Government Technology

Ohio City Deploys 2-in-1 Email and Social Media Archiving



May 8, 2013 By

For governments, complying with public records requests and eDiscovery regulations in recent years has transcended beyond providing traditional documentation like email records. The rise of social media has created a need for governments to also keep track of data such as Twitter and Facebook posts.

Many city governments archive internal and external emails using specialized archiving platforms. In May 2009, Tipp City, Ohio, deployed ArcMail Defender as its email archiving platform. Two months ago, the city began testing a new add-on feature called ArcMail Social – an extension of the existing platform that also archives social media data and stores it alongside archived emails.

Ohio’s Open Records and Open Meetings laws, better known as the “Sunshine Laws,” give Ohioans access to government meetings and records, according to the official website of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Doug Arnold, the city’s IT supervisor, explained that to his knowledge, no public records requests have been made for city emails or social media data. But Tipp City wanted to take a proactive approach to archiving in case the information is requested.

“We only use Facebook and Twitter right now,” Arnold said. “So it automatically catches all that stuff that is posted on our social media pages.”

In order to retrieve data, a city employee can perform a search using key information such as dates and keywords. The more information provided in the search, the easier it is to retrieve the data.

If a public records request is made, retrieved data can be sent to the requester electronically. According to Arnold, city employees can also retrieve the information for internal purposes.

Social media posts that are deleted from the city’s official Facebook and Twitter pages are also captured through the social platform – not just posts that remain visible. The city would therefore be able to provide even deleted information in response to a public inquiry.

But although social media data is archived in Tipp City, Arnold said city employees are not allowed to use Facebook and Twitter during work hours, except for a select few who have administrative privileges to post city-related information as part of their job duties. Employees have to use personal time to post comments and tweets on the city’s official social media sites.

When the city only archived email, a single ArcMail appliance was sufficient to capture the data. Once Tipp City deployed ArcMail Social, the city had to upgrade and have existing archives copied over to the new appliance.

According to Rory Welch, ArcMail’s CEO, the social add-on feature cannot be purchased by itself. Organizations must have the email archiving platform for the add-on feature to feed into. Pricing for up-front implementation of the social platform ranges from $4,500 to $17,500, depending on how much data storage is needed.  
 

Photo from Shutterstock


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Comments

Anil Chawla    |    Commented May 9, 2013

Hats off to Mr. Arnold and Tipp City for recognizing the importance of this issue. Converting social media into an email archive certainly has a number of pros and cons (i.e. social media is rich and interactive, but email is static and disconnected), but nonetheless, it is great to see *some* system being put in place. It's worth noting that there are a wide variety of other technology solutions to this issue, including many at a much lower price point than listed above (and that don't require the purchase of email archiving too). One alternative approach is the technology used by North Carolina and a number of other state & local governments: http://www.govtech.com/e-government/North-Carolina-Archives-Social-Media.html (Disclaimer: I worked on the North Carolina archive)

RealOscar    |    Commented May 9, 2013

I wouldn't even want to begin to define what would be relevant to save. To try and create a policy would be an absolute nightmare. It would appear that the memory needed to accomplish such a task could be astronomical. Everyone wants to be on the cutting edge by adopting new technologies, but they little realize the cans of worms that they open.

Julian Ranger    |    Commented May 10, 2013

A slightly (!) cheaper way of archiving all your social media, and social media interactions, and then having accessing to all the data by calendar, search, etc is to use SocialSafe - http://business.socialsafe.net Cost for most expensive version is only $28 per year. SocialSafe also gives you features for social media engagement with its Insights functionality

Anil Chawla    |    Commented May 10, 2013

@RealOscar: You are absolutely right that the volume of data creates challenges. Fortunately, there are automated cloud-based solutions that capture the data automatically, and provide unlimited data storage as part of the low monthly subscription fee. You can take a look at ArchiveSocial (http://archivesocial.com) as one such example (disclaimer: I am the founder). Beyond just saving the data, you are right that "relevance" matters. Not everything is of record value. Since our focus is on records management (and not just "backup" like many of the other services you will hear about), we are working on a streamlined solution for appropriate record retention schedules.


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