new, relocated, and expanding businesses is obviously a key goal for any city.
More businesses mean more jobs, more tax revenue, and greater economic vitality
for your city. Once a slew of businesses emerge in your city, it often has a
snowball effect and can lead to significant growth. But to attract those
businesses, you need to market your city and provide the right information to
business owners when they consider your city as a prime location to operate.
A major part
of that marketing and communications activity takes place on your website.
Businesses large and small will research cities to find out which ones will be
best to set up shop. If you’re not providing the right welcome and the
necessary information businesses need, they’ll pass you by and go somewhere
So what do
you need on your website to attract those businesses? Here are some content
tips that should help.
line: Be helpful and highlight the best business-friendly information. Business
owners generally want to know two things: That it’s easy to do business with
you, and that your city is economically vital. If it’s tough to figure out what
they need to do and if your website lacks information about exciting economic
development projects, they’ll turn to another city. Luckily, it doesn’t take
much on your part to please businesses. In fact, it should be fun to talk about
what makes your city great for businesses and to take the time to better
highlight your awesomeness on your website.
To talk more about your city’s business page, please contact us.
When cities tackle
information security and cyber liability, they usually make sure their servers,
desktops, laptops, and networks are locked down and secure. It’s easy to
overlook mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. After all, these are
the kinds of devices we use every day and they seem detached from a lot of
common technology security issues such as viruses, hacking, and unauthorized
Yet, cities need to
treat mobile devices just as strictly as their other hardware. But how can you
go about doing that when a plethora of personal and city-issued mobile devices
are in the hands of employees in various locations every day? Here are some
tips to help you assess if you’re tackling your mobile security as well as your
traditional technology security.
As you can see,
many of the tips for mobile device security are similar to traditional IT
management and monitoring. It’s easy to just allow employees to hop on your
network with their own devices, with little oversight. But you open up security
holes if you don’t enforce a stronger set of security standards. If employees
protest, remind them of the severe consequences of cyber liability, which is
sobering. Maybe it isn’t fun for them, but your city will be best served by a
strong mobile security policy ensuring that devices - both city-issued and
personal devices - are as free of security vulnerabilities as possible.
To talk about mobile security in more detail, please contact us.
While we don’t often get too cutting-edge in our blog posts because we want to discuss the current, practical needs of cities and businesses, there were some important Apple announcements at the recent Apple Worldwide Developers Conference that will impact you in the not too distant future. They all relate to the cloud and how it’s changed the way we interact with technology.
We’ve gathered together some observations about some key Apple announcements from the conference of what we feel will be significant to your city as the cloud continues to grow in importance and become the technology standard for nearly all software. As you’ll see, the implications aren’t just technical things on the backend. They affect the way you actually behave and use technology interfaces.
It makes sense that if the cloud is centralizing data in one place, the management of that data also becomes easier. Many companies are worried about the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend where it’s unclear how much or how little you should restrict access to data on an employee’s personal device. Instead of worrying about if an employee-owned Android should access data on your accounting server, your IT staff or vendor will simply restrict access to anyone from any device through a cloud dashboard. No matter what device is trying to access the information, you can set permissions that restrict employee access.
While these technology advances might seem far off in the future or too good to be true, they’ve been slowly taking over your desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones for a few years. By storing everything in the cloud, worries about maintaining your own hardware, software, and storage needs largely go away. This is why investing in the cloud now not only saves you money but also keeps you ahead of the curve as these technology standards eventually become the norm.
To talk more about the cloud and its impact on your city, please contact us.
One common barrier we hear about moving to the cloud is aging, old legacy software. For example, if you have accounting software that you’ve been using for 10 years, you might think it’s impossible to move that outdated technology into the cloud. Because you’re dependent on that software for your day-to-day business, you figure you’ll still need to host those servers onsite or in a data center.
However, you can most likely move that legacy software into the cloud. But that might sound too good to be true, like a vendor overpromising what the cloud can actually deliver. In this post, we’ll talk about some of the mechanics and important points of what makes it possible to take third party applications and manage them in the cloud.
