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CitySmart Blog

Monday, November 14, 2011
Sophicity recently surveyed Georgia cities with populations of 2,500 or greater. We were pleased by the overwhelming response – 144 cities of the 199 surveyed – or a response rate of more than 72 percent. However, the findings generated even more questions and concerns on the state of our cities’ IT infrastructure.

According to the survey results, cities are taking on extremely high risk due to unmanaged break fix environments.  In sum, cities are operating networks that are ripe for IT breaches , data loss, and system failure.

Sophicity surveyed cities on the following questions:
  1. How many people work at the city?
  2. How many people who work at the city are considered IT staff?
  3. Do you use a contractor or vendor in place of IT staff?
  4. If your city does use an IT contractor or vendor, is it for break/fix support or more proactive services?
Seventy eight percent of respondents reactively addressed IT needs. In short that means they are waiting for something to break. Only 11 percent proactively manage IT, while the remaining 11 percent didn’t know.

52 percent of the cities responding had no IT staff and no vendor.

If we break down the responding cities further by population, our survey identified:
  • Cities with populations from 2,500 to 4,999 are more likely to be reactive when addressing IT needs – up to 90 percent of cities in this category responded that they reactively address IT needs or wait for something to break. Only 9 percent proactively managed IT, and the remaining 1 percent didn’t know. 69 percent of the cities in this group don’t have an IT staff or IT vendor.
  • Cities with populations from 5,000 to 24,999 are faring a little better. In this group, 45 percent of respondents are reactively addressing IT needs. Only 10 percent are proactively managing IT, and the remaining 45 percent didn’t know.  More than 65 percent of the cities in this category also work without the benefit of an IT staff or a vendor.
  • Cities with populations from 25,000 to 49,999 are 56 percent reactively addressing IT needs. None of the respondents in this category are proactively managing IT, and the remaining 44 percent didn’t know. Thirty one percent of the cities responding have no IT staff or a vendor.
  • Cities with populations of 50,000 or greater are 21 percent reactively addressing IT needs. Only 7 percent proactively manage IT, and the remaining 71 percent didn’t know. Surprisingly, 43 percent of these cities that responded have no IT staff or a vendor.
The numbers paint a troubling picture and generate even more troubling questions. What city and citizen data is at risk for being compromised, hacked, or lost? What costs are rising from inefficiencies? What services are not being provided that could be? Who will our citizens turn to when a disaster occurs? Will the city be ready to help?

Benjamin Franklin is credited as saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That quote is applicable today to cities skimping on IT costs to “save” money. Don’t neglect. Get someone competent and skilled in place to manage the city’s IT needs day to day as well as strategically planning and preparing for the years ahead.

Hire a competent person, Engage a credible vendor, or do both. Don’t fall victim to data loss, system failure, or wasted / dated time consuming inefficiencies.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Dave Mims, President
The results are in! On November 2, Govtech.com announced the winners of the eleventh annual Digital Cities Survey. The survey spotlights the municipalities that best show how information and communication technology are used to enhance public service. The survey is conducted by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology.
The top 10 cities were selected by four different population categories and judged on the following criteria:
  • Enterprise applicability/Impact across multiple program areas
  • Measurable progress from the prior year
  • Hard dollar savings/soft dollar benefits as a result of technology use
  • Innovation
  • Demonstration of effective collaboration 
The cities chosen were selected from hundreds of municipalities nationwide. Winners include cities like Chicago, Corpus Christi, Texas, Eden Prairie, Minn., Honolulu and Virginia Beach, Va.
So, who else made the list? Did your city? See for yourself.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Ohm Sadasivam, Senior Software Developer
Microsoft has added many useful features in SharePoint 2010. One of interest for developers is support for Language Integrated Query (LINQ). LINQ abstracts us from data source specific syntax such as SQL for SQL Server as well as Collaborative Application Markup Language (CAML) for SharePoint content data. Nice! I won’t steal all the thunder, but if you need to programmatically access SharePoint data and you aren’t already using CAML for SharePoint data access then checkout these two articles on LINQ to SharePoint from Microsoft at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee535491.aspx and http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/gg620622.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Michael Kappel, Senior Network Engineer

People really seem to enjoy placing high resolution photos on their backgrounds.  They will take pictures of places that they visit, their family, or their pets and set that as the background on their laptops or desktops.  A lot of people don’t realize that this can actually slow the computer down.  To see if your background pictures are impacting performance on your computer, right click on the desktop, click properties, and set the background to a solid color.  If that seems to improve your computers speed, you may need to consider either not using the image you choose previously, or getting a lower resolution copy of the image.

