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Many city and county systems are purchased at a departmental level, beginning and remaining siloed. For example, a government’s public safety dispatching system and the records management system may be different. Court case management and financial ERP systems are likely built on different platforms. The same is true for programs used by planning departments, deed offices, public works, parks and recreation, and others. The emphasis is on internal operations: “does this work for my department’s employees?” This defines any system’s primary goal as serving frontline government employees. That’s a valid starting point. Innovation, however, requires something more.
Every department can’t come up with different answers and survive a crisis or achieve efficient, successful operations. There must be a coordinated strategy in which a government is examining–and meeting–the desired experience for all true stakeholders through its digital infrastructure.
In addition, recent events have necessitated enhanced resident engagement to maintain business continuity, impart emergency information, and gather data in real time and from remote locations.
At Tyler Technologies, an ICMA Strategic Partner, they think of this digital strategy as the GovTech Stack, an adaptation of the well-known marketing technology “MarTech Stack,” education technology “EdTech Stack,” and financial technology “FinTech Stack.” Industries across the world have looked inward to find the right matrix of existing and new technology to improve and automate business processes and the user experience.
A solid GovTech Stack requires that governments think beyond the department level to determine how any system:
- Serves business partners.
- Serves the public.
- Provides internal and external decision makers with actionable insight.
- Ensures security and access to the most up-to-date information.
A complete GovTech Stack accounts for this expanded definition of “stakeholder” and contains:
Data and Analytics
Surfacing meaningful, easy-to-understand data informs better government decisions for improved operations and smarter resource allocation. Transparency enables an informed citizenry and open data paves the way for problem-solving partnerships.
In Buffalo, New York, a robust COVID-19 site provides actionable insight. Not only does the hub give the public access to 12 categories of resources, it connects the city with data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other verified sources to engage both internal and external constituencies. The site gives commissioners and executive-level staff access to the data needed for decision making and analysis.
Expanding virtual options and two-way resident engagement tools provides uninterrupted service to residents at their convenience while maintaining business operations in any circumstances. Real-time civic experience connects the public to government’s services, resources, and information in a way that harnesses participation for stronger communities.
Little Rock, Arkansas, for example, allows residents to enter and track requests for city services through an accessible online portal. Its Citizen Connect Portal contains 311 requests, crime data, planning permits, and housing and neighborhood program information in one place with simple navigation.
Data Storage and Integration
Modern data storage and integration allows agencies to track, collaborate, and report on the data that drives activities forward. Automated workflows remove manual processes as well as errors and strengthen data’s integrity and accessibility.
Again in Buffalo, real-time collaboration around accessible data has been put to use in risk analysis for pandemic-related volunteer deployment such as mapping vulnerable populations with higher rates of preexisting conditions, concentrations of food-insecure seniors or seniors living alone, where to find free mask or meal distribution centers, tracking 311 calls, in addition to targeting messaging to improve response rates for the 2020 U.S. Census.
Admin and Management Systems
Integrated administrative and business management technology foundations power mission-critical operations and break down siloes for greater efficiency and solution-bearing connections.
In Port St. Lucie, Florida, leaders invested in training to show staff how its ERP system is built to connect every aspect of city operations, from the legal department to parks and recreation. Connecting departments to solve a variety of issues resulted in efficiencies that saved the city more than $250,000 annually.
Enterprise-wide cloud architecture provides 24/7 remote access to data and systems, and mitigates security risk with built-in disaster recovery, security compliance, and remote updates. The cloud improves the agility of government to respond quickly to crises and rapidly evolving situations. Cloud benefits include a reduced IT footprint, capital and infrastructure savings, and streamlined workflows with up-to-date information accessible to all stakeholders.
The state of North Carolina and Washington, D.C., were early pioneers in moving their operations to the cloud. Bexar County, located in San Antonio, Texas, moved from on-premises only to a hybrid-cloud model that offers many benefits, including a reduced physical IT footprint, capital cost and infrastructure replacement avoidance, and newly streamlined workflows with relevant information accessible to all stakeholders.
An advanced cybersecurity culture is necessary to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. A robust cybersecurity strategy includes privacy controls, employee education, and managed threat detection.
Lowndes County, Georgia, for example, deployed a managed threat detection service. The very day it was implemented, the service discovered a type of malicious Trojan on a compromised computer that could potentially provide unauthorized access to an attacker.
Each of these components must take into account interoperability across and even beyond the jurisdiction for a mature, integrated GovTech Stack. If any one piece is missing, the stack won’t hold up, leaving important information, insight, or efficiencies to fall through the cracks.
Without a full, modern tech infrastructure in place, sharing data between multiple systems is complicated at best. Bottlenecks, miscommunications, operational delays, security vulnerabilities, and decisions based on anecdote, not fact, remain the norm.
When process and data integration are achieved enterprise-wide, maximum levels of efficiency and insight naturally follow. The key is the technology confluence that eliminates siloes and builds all systems on the fundamental elements of a complete GovTech Stack. Built thoughtfully over time, this will effectively serve all stakeholders in the broadest sense of the word.