In acknowledgment of National Technology Day January 6, 2017, and the efforts of many to help their communities work smarter, I offer the following Top 10 list of electronic tools that local government leaders can use to implement or manage technology.
10) Two-factor authentication (2FA). Starting with the basics … A modern password security policy and implementation should employ two methods. 2FA includes something the user has (such as a token or an authenticator app) as well as something the user knows (password).
9) Electronic signatures. Communities that are seeking time savings in document execution can benefit from an electronic signature workflow. A number of software approaches are available (signature images, “I agree” buttons, transactional, etc.), and each community should evaluate what works best with its long-term document storage strategy while balancing that with the ease of use by mayors and managers.
8) IoT. Wireless and broadband service providers will continue to expand their Internet of Things device offerings, and communities can consider adding sensors and communications equipment for video monitoring, digital signage, river-level monitoring, asset management, and many other applications.
7) Texting to 911. Emergency dispatch centers will continue to advance toward Next Generation 911, and communities should continue to monitor and plan hardware and software upgrades as more detailed location information becomes available from cellular services in their area.
6) Smart city services. Open government, or 24/7 online services for residents, will continue to grow—from permit application and paying bills to fleet management, viewing snow plows in real time or expanding electronic forms to allow for nonemergency incident reporting.
5) Sharing IT resources. The trends of data center virtualization and consolidation among larger cities will continue while disaster recovery, management, and application support will offer opportunities for efficiency at the local level. These projects are most successful when built upon existing successful intergovernmental partnerships.
4) Social media. Social media applications for creating and sharing information will continue to evolve and expand. Local governments need to be poised with a human response when threads move from a neighborhood discussion to organized misinformation regarding public services.
3) Data integration and distribution. Local governments collect and store data. Open-source code applications can be built and shared to analyze data from multiple enterprise or legacy systems. This enables staff to more quickly search outstanding fees or fines to determine, for example, whether a permit can be issued. Mined data can then be displayed and automatically updated on internal and external dashboards.
2) Cybersecurity strategic plan. Organizations should have clear plans and policies to ensure the security and protection of customer data (such as customer credit card information for bill payment, social security numbers on police records, or employee-related HIPPA communications with service providers). The policies should include routine payment card industry testing for PCI compliance, applying filters to email messages, data encryption, archival terms, etc. The plan should be broader than anti-virus protection and involve both endpoint security for protection and detection and routine intrusion testing with actionable information technology countermeasures to reduce risk.
1) Staff training. Organizations need people who understand how to capitalize on and maintain technological advances. Invest in your human capital and provide technology and leadership training.