June 13, 2013 By Chris Wacker, executive vice president, Laserfiche
In Newport Beach, Calif. -- just 45 miles south of Los Angeles -- IT Manager Rob Houston has his work cut out for him: He's been tasked with tying two dozen city departments and offices and 28 different software systems into one IT infrastructure, all while the government moves into a brand new civic center.
“You have to be creative and cautious in a project like this,” Houston says. “You can’t just concentrate on getting all these systems to work well together -- they need to keep working well together. And in this rapidly changing technology environment, that’s the real challenge: ability and agility.”
A multi-million-dollar IT budget goes a long way toward meeting those goals, as does having knowledgeable people spending that money. Newport Beach has leveraged both over the past few years to build a virtual Newport Beach government inside a very real, state-of-the-art City Hall.
It all started in 2010, when Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry -- who understands and appreciates the power of database technology in government applications -- and the City Council launched a citizen’s task force to examine all city services and departments, and assess the technology available to them.
That task force started by assessing the records repository software. The previous system, purchased in 1998 for $645,000, was little more than a digital filing cabinet, said Houston. And the city wanted something more than an electronic filing cabinet that plays well with other software systems.
The records repository must support electronic workflows that facilitate the routing of documents involving multiple officials and departments. It needed a Web portal with adequate security measures to allow public and private access to different files in the repository. It also needed to monitor records retention schedules and provide auditing to track who opens which restricted records and when. Moreover, City Manager David Kiff has made paperless a priority for the new city hall, Houston said, and a records repository with such features can save hundreds of dollars a year on paper purchases, not to mention the labor saved not working with that paper.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.