Innovation Issues Facing Municipalities
Municipalities, such as cities, counties, water agencies, and special districts, face a variety of innovation challenges. Most municipalities lack agile infrastructure and often operate with outdated, obsolete technology. The recent rise in cloud platforms, cloud software, cellular communications, and Internet Of Things (IoT) devices has created an opportunity for municipalities to access superior solutions at lower costs.
Flexibility And Cost Savings
Software as a Service, or SaaS models eliminate the need for large upfront infrastructure investments and reduce IT (information technology) hardware and maintenance costs. Municipalities can access software applications and services through subscription-based pricing models, and therefore pay only for what they need and use. This type of purchasing is especially beneficial for cash-strapped municipalities with limited budgets.
This shift from a CapEx (capital expense) model to an OpEx (operating expense) model provides organizations with current technology for a fraction of the cost. Rather than purchasing and owning hardware and software as part of an IT department, municipalities are seeking software-as-a-service or SaaS solutions in the same way the private sector has, reducing costs and improving efficiency. A cloud-based SaaS software model provides cost savings in terms of future-proofing, meaning the customer or user is always accessing the latest version of the software, thus getting the greatest value for the money spent.
Reducing The IT Burden
SaaS software solutions offer municipalities a way to reduce their IT burden by shifting ownership and responsibility away from the municipality and onto the software service provider. In this way, municipalities can purchase the use of the software or the service, without having to own the software itself. Under the traditional CapEx model, municipalities purchase servers and software licenses. This requires the development of a full IT department to manage hardware, operating systems, and software. In addition, the purchased software requires patches and updates to be performed on-site by consultants at considerable expense. The software updates often require systems to be offline or unavailable for a period of time.
Shifting Responsibilities For Security
Under the traditional software ownership model, the municipality has 100% responsibility for the security of the network and its data. The exponential growth in cyber attacks and malware is an alarming trend and one that is difficult for most organizations to stay ahead of proactively. Shifting to a cloud-based SaaS model enables municipalities to enjoy the protections afforded by cloud technology. Cloud service providers adhere to strict standards governing user access, data security, encryption, and storage. Hosting software and data in the cloud provides an added layer of protection both from threats and the ability to quickly regain operations and data in the event of a breach. In this way, cloud-based software or SaaS, offers redundancy and resiliency that traditional software cannot match. This is especially important when it comes to operating critical infrastructure applications. Cloud-based SaaS helps municipalities lower the risks related to data security, malware, and cyber attacks.
Flexibility and Cost Savings
Beyond SaaS, cloud platforms and cloud computing present an opportunity to revolutionize municipal government, providing flexibility, scalability and cost savings. As organizations seek to bring together IT and OT (operational technology) data, the need to reduce software data silos becomes increasingly important. Cloud-based software is able to scale to meet the needs of the organization. Municipalities, as well as other businesses, need this type of flexibility to improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, improve collaboration, and support innovation.