. Purge them. Once purged, you can look at future documents through the lens of these questions:

  • Do you need to keep it? If so, place the document where it’s supposed to go.
  • If you do need to keep it, then for how long? Build an automated workflow that notifies you when documents need to be purged.
  • If you don’t need to keep the document, then get rid of it.

For reference, we’ve provided a few records retention schedules for states where cities we serve are located.

5. Go digital and get rid of paper.

While a city may enthusiastically embrace document management for electronic information, paper may feel like a different, unique challenge. Your strategy for paper will parallel your strategy with electronic information but require a few different steps.

  • Use a scanner with optical character recognition (OCR) technology so that words in paper documents are searchable after you convert them to electronic documents.
  • Once scanned, apply your same organizational and archiving/purging structure to paper documents.
  • Go slow—one box at a time—and leverage free to cheap labor to scan high volumes of paper.
  • If you choose not to scan all your paper documents from the past, then create a process for paper moving forward—but make sure you scan each paper document moving forward and follow your process.

Are you a city record hoarder? Reach out to us today to get started with your decluttering.

Monday, September 30, 2019
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications

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

District 3 Fall Meeting
October 1, 2019
Duluth, Georgia

Municipal Leadership Institute
October 3, 2019
Prattville, Alabama

District 11 Fall Meeting
October 4, 2019
Fitzgerald, Georgia


Friday, September 27, 2019
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Dave Mims, CEO
Dave Mims

Both the Kentucky League of Cities and Iowa League of Cities conferences take place at the same time as the busy fall season now gets underway at full speed. If you are at the KLC or Iowa League conferences, we are looking forward to seeing you in person during the next few days.

I know it can be very tough to fit training and awareness into your busy schedules. Dan Beck, Director of Local Government Risk Management Services, regularly provides webinars about a number of topics to help municipalities reduce many of the risks they face. He interviewed me during a live webinar last week titled “Reducing the Risk of Cyber Claims.” Because cybersecurity risks are continuing to evolve, I hope you walk away from this interview with a few tips to help your town or city avoid becoming low-hanging fruit for the bad guys. 

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

Blessings,

Dave Mims


New Clients

Falkville, AL
Goshen, AR
Helena-West Helena, AR
Montevallo, AL
River Falls, AL
Summit Dental (Hot Springs, AR and Bryant, AR)


New Websites Launched

Austell, GA
Brooks, GA
Twin City, GA
Ryland Heights, KY


Featured Websites

Austell, GA
Pine Mountain, GA
Ringgold, GA
Pelham, GA
Twin City, GA
Oakwood, GA
Ryland Heights, KY
Hazlehurst, GA
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Vincent, AL


Featured Cybersecurity Article

Your “Clever” Password Is Not Unique—How to Improve Your Password Security

If you’re using words that are popular or common, then others will use them too. And hackers know this. In other words, we think we're using unique passwords—but they really aren't unique. How do you stop this problem from occurring? Read about three ways that you can enforce a better password policy—from good to better to best.

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Featured Data Backup Article

What Needs Backing Up? 4 Pieces of Critical Data That You May Overlook

It’s too common to see cities still relying on consumer-grade solutions or manual data backups—and never testing them. Whether you use an online consumer-grade data backup solution, external hard drive, or even tape backup, don’t assume that your tool is backing up everything you need. Here are four kinds of critical data that your data backup solution may not be backing up.

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Featured Helpdesk Article

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Responsiveness involves a few areas critical to a successful relationship with those who help your city with information technology. In this post, we’re providing you a way to assess the responsiveness of your current IT support by examining four factors.

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Featured Video Archiving Article

5 Unexpected Video Archiving Obstacles for Body Worn Camera Footage

Body worn video cameras represent one of the biggest public safety innovations in the last few years, and many cities are investing in this technology. In this post, we talk about five unexpected body worn video camera obstacles and how you can maneuver through them.

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We hope to see you at these upcoming events:

GMA District Fall Meetings
September/October 2019
Various cities, Georgia

KLC Conference & Expo
September 24-27, 2019
Covington, Kentucky

Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference & Exhibit
September 25-27, 2019
Dubuque, Iowa

GMA 2019 Fall Training Event
September 26-27, 2019
Valdosta, Georgia

ALM 2019 Municipal Leadership Institute
October 3, 2019
Prattville, Alabama

Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association Fall Conference
October 16-18, 2019
Des Moines, Iowa

Monday, September 23, 2019
Kevin Howarth, Marketing & Communications

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

KLC Conference & Expo
September 24-27, 2019
Covington, Kentucky

Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference & Exhibit
September 25-27, 2019
Dubuque, Iowa

GMA 2019 Fall Training Event
September 26-27, 2019
Valdosta, Georgia

District 6 Fall Meeting
September 26, 2019
Centerville, Georgia

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