Windows 8 is such a leap forward compared to past versions of Windows that cities have a lot of trepidation about upgrading. While you don’t want to be left behind, at the same time you want to make sure you’re not upgrading just to upgrade. There needs to be a compelling reason to upgrade.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re on the fence about Windows 8.
The verdict on Windows 8? We have to take the safest answer: It depends. In our analysis above, we provide a mix of positive, negative, and neutral analysis. Windows 8 is still not fully established as a standard and Microsoft is still working out some user and branding issues. The technology is sound, but the leap forward was more abrupt than any Windows launch since the mid-1990s. That abruptness makes cities understandably wary.
Once you assess your current technology needs, your plans to move to the cloud, and the state of your current software applications, you will get a better sense if you should upgrade to Windows 8 now or later. To talk more about if Windows 8 is right for your city, please contact us.
You may have had the experience at some point of using up too much memory on your computer or smartphone. With such useful technology, it’s always a pain when you find its powers are finite. A short battery life, a full hard drive, or a slow Internet connection can frustrate you and prevent you from fully maximizing the use of your hardware.
Now take those problems and amplify them up to the level of your city IT network. Such resources are a vital part of a city’s operations, but we unfortunately find that cities are often not managing these resources well. Higher costs, work stoppages, and slowed software responsiveness result.
In this post, we discuss a few places where you may be unknowingly losing money and time.
Above, the key themes throughout the five areas are planning and monitoring. If you reactively invest and manage your technology, you are not planning for additional resources that you’ll need in the future. And if you don’t monitor regularly, problems will sneak up on you and cause much more disruption to your city than if you had anticipated a need for more physical memory or storage space.
With planning, you will save money and maximize the use of your technology resources. To talk about resource planning and monitoring in more detail, please contact us.
Since the launch of IT in a Box, its adoption has grown quickly! Thank you!
We have diligently collected feedback, monitored and analyzed existing product components, and assessed technologies. Now, I am very excited about IT in a Box’s new enhancements we are releasing!
No trip charges for onsite support visits scheduled Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Standard expenses including mileage will be expensed back. We announced this one a little early, but it’s so good that I just had to mention it again!
Unlimited storage for offsite data backups! Yes, you read that right. Unlimited storage for offsite data backups! This means all versions of all your data can be securely and redundantly maintained offsite for disaster recovery for all of the servers in your IT in a Box plan.
Website Online Payments is no longer an add-on to IT in a Box. Instead, website online payments will now be covered under existing IT in a Box fees. That means IT in a Box will no longer have a fee for website online payments (e-commerce), nor a per transaction fee, nor a product listing fee to provide website online payments for city services such as utility billing, banner applications, etc. This includes an unlimited number of products listed on your website for which you can take online payments.
Note: You will still have to consider your online payment merchant fees, but those are typically negated with a surcharge (or convenience fee) that the city will set and receive. Also note that custom integrations (for example, with your accounting system) are not included. We can do that work, but that custom integration will be charged as a separate one-time fee.
Mobile device management and support spanning iPhone, iPad, DROID phones and tablets, Windows phones and tablets, and even Blackberry. Yes – that means not just your servers and workstations will be supported, but even your mobile devices (including your smartphones and tablets).
Microsoft Office 2013 upgrades to your desktop computers. Yes, new software for your desktop but no new licenses to purchase! We have been running Office 2013 internally for some time now and I personally really like the new experience it provides on the Microsoft Surface devices for email, editing documents, and working on spreadsheets.
Email (Exchange) server upgrades enhancing Outlook Web App (OWA) and anti-malware. No new server hardware for the city to purchase as in the past.
Document Management (SharePoint) server upgrades enhancing support to allow external document sharing. Again, no new server hardware for the city to purchase as in the past with other document management systems.
Again, I am very excited about these enhancements to IT in a Box and the benefits they bring to you. Thank you for being a valued customer. We will be scheduling and rolling out these updates in the near future. At no charge to you.
If you have any feedback, please don’t hesitate to call or email me.
While we continue to encourage cities to embrace the cloud in order to reduce costs and create a much easier-to-use IT environment, we sometimes see cities taking shortcuts with the cloud. With cloud services becoming more and more omnipresent, a plethora of free services have emerged that can tempt cities looking for low-budget technology.
