What We Learned From Connect 2021
May 17, 2021 by
Connect 2021 will stand out as an affirmation that we are all just as strongly connected as ever before; perhaps even more so. This year’s event honored and celebrated the public sector heroes who have demonstrated time and again what is virtually possible in a tumultuous time. The conference also sought to make attendees’ work lives easier by providing them with new ways to achieve their goals through technology. Following are just a few of the many noteworthy highlights.
In total, a near-record high of 6,168 attendees were inspired and energized by more than 600 training sessions, unique networking experiences, high-profile industry and celebrity speakers, and some well-deserved opportunities to attend to their own health and wellness.
We learned that “virtual” could be synonymous with “engaged.” Attendees absorbed a total of 39,906 hours of content and participated in 671 chat sessions in solution and partner hubs. They made 1,295 meaningful peer connections through Braindates and walked a total of 8,042,813 steps in support of the San Antonio Food Bank.
Innovation and the Cloud
Lynn Moore, president & CEO, Tyler Technologies and Jeff Puckett, chief operating officer, Tyler Technologies celebrate client innovation.
From the opening minutes of Connect, Tyler client innovators took center stage. Exemplar jurisdictions including our many Tyler Excellence Award winners shifted to remote operations, increased virtual services, enhanced citizen engagement, and otherwise accelerated technology innovations to meet new and urgent constituent needs. As Lynn Moore, Tyler’s president & CEO, noted, “These innovations and investments are paving the way for the public sector to emerge from the pandemic transformed and in a stronger position.”
A clear area of acceleration in the public sector is the industry’s move to the cloud. Tyler’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Puckett discussed our mutual cloud journey and what it really means for government technology users. “Simply put,” noted Puckett, “the cloud offers more flexibility to adapt to the rapidly changing world of technology and allows us to innovate and deliver more features to support your operational needs and provide more of what you want.” Puckett noted additional cloud benefits including connectivity, mobility, security, and scalability, along with more timely and stable software releases.
Stories and Lessons
Actor Steve Martin made us laugh and surprised attendees with heartfelt appreciation for their work as well as an encore banjo performance. Purple Heart recipient and U.S. Marine Veteran Megan Leavey renewed our commitment to perseverance and tenacity. Natalie Evans Harris, senior advisor to secretary of commerce and 16-year veteran of the National Security Agency, taught us how to share data rapidly — and responsibly. Other speakers helped us mitigate cybersecurity risk and consider the importance of effectively serving and engaging all generations in our communities. And, in an exceptional panel conversation, Clarence Anthony, National League of Cities (NLC) CEO, and Matt Chase, National Association of Counties executive director, shared their insight and vision on how cities and counties can harness this moment of opportunity to ensure an equitable reopening and recovery.
Product group general sessions and training courses imparted practical ways to break down organizational silos, increase efficiency, share data, and make client lives easier while enhancing community service and valuable connections.
In Public Administration, for example, clients delved into technology that puts their communities first by streamlining back-office processes, providing self-service support tools, and connecting community-facing applications. Community-first, self-service initiatives hold much promise in empowering residents, vendors, and employees with cloud-based applications. Enhanced online customer service portals allow residents and businesses to conduct business with government from any place at any time and automation such as digitized accounts payable processes transform internal operations.
In K-12 Education, we took a moment to reflect on how school transportation was critical in pandemic support, for example in student meal delivery when classrooms closed. Clients were excited to focus on integrations including a new API platform and partner program that links together every element of school bus IoT. This enables districts to access and utilize data from stop arm cameras, GPS devices, student information systems, and more. Exciting new software helps districts track teacher absences and schedule substitute instructors from a pool of qualified subs that can be integrated into existing payroll systems. Attendees discussed compliance with 504 and civil right requirements for districts and came away with a strengthened sense of how they help their districts fit into the larger Connected Communities vision, including with bus-to-classroom-to-bus connections.
Important connections were also top of mind for Courts & Justice attendees. Technology solutions in this area connect stakeholders including state, county, and municipal courts, prosecutors and public defenders, jails, auditors, police departments, and probation offices to share information and better serve their communities. Critically, part of what lies ahead for courts includes ensuring any changes in interactions with the justice system are digitally accessible and equitable for all parties involved. Some of these interactions include alternatives to in-court procedures such as paperless processes with other justice partners via a new justice partner platform and electronic warrants.
In Public Safety, we recognized that demand for first responders to do more continues to grow. More mobile and analytical tools will help clients do more with their foundational solutions including CAD and records management. We look forward to guiding clients to the most innovative tools available, including cloud technology, when agencies are ready.
In all of these areas, surfacing, sharing, and analyzing data provides internal and external stakeholders with key insights around performance and policy and program impact. Moving forward, new insights for decision-makers, partners, and the public, will enable smart resource allocation and effective solutions to a wide range of community challenges.
Regulatory & Platform Alliance Partners
For the first time, we welcomed regulatory clients and Entellitrak platform partners to Connect. These new attendees were excited by the roadmap of solutions to help them better serve citizens through inspection, licensing, and enforcement. Our Platform Alliance partners received in-depth training on how to best leverage Tyler offerings to expand their business opportunities. Clients and partners alike were able to meet other Tyler experts and public sector staff from around the country, and the larger Connect community was likewise eager to learn about the flexibility and power of the case management platform.
A recent security report noted that cyberattacks on state and local governments are up 50% in the last three years. Extended work from home has increased cybersecurity risks, and the threat landscape is evolving rapidly. With this context, special keynote speakers Matt O’Neill, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent, and Dan Lohrmann, Chief Security Officer at Security Mentor, Inc. were particularly popular with attendees. In fact, the live Q&A session after Dan Lohrmann’s session was so engaging that questions were still streaming in as the talk was closing. These speakers elaborated on current and relevant cybercrime trends and shared expert insights on staying vigilant against attacks.
Thank you to our Visionary Sponsor, Amazon Web Services, who provided three sessions on organizational resiliency and business continuity in the cloud, as well as addressing regulatory cybersecurity and data security in the cloud. Thank you also to American Express, our Premium Sponsor, for supporting the wellness challenge that kept our attendees active and resulted in a $14,000 donation to the San Antonio Food Bank. Thank you to our other 16 carefully selected sponsors, as well, for supporting public sector strategies that enable problem-solving connections.
Finally, a heartfelt thank you to our clients, many of whom are represented in the mosaic picture above, who logged on and joined us virtually with energy, passion, and ideas. Thank you for what you do day in and day out under extraordinary circumstances.
We look forward to seeing you all — in-person — for Connect 2022, May 15-18, in Indianapolis, Indiana!