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Reopening and the Cloud
Moving to the cloud is a trend, and public sector managers are on board. According to Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, up to 60% of government organizations will use an external service provider’s cloud-managed service by 2022, doubling the percentage from 2018.
There are two important implications to the cloud heading into a new year that sees cities and counties still experiencing pandemic-related challenges. First, cloud-based solutions will be a tremendous help in reopening efforts, including in equitable economic recovery and strengthened communication with the public. Second, cloud-based technologies have significant ROI for local governments that can position them for sustainability through uncertainty, as well as for future growth.
Reopening and Recovery
As the pandemic response evolves, many traditional, in-person channels of service and engagement remain closed or minimized. A continued acceleration of digital processes and engagement channels is inevitable. In 2021, residents will need access to public health updates, critical vaccination information, business opening information, and more. Notifying residents of severe weather, public safety concerns, and even newly reopened community events are also important considerations. Solving for stronger, more effective citizen engagement is key to reopening cities and counties and getting back to business.
Cloud-based civic engagement apps can connect residents with news, services, and events. These mobile apps also provide a fast, cost-effective, accessible way to facilitate two-way communication with residents. Technology that connects the business functions of local government with the public can facilitate business success and community development. Offering online or mobile payments, form submissions, and other traditionally in-office transactions ensures that residents can “do business” with government from anywhere. Digital access to permitting and business licensing functions further supports economic development. Non-emergency notification systems can even be deployed to boost support of local businesses.
ROI for Governments
Cloud-based technologies benefit jurisdictions by enabling continuity of operations and supporting revenue, development, and quality of life. The cloud also offers cities and counties ROI in other ways, from enhancing security to minimizing IT footprints. Top benefits specific to the public sector include the following:
1. Reduce Capital Budget
As tax revenue continues to be reduced or uncertain, creating budget savings can protect valuable programs and services. The cloud makes budget planning more predictable and saves money in the long run by eliminating expensive equipment purchases and on-premises infrastructure maintenance costs.
2. Minimize IT Burden
Maintaining servers on site means IT staffs that are already stretched thin must perform backups, restore software, and maintain data. Eliminating the onus of overseeing on-premises servers frees up IT resources that can be redirected to more urgent community needs.
3. Improve Security
Experienced cloud providers employ teams of security experts to make sure data is safe. Equally important, the cloud environment provides superior disaster recovery capabilities. The cloud is a more reliable environment because of increased security, automated backups, and server redundancy. This is particularly important as remote operations and virtual citizen service options continue.
4. Enhance Scalability
Because cloud solutions are designed for scalability, systems and storage can easily increase without costly hardware purchases when the needs of a community grow or change. The cloud’s agility and flexibility are also crucial in times of crisis–those jurisdictions already in the cloud were better able to pivot to remote work for staff and virtual services for constituents at the onset of COVID-19.
5. Access the Latest Technology
Keeping up to date in a cloud environment is not dependent on budgeting for, purchasing, and installing new hardware, or waiting for the IT staff to deploy software upgrades. Cloud solutions keep software current, while also enhancing remote and mobile capabilities for internal and external connections.
Accelerating a move to the cloud allows organizations to take advantage of its many capabilities that bolster all core areas. As we move out of the COVID-19 crisis and into the future, these benefits remain important considerations for city and county managers.
In addition, a cloud-based digital experience is essential to reopening cities and counties today, and delivering equitable services tomorrow. In recovery and reopening, active participation from all residents informs stronger policy, keeps business alive, and drives growth forward.