Just as we warn with many other technologies, you pay for what you get. But the problem with the cloud is that the services seem pretty darn good. After all, as long as your email program, software, or storage seems to work over the Internet, why not use it?
Cities, as government entities, need to be particularly sensitive to free technology solutions. For the cloud particularly, here are some reasons why you need to consider an enterprise cloud solution instead of a free cloud solution.
If you use free cloud services as part of your everyday life, it’s tempting to think they will also translate easily into your city. But as many government entities have learned the hard way, you lose much more than you gain. At best, you’re sacrificing discipline, process, and standardization, which confuses employees and disrupts productivity. At worst, you could suffer significant legal and financial woes by relying too much on a service that doesn’t offer personalized maintenance and support.
However, enterprise cloud services doesn’t mean huge expenses. The services can still be relatively inexpensive within the context of a professional IT team supporting your overall environment. At root, the problem is less the cloud and more the support behind it—which you absolutely need at a city.
To discuss enterprise cloud services in more detail, please contact us.
In our last two online payments posts, we discussed firewalls, passwords, and data protection. Next, PCI DSS compliance requires “vulnerability management.” That means taking a deeper look at your antivirus and network security. Unfortunately, for many cities those areas are woefully inadequate—leaving cities open to attacks.
Cities that want to offer online payments cannot have security holes and gaps that risk malicious access to payment data. That means ensuring that a city’s antivirus and network security is enterprise level without breaking the bank. Luckily, there are some common sense, cost-effective basics to follow that ensure your security fundamentals are ready for online payments.
While we’ve written extensively about antivirus in the past, you really need to worry about two key aspects.
With antivirus taken care of, you also need to think about security for your entire network. Focus on three network security essentials.
If your city wants to offer online payments, it’s essential to make sure you have a solution addressed for each point above. The scary thing about security is that it’s usually weakest on the front lines. You might have powerful servers or a data center that’s locked down, but a person’s workstation or laptop might be completely open to attacks. You need to make sure your network security extends to each and every person’s computer, and that means making sure all computers are protected with antivirus, monitoring tools, patches, and content filters.
In our next PCI DSS compliance online payments post, we’ll look closer at access – and how to assign authorized access to the right users while keeping out any unauthorized users.
If you want to talk about security for online payments in more detail, please contact us.
Cities often ask us where they should be storing their files, especially when they tend to save them to their computer. “Is that bad?” a person will ask.
The simple answer: yes.
First, a few reasons why you don’t want to store files only on your computer.
So, where should your files be stored? If not on your computer, what is the safest place to make sure that viruses, hardware failure, or accidental deletion does not mean the end of your documents?
A good place to begin is with your business processes. Depending on your city’s size, number of employees, and the kind of work you do every day, you will have different file storage needs. To start thinking about file storage, ask yourself the following questions:
As you can see, your file storage solution will really depend on your business needs. But most importantly, we advise all cities to stop storing files on individual computers and transition to a solution that at the very least saves documents to a place that is backed up (with proper redundancy). That way, not only will your users create and edit files in a more disciplined manner, but they will also not scream disaster if they lose a file.
If you’d like to discuss file storage and document management in more detail, please contact us.
In our conversations with cities, we often find that their data backup efforts fall short. Striking the right balance can be difficult to judge. When cities don’t invest enough in data backup, it’s usually from a feeling of security that does not correlate to the reality of their situation. The resistance to spending more on data backup is usually from thinking “nothing bad has happened yet” or “at least we’re doing something” or “we can go without our data for a while.”
In situations where there is a lack of investment in data backup, we see two common scenarios.
While we’ve written many times about data backup best practices, we’ll focus on three key aspects that make data backup “just right.”
While this article just skims the surface of analyzing your data backup needs, it touches upon the most common problems we’ve seen in our experiences with cities. You need a customized solution that meets the particular data backup needs of your city. It needs to be cost-sensible without compromising on quality. To sculpt such a solution, you need to talk to an expert rather than buying something off-the-shelf or just buying cool technology.
To chat more about data backup that is just right for you, please contact us.
