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How a Local Government IT Strategy can Benefit from Managed Services
Published in govtech.com on November 5, 2020
From the article: How a Local Government IT Strategy can Benefit from Managed Services published in govtech.com
Across the United States, smart city initiatives and digital transformation trends are shaping local governments' approaches to information technology (IT). Meanwhile, state and local government technology is being heavily influenced by connectivity and faster networking, including the adoption of 5G.
However, building out a much-needed networking infrastructure can prove difficult for the public sector. Local governments must meet strict requirements with limited budgets. When it comes to local government IT strategy and technology adoption, government leaders should consider tapping into managed services so they can build from a foundation of reliability and robust security.
Here's why taking advantage of managed services can be the best option for ensuring network stability and actively identifying and defending against threats while accommodating the budget constraints of the public sector.
SMART CITIES AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION DRIVE NETWORKING NEEDS
The challenge for those driving municipal government IT strategy is how to transition to a networking infrastructure that can not only provide a foundation for the transformation of existing service delivery but also accommodate emerging use cases. The infrastructure must be supported by strong business continuity planning and capabilities to guarantee service delivery to citizens, especially as systems become more intertwined and automated.
Digital transformation is a driving force behind smart city development, which demands reliable connectivity to applications and resources. But as state and local government technology trends also encompass emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G to support smart buildings and autonomous vehicles, there's even more opportunity for threat actors to compromise security. For municipal governments grappling with budget constraints, being innovative and staying secure at the same time is a tall order.
Just as the key to smart city development is identifying specific goals and projects with metrics that can be measured, building a network infrastructure should be based on a needs assessment that is tied to desired capabilities and services.
The smart cities movement involves a great deal of digitization. This includes the use of sensors and data collection and analysis to better manage a whole host of services, from online portals for paying taxes and applying for permits for water and power delivery as well as traffic management. In parallel, digital transformation is data-dependent, which means it requires a network infrastructure that can support transferring large volumes of information at high speeds.
In addition to a strong networking infrastructure, a local government IT strategy that involves significant digitization means a migration from on-premises to cloud-based solutions in remote data centers as well as smaller hubs to support edge computing. Though cloud computing offers many benefits, including better uptime and compliance, building out the infrastructure can be an expensive proposition for a municipality to undertake on its own. Digital transformation involves breaking down silos between departments so that they are no longer maintaining different applications and can communicate seamlessly. This results in better overall efficiency and improved service delivery for citizens.
However, assessing and building out a robust networking infrastructure to connect remote data centers, edge computing and IoT devices is not for the faint of heart. Add to that the migration to cloud computing and unifying applications and platforms across the entire municipality, and IT leaders face a daunting task that may not be feasible without outside help.
COLLABORATE TO CONSTRUCT A MODERN IT INFRASTRUCTURE
Not only is it difficult for a budget-constrained municipality to build its own IT infrastructure, but keeping up with advances in technology while staying compliant is also a challenge, especially as citizens expect the same user experience they receive from private sector companies.
Because it can help to quickly establish the secure networking and computing infrastructure necessary to support digital transformation and a smart city agenda, enlisting the help of a managed services provider should be a high priority for any local government IT strategy. A managed service provider is in a strong position to address issues and vulnerabilities before they become a crisis by proactively securing your network and data with strong cyber security policies and procedures.
Robust security is enabled by the modernization of a municipality's current IT infrastructure, something a managed service provider can do efficiently and at scale, whether it's providing and managing end-user workstations or upgrading your networking so it's faster and more secure. They don't replace your technology team so much as augment it by making sure your infrastructure is current and compliant. This allows you to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as your smart city agenda—which your managed service provider can also support.
From a budget perspective, a provider enables you to pay a predictable monthly fee for your network, computing and data storage needs, without having to make huge capital investments. You can scale up or down as your needs change. A third party can even provide targeted managed services, such as managed security services or managed network services, including wide area network optimization services that can help support the performance of even the most intensive apps, whether in-house, externally hosted or in the cloud.
If your local government IT team plans to take the lead on most initiatives, a managed services provider can ensure network redundancy and uptime through business continuity services, including supporting remote collaboration through secure connections in the event of a sudden need to shift to working off-site.
State and local government technology trends, including smart city development that leverages IoT and 5G, can be difficult to incorporate into a local government IT strategy. As a collaborative partner, a managed services provider can help maintain regular operations while modernizing infrastructure in a scalable, cost-effective manner.