Cloud Technology Should Not be Scary for Local Governments!

As a person with detailed knowledge on how a local government operates, I have a unique view into how local municipalities are grappling with technology issues.

The IT directors of local governments face some interesting questions, but also have great opportunities. Here are a few questions for an IT Director to ponder. How does a local government implement Cloud Technology? How does Cloud technology protect private citizens’ critical information? How can a local government achieve cost savings for taxpayers?

For a local government to be interested in a Cloud solution, the proposed technology must have several characteristics.  Just like the old real estate axiom –location, location, location, the local government technology axiom should be security, security and security. Just imagine the uproar if a local government had a security breach and taxpayers’ tax returns were stolen. As a local elected official the mere mention of a security breach makes me cringe. So, what to do?

I do like the advice provided in an article in the September issue of Government Technology (Cloud Cover). They discussed 6 ways to protect your data in event of Cloud crashes, but they do not address network security issues. The technology plan for the local government needs to include network access security, firewalls, and a data backup plan.

The benefits of implementing cloud technology are numerous.

  1. It will provide an easy vehicle for citizen engagement to improve government transparency.
  2. It provides the ability to share documents between the local government and their partner agencies.
  3. Considering the various states’ open records laws, local governments need the ability to easily store and access requested documents in a timely fashion.

Let me give you example of how technology can help local government. In West Valley City, Utah (Can Permitting Software Create Jobs?), the city implemented a digital business application process for new and existing business in order to simplify the process and drive economic development. This is a great example of using technology to partner with the business community to drive rational economic growth.

For this to be successful, the political environment needs to change. We need to realize we now live in a very connected world and the sharing of information between government agencies is in the best interest of the public. Additionally, re-examining the government procurement process is critical, so the industry and local governments can form mutually beneficial relationships.

So what are your thoughts?  What role should technology play in local government daily operations? How should local governments work to insure security for taxpayers?  What dangers do you see in local government of a lack of security?  We look forward to your comments.
Editor note: David Billings is an AT&T Enterprise Networking Product Director and a Forks Township Supervisor in Forks, PA
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