While you might not want to take your work home if you’re concerned with work/life balance, it is the case that modern technology allows you to access your work desktop from home. In today’s work environments, it’s become more expected to work on the fly from home, coffee shops, hotels, or other places you may travel.
We often get a lot of questions from cities about the extent of teleworking technologies. Innovation moves so fast that many city employees do work at the office that can possibly be done remotely. Teleworking is especially beneficial for people who might be sick, taking care of ill or elderly relatives, or watching the kids. You can still be productive at work while also taking care of your other life needs.
If you still think you need to come into the office to perform the following activities, you may need to explore some different technologies to help give city employees more flexibility.
So, the good news is that you can work from anywhere. Very few limitations exist today to keep people onsite. Usually, you will be limited to onsite work through lack of the technology we discussed above, habit, or work environment requirements. If the technology is the limitation, then talk to your IT staff or vendor about updating your technologies to improve your teleworking capabilities. These upgrades not only allow your staff to work remote, but they also tend to save you money.
To talk about teleworking technologies in more detail, please contact us.
KLC helps city launch new website, stabilize data backup, disaster recovery, manage city documents, and provide email
Incorporated in 1965, Lyndon, Kentucky has grown from 500 to more than 11,000 residents in almost 50 years. The city actively promotes business, ranging from UPS’s International Air Headquarters to smaller businesses numbering more than 500 in this thriving community. With the city’s 17-acre Robsion Park providing playgrounds and trails for its citizens, Lyndon is one of Kentucky’s most progressive cities.
Despite phenomenal growth, the city’s technology unfortunately lagged behind. Uncertainty existed related to the city’s data backup, ability to recover in the event of a disaster, email, website, and hardware support. With so many questions unanswered, the city was not well prepared for a system failure.
As with many cities that have underinvested in technology, the potential high cost of upgrading prevented Lyndon city leaders from moving forward.
Lyndon solved these challenges by using the Kentucky League of Cities “IT in a Box” service. Powered by Sophicity, “IT in a Box” is a complete IT solution for cities and local governments. The service includes a website, data backup, offsite storage, email, document management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server and desktop management, vendor management and a seven-day a week helpdesk.
“IT in a Box” helped Lyndon:
From Sophicity’s assessment of the city’s previous IT infrastructure, Lyndon saved $45,508 of the costs typically spent modernizing a city network of their environment and size, with no upfront capital expense. “IT in a Box” helped Lyndon stabilize its technology and create a predictable and affordable IT budget.
We are thrilled with the results Sophicity has been able to provide the City of Lyndon. Our records are now secure and the system is backed up daily to off-site storage. Sophicity assisted with analyzing our telephone/internet needs and they were able to provide a new system which is up, running and working well. And I can’t say enough about their availability, expertise and problem-solving skills. They are our “One Stop Shop!” – Mayor Susan Barto
If you're interested in learning more, contact us about IT in a Box.
Print-friendly version of the Lyndon, Kentucky IT in a Box case study.
Sophicity is an IT services and consulting company providing technology solutions to city governments and municipal leagues. Among the services Sophicity delivers in “IT in a Box” are a website, data backup, offsite storage, email, document management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server and desktop management, vendor management and a seven-day a week helpdesk. Read more about IT in a Box.
In previous posts, we’ve discussed what citizens and businesses should find on your city website. But what about people who are not citizens? Many cities tend to neglect focusing on non-citizens and either focus on functionality for citizens and businesses or simply focus on business-level economic development initiatives.
But think about it. People are moving to cities every day, and they have choices. Any given metro area may have dozens of cities that people can choose from. Those residents add to your tax revenue and help build your communities. Losing those people means stagnation for your city.
Your website is a key place to woo potential citizens. As long as you have some of the following basics built in, you will be able to compete with other cities to interest people in moving to your city.
While these recommendations sound simple on the surface, practicing them is hard but reflective of a positive, vibrant city. Sometimes great cities are not reflecting their vitality on their websites. When people are researching anything today, including what city to move to, they will be using your website as an important source of information. By comparing your website with many other city websites, they will be judging you on a variety of factors. If you are able to solidify the above recommendations, then your city will have the foundation for marketing itself well amid a sea of competition.
If you want to discuss the power of your website in more detail, please contact us.
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