Cloud data backup is powerful. Not only does it provide near 100% uptime and plenty of redundancy (power lines, generators, Internet connections, etc.) to help avoid outages and data loss, but cloud vendors can also take regular snapshots of your data. If a disaster does occur, you can recover your data and even your entire software system. You and your vendor may currently have limitations for how often you take snapshots of your data or handle data recovery (e.g. tape backup). Taking advantage of automatic, seamless data backup helps keep your legacy software running no matter what happens to you.
While you might have known that basic software such as Microsoft Office, Exchange, or SQL could be used in the cloud, the technology has now matured to a point where third party legacy software applications are able to migrate over. This is a significant opportunity for you, since you’ll be able to eliminate hardware, reduce the cost of maintenance and space, and be able to access your legacy software anytime, anywhere.
To talk more about moving your legacy software into the cloud, please contact us.
city, you likely have various boards and commissions that cover everything from
planning and public safety to the arts and the library. Through these groups,
citizens become more engaged with government and help your city work on
specific problems and opportunities. They are a great way for citizens to
participate in government and partner with you.
it’s important to create content that makes information about boards and
commissions easy to find. Here are some tips on what basics to include on your
city’s boards and commissions page.
this basic information on your city’s website, you’re performing an important
service for citizens. Civic participation is enhanced when citizens are aware
of groups that work to make your city a better place. Even if your city is
small, it still helps to place information about your one or two boards and
commissions in a prominent place on your website. Similar to your city council
meetings, citizens like to know they can keep tabs on what any city board or
commission is doing.
To talk about your boards and commissions content in more detail, please contact us.
As a small business, are you taking advantage of cloud technology to help you reduce costs and increase productivity? You might have heard about the cloud and have some concerns about its security and reliability. Or, you might think of the cloud as buzz and hype, and that it’s just a fad that will go away like a lot of other technology trends.
Reported in WinBeta, a recent survey from Microsoft said that:
As you can see, the cloud holds many potential benefits for your small business. If you have any similar concerns based on the questions above, the answers prove that the cloud not only addresses those concerns but also provides technological benefits that improve upon the technology you may have onsite. For your business, the opportunity to lower costs, improve security, access data from anywhere, and go paperless is amazing. Now, it’s just a matter of exploring what solutions are out there and assessing the costs.
To talk about the cloud in more detail, please contact us.
“managed services” is so vague as to encompass a wide variety of IT vendor
services and products. It seems like there are as many definitions of “managed
services” as there are vendors. We’ve worked with many cities where they
thought they were getting a specific set of “managed services,” but they were
actually lacking certain essential services or having to pay extra hourly
(expensive) rates for things they thought were included.
the concept of IT managed services, it’s best to look historically at how it’s
evolved. By looking at it historically, you might find yourself slightly stuck
in the past and not fully taking advantage of what you need your IT managed
services vendor to provide.
In the 1980s
and early 1990s, technology was largely a nice-to-have for cities. While
certain essential business functions (especially specialized functions like
accounting) might have relied on technology, it was still okay for most cities
to rely on traditional paper-based ways of doing business. Since the city’s
operations did not rely on technology completely for business, technology was
purchased rather like how consumers would purchase them. You bought some
computers, you set them up yourselves, and you took care of them yourselves. It
was all rather simple.
something went wrong and you couldn’t fix it, you called an IT person who
functioned similarly to a repair person. It’s broke, so you call someone to fix
it. Your repair person came over when a server or computer crashed, ran too
slowly, or had a virus. They fixed the problem and only returned when there was
another problem. But the more servers and computers you had, the more often
they’d be visiting your city.
while, this kind of reactive repair becomes rather costly and unpredictable for
your budget. It’s like putting out fires but never addressing the source of the
fires. In order to tackle IT problems and issues in a more proactive way,
modern IT managed services started to truly emerge.
innovation in IT managed services occurred with the advent of monitoring
software that’s installed on your servers and workstations to identify problems
before they occur. Your IT staff or vendor could then monitor this data and
address problems when they cropped up. Often, this software would address
problems before you even knew about them, which is the definition of proactive
this monitoring software was often supplemented with helpdesk support hours.
