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CitySmart Blog

Friday, November 13, 2009
Tim Verras, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience
The Georgia Municipal Association today launched its 2010 Connection website. It’s a pretty cool idea, as it links local Georgia cities with the candidates for the 2010 Gubernatorial Election via social media. There’s videos, profiles, Twitter feeds and a ton of other information. The best part: it’s hosted on top of our Tribune Content Management system (I know, I know, a shameless plug. But I am the marketing guy…) . If you’re a local city in Georgia, check it out and get in touch with the candidates!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Jeramie Mercker, Director of Technology
Scientific American is reporting on how cities are making efforts to reduce their carbon footprints through innovative plans like carbon taxes, municipal solar power, and other emerging green technologies. Once thing the article skips is that cities can reduce their carbon emissions by reducing their power consumption in the IT department. This is a topic we’ve written about before and its fitting here because before a city embarks on an expensive solar project, reduced carbon emissions could start at home for free by using smart energy management policies for their network. They could also start consolidating their network to drastically reduce energy needs (and thus carbon). This method costs a bit of money, but it’s still cheaper than most green technologies and the savings will quickly show on-going ROI.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Dave Mims, President
Washington Post discussed the DC traffic outages this week, highlighting the need for municipalities to have regular equipment checks and on-the-books lifecycle management. Traffic signals all over the DC area were knocked out after a 37-year old computer literally melted down. The lost business revenue from the crippling gridlock traffic is estimated to be in the millions, probably far more than it would have cost the city to replace the system. This is a good example of why regular maintenance and tracking the operational life of critical infrastructure is important. Unlike your dishwasher at home, you don’t want to just wait until brakes to get a new one.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Dave Mims, President
GovTech continues its run of excellent articles with a piece on IT risk management for government agencies. While the article is focused more on the state and federal level, the five tips that are detailed still hold very true for cities. Risk management is arguably the most intensive and difficult problem facing any IT manager because it requires an understanding that goes far beyond technology, delving into how the business of running a city is affected by a loss of services. This is more than simply having a good data backup plan in place. A true risk management plan needs to address how critical city services will function in the wake of a disaster, an outage, or even a flu outbreak. As cities become more reliant on technology to run the operations, these sorts of risk plans become absolutely essential to mitigating risks. Check out the article for some great tips on starting a plan of your own.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Kevin Howarth, Director of Business Development
The Cloud Ave blog has a great post on Dustin Haisler, the CIO for Manor, Texas who recently opened a website called Manor Labs. The site is essentially a city-owned R&D lab designed to collect and test citizen’s ideas about improving the city. They can sort their idea by department and then open a discussion about how this will affect the city. It’s a great idea and one more way that technology is helping to crack open governance by making it a true community effort.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Tim Verras, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience
The Center for Digital Government has released its list of the top digital cities for 2009. These cities have displayed that they are using technology in an innovative way to better provide citizen services. Essentially, cities of population 30k and over are asked to respond to a survey and then the results are tabulated and judged. Hit the jump for the full list of cities and find out who won! Sadly there's no Georgia cities on the list, but I know someone who can help get you there...
Friday, October 30, 2009
Tim Verras, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience

So we’ve talked a lot about how many cities are trying innovative new things with social media. But not everyone gets it. News from Bozeman, MT shows that the city requested social media log ons and passwords from potential employees. That’s right, they wanted to log into their private feeds in order to perform a background check. Naturally, once word got out there was somewhat of an uproar and the city reversed its decision, but the damage was done. This is a further example of why having social media policies in place at your city is a mandatory thing in this day and age. It’s easy to cross the boundary from the public to the private, so making sure everyone is on the same page about social media use during the hiring phase is boon to everyone. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Dave Mims, President
GovTech is running a great piece with five tips for outsourcing. Naturally, we’ve discussed this topic here for a while, but we also think it’s important to get an outside view. While outsourcing might work for everyone, it’s far beyond just a simple decision. It needs to be a city-wide discussion before a vendor is even brought in the door for a talk. Obviously, we’re in favor of a hybrid approach to outsourcing, but only when and where it makes sense. We strongly suggest anyone thinking about outsourcing goes to a trusted advisor and external article like GovTech’s to help them navigate the path. In the end, while we’d love to outsource for you, we want you to do it because it’s right for your city, not just right for us.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Jeramie Mercker, Director of Technology
Alemeda County, California is set to save a projected $15 million in a single year due to an application integration project for its social services programs. Now that’s ROI. Essentially its linking a whole bunch of formerly separate systems to give its case workers a wide view of each enrollee across multiple programs. Where are the savings coming from? Mostly by detecting errors and fraud within the system. If the databases aren’t talking, someone could spend years getting benefits that they aren’t qualified for, costing tax payers millions of dollars. Naturally, not every city has the 1.5 million dollars that this project cost to implement, but this does demonstrate the value of having an integrated, intelligent system across the board.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Jeramie Mercker, Director of Technology
More evidence that major cities are looking into a hybrid model of outsourcing. GovTech is reporting that Houston, Texas has hired a firm to look into consolidating the city’s IT and potentially outsourcing services. Apparently the company is going to show them three models: in-house, completely outsourced, and a hybrid model. In a city this large, it makes total sense to look into a hybrid outsourced model, as Houston will surely need folks with long time experience in the environment to make it happen. We’ll be tracking this one, but we’re going to place our money on the hybrid model as the clear choice.
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