With that said, if you really love background, checkout some seasonal ones at: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/downloads/personalize/wallpaper-desktop-background

Friday, October 28, 2011
Scott Miller, Network Engineer
I have been using Windows 7 for a while. From the beginning, I have liked the “snapping a window” feature, which while simple, is pretty cool. With the feature, you can Snap windows to size by dragging them to the edges of your screen. Read more about snap at: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/snap.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Dave Mims, President

Sophicity was a sponsor for the 4th Annual Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade Golf Tournament held Monday October 17, 2011 in Dublin, GA at the beautiful Riverview Park Golf Course. The proceeds from the tournament will go toward the Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade charity event in December.

Yalonde Tanner from GMA summed it up best, “For the first time in 4 years Sophicity did not make last place”. Yes, a Cinderella story. Every year until 2011, we have driven, swung, swung, putted, putted, and putted our way into last place. But not this year! I chose to step aside and let Clint Nelms, Sophicity’s Network Infrastructure Practice Manager, and Michael Kappel, Sophicity’s Senior Network Engineer (aka Mr. Sophicity Golf) compete. Definitely a good move, one of improvement for the team… ;-)

Every year, the Mayors' Christmas Motorcade provides gifts during the holidays for patients at Georgia's mental health and retardation hospitals. The golf tournament is essential for raising money for the Motorcade, and Sophicity proudly supports GMA’s efforts to help Georgia’s less fortunate during the holiday season.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Todd Snoddy, Senior Software Developer
With the ongoing rise of mobile device usage even for non-technical users, many organizations are choosing to provide services to their customers or constituents through the use of mobile apps.  People who are responsible for making decisions about creating and deploying those mobile apps will likely face the decision about whether to provide native or web-based mobile apps.  I was recently evaluating both approaches for a customer’s project and came across a good summarized comparison of the two.  You can read more about it here.
In a nutshell, as technologies like HTML 5 continue to evolve and be supported by modern mobile devices, the feature gap between native and web based apps is growing smaller.  An organization needs to really consider what types of features their apps need to support, and who their target audience is, and then choose the best platform with those needs in mind.  Unless an app needs maximum performance for high speed graphics or access to specific device hardware, a web based app is likely to provide the most value for the development cost.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Dave Mims, President
Sophicity recently published Online Payments Can Reduce Cost, Increase Quality in the September-October 2011 issue of Minnesota Cities magazine. The magazine is published by the League of Minnesota Cities and focuses on a variety of contemporary municipal issues. We encourage you to read the complete article and also visit the League of Minnesota Cities online.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Dave Mims, President
Just returned from the IT Summit in Little Rock Arkansas. This was the 10th anniversary meeting of the SMC. What a great trip regrouping once again with the collective Municipal League ThinkTank from across many of our states. So much covered in three days spanning enterprise imaging, securing the consumerization of IT devices being pushed on our networks, cloud computing, VOIP, Office 365, cloud based backup and DR, and much much more. My head is still swimming from this very bright group of technology leaders... Good technology, good food, and very good conversations. :)
Friday, October 21, 2011
Clint Nelms, Network Infrastructure Practice Manager

As technology and hackers become more and more sophisticated, IT security teams have to keep a closer eye on their networks, making sure an electronic attack does not destroy their sites or important data. For state and local government agencies, it is critical that CIOs and other team members understand the security threats, and most importantly, how to keep the IT environments safe.

The question is, are you up to speed on your cyber-security essentials? I recently read an AT&T white paper, titled “Cyber-Security Essentials for State and Local Government” and was able to take away several key points about cyber-security on the state and government level:

·         Network and IT Infrastructure Security. A successful attack can cripple a network, compromise sensitive data, attract negative publicity and be costly to remediate. It could lead to fines and civil lawsuits. Guarding your network and IT infrastructure requires vigilance. How can you stay prepared?

o    Assess Your Needs

o    Assess Your Current Infrastructure

o    Classify and Evaluate Data

o    Evaluate Security Infrastructure for a Move to the Cloud

·         Vulnerability and Threat Management. Vulnerability and threat management requires continuous monitoring, collecting and analysis of security event data. It’s about knowing your infrastructure well, and knowing what attacks could do it harm. It’s looking at trends and identifying new types of attacks. 

How can you keep your network safe?

o    Proper employee training

o    Careful authentication and authorization of those using your network and resources, intrusion detection and prevention

o    Proper defense against DDoS attacks

These are just a few pointers. For a more detailed list, be sure to read the complete AT&T white paper here.

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