Depending on the quality of the vendor, this helpdesk support could include
everything from offshored phone support to hands-on site visits that regularly
assess your technology as if the vendor were an extension of your staff. At
this point, managed services went far beyond the repair model as it had the
ability to proactively handle:
“strategic partnership” is probably even vaguer than “managed services.” To us,
it means your IT managed services provider looks at your technology from a
strategic business standpoint. They aren’t just tactical. They meet with you
regularly to look at your needs, where you want to go, and how technology can
help you get there.
Think of the
proactive maintenance as your technology operations. It’s certainly important,
but many IT vendors still just stop there. By staying tactical, you risk using
outdated technology, failing to adapt to newer technologies like the cloud that
can help you reduce costs, and not connecting city business goals with technology
investments that can help you achieve those goals.
best managed services providers are like stewards of your technology
investments. They acknowledge there is a cost to information technology, but
look at maximizing technology investments so that they serve the particular
needs of your city. If you’re still in the repair model or the tactical model,
consider an IT managed services provider that can help strategize with you from
quarter to quarter to ensure that your technology is necessary and doing
exactly what you need it to do.
To talk about IT managed services in more detail, please contact us.
Your Internet access is your key to the
world. But it can also be an expensive pain for your budget. It can seem that
you’re trapped with only one or two options in your city, and it’s true that
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a near-monopoly in many areas of the
country. However, ISPs have generally improved their services enough so that
you should reexamine what you have if you haven’t done a self-assessment in a
That’s because technology improvements
often mean lower costs, but many ISPs can fail to innovate, to share innovative
improvements with you, or to inform you voluntarily about ways you can reduce
costs. Remember, Internet access becomes faster and covers more geographical areas
every year. In conjunction with these technological improvements, there are
ways to potentially lower your ISP costs with a few simple strategies.
By the way, we
cannot emphasize this point enough. A city (or any business) should always,
always, ALWAYS go with a business-class ISP over a consumer-class ISP no matter
how much difference there is in the price. If you’ve ever had an Internet
outage at home (using a consumer-class ISP), you might have been told it will
be a week from Tuesday before the ISP will get out there to fix it. That’s why business-class
service is an essential ISP choice for your city.
exciting thing for cities is that ISP costs are probably one of the easiest
costs to reduce, and with the biggest payback. All it takes is a little
research, negotiation, and knowledge about how ISPs work and structure their
costs. At the same time, make sure you don’t go overboard in reducing costs.
Consumer-class ISPs are not suitable for your city, and neither is copper.
Don’t take shortcuts. Define a certain standard of quality, and then negotiate
price based on those quality standards.
To talk more about reducing ISP costs, please contact us.
For day-to-day collaboration and project team meetings, tablets are handy for easy video chats, conference calls, and exchanges of information. Especially if you have people working from home, on the road, or traveling across the country, tablets make it easy to connect due to friendly collaboration software, ease of use, and ubiquitous Internet connections. While laptops are still often used for this purpose, tablets are much easier to use and more convenient to set up in crowded places such as a plane, airport, or coffee shop.
Tablets are nearing the end of the nice-to-have stage and are quickly becoming essential for business. They’re even being adopted by many people traditionally considered “technology luddites,” and those people like using them. It helps their productivity in ways that even the laptop could not, and businesses now have to meet that need.
To talk about tablets in more detail, please contact us.
any other city web page, your elected official page represents the most direct
connection to citizens. After all, these are the city officials who citizens
elect to represent them. They are public servants. Through city council and
regular communications, their jobs are to stay in touch with citizens and pass
on constituent concerns to city council.
neglect their mayor and city council pages because they don’t have a clear
service component like news, events, City Hall, or department pages. But if you
neglect certain pieces of key content on your mayor and city council page, you
risk sending the message that you don’t care, that it’s difficult to contact
elected officials, and that your local government might not be transparent
Here are a
few basic tips to make sure you’ve got the essentials covered on your mayor and
city council page.
this is all basic information and relatively easy to obtain. Shoring up this
information on your website will make citizens happy and the functioning
of your elected official communications that much smoother. It’s really just
about information—about the elected officials, the meetings, and the
decisions they make. Citizens may disagree or want to debate city issues, but that’s
good. It’s bad when citizens are angry over lack of information.
To talk more about mayor and city council website content, please contact us.
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