Why More is Possible in the Cloud

October 21, 2021 by Meredith Trimble

Why More is Possible in the Cloud

It is time for transformation in the public sector. The events of 2020 and 2021 forever changed expectations for how public agencies work, deliver services, and engage with their communities. In the recent blog, “What’s the Opportunity in the Cloud?” we explored why government leaders should harness the momentum of pandemic-accelerated technology to continue to realize measurable results.

Although public sector leaders are tasked with managing this new technology trajectory while also strategizing around smart relief fund investment and navigating public health and political challenges, many are using this context to plan better for future stability. They are doing this by leveraging the cloud for short- and long-term successes.

Pathways in the Cloud

Moving to the cloud is certainly a trend in the public sector. As GovTech notes, “State and local public sector agencies have long been making a move to ‘cloud first’ and now ‘cloud smart’ strategies.” A 2019 NASCIO state CIO survey found 34% of IT leaders had a cloud migration strategy in place, and 51% had a strategy in development. “COVID-19 has opened up the throttle on those efforts,” continued the piece.

Cloud benefits include more predictable budgets, reduced IT infrastructure expenses, enhanced security and disaster recovery, and easier compliance with federal standards like CJIS. Cloud solutions also enable departments to use data as a strategic asset in the design, management, and delivery of innovative programs and services. These solutions create better connections between departments, across agencies and jurisdictions, and with citizens.

More is Possible

To that last point, effectively connecting governments to each other and connecting citizens to government is done best in the cloud. This is important, as the cloud enables governments to realize the promise of the Connected Communities Vision, a long-term technology strategy that serves department and user needs through a common digital foundation.

This foundation integrates workflow, tasks, and processes, and strengthens information-sharing across multiple departments so government leaders and staff have the ability to easily communicate, collaborate, and make data-driven decisions. When technology connects data, people, and processes across agencies and geographic boundaries, government becomes more transparent and responsive, and safer, stronger communities result.

Cloud-based government solutions that support connected communities’ capabilities and outcomes look like this:

  • Transparency and open data initiatives
  • Government e-services that the public and vendors can access through web and mobile apps and portals
  • Interoperability and data-sharing between departments and across jurisdictions
  • Improved insights from easily surfaced and accessible data

These transform the way the public sector works internally and with the public.

Public Sector Proof Points

Cloud-enabled solutions typically improve software installation, upgrades, and support. For all types of government software users, the cloud offers monetary savings, enhanced flexibility, connectivity, mobility, security, and scalability. These benefits manifest themselves differently according to a department’s mission and constituency. In public administration, for instance, enterprise resource planning and civic services cloud-based solutions have most recently enabled remote work and met increased community engagement needs. Self-service portals, remote payroll access, mobile apps, digital workflows, and data and insights are examples. Digital workflows and remote capabilities are important to schools as well. In that environment, the benefits are seen in managing absences and substitutes, capturing accurate attendance, or optimizing bus routes.

Practical benefits of cloud-enabled solutions include:

  • Best user experience
  • Enhanced security protections
  • Reduced IT burden
  • Actionable insights

At present, 65% of Tyler’s clients are selecting cloud deployments for their solutions. New Castle County, Delaware, for instance, transitioned to a cloud-based ERP solution and is now enjoying intuitive, user-centered workflows, self-service capabilities for customers, and increased transparency and dashboard reporting. “From a technology perspective, cloud solutions eliminate hardware costs, ongoing maintenance, and operations costs,” said Michael Hojnicki, New Castle County’s chief of technology. “County leadership predicts ROI will materialize from process efficiencies and improved quality of financial data.”

Ramsey County, Minnesota, used the cloud-native Socrata open data platform and Perspectives to simplify the annual assessor report in a way that is usable and makes sense for all stakeholders. Pierce County, Washington, used the same solution to automate a public ARPA performance report by surfacing financial data in an intuitive, web-based report.

The City of Los Angeles, California, created internal and external access to nearly 1,800 datasets through a cloud-based, centralized DataLA portal. The portal lets residents, employees, other jurisdictions, and the media view and work with the data in several ways. Commonly requested information is formatted into easy-to-understand views. Intuitive dashboards present summary data about city services and expenditures, as well as progress on sustainability plans for the environment and economy.

In Dallas County, Texas, the county and court clerk integrated a cloud-enabled court records platform with its existing case management system to offer up case information to more than 4,100 online users and expand the types of records legal professionals can view. What’s more, the State of Texas partnered with the platform to unite case records spanning across jurisdictions in all 254 counties into a single database. Increased access to cases across hundreds of courts necessitates thoughtful and robust security. Using the AWS Cloud, they can protect the integrity of sensitive court data while still providing appropriate access.

The Central Bucks School District in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, completed a fully virtual implementation of its software as a service (SaaS) cloud solution during the pandemic that will move manual work in static spreadsheets to an efficient, responsive, accessible process for its $342 million budget. Likewise in schools, District 214 in Arlington Heights, Illinois, used its transportation management system to create an innovative shuttle-based schedule to transport nearly 12,000 students to more than 25 off-campus experiential programs. The system’s flexibility accommodates the daily schedule changes of each student and is intuitive for easy staff training.

These and other demonstrated successes represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the public sector’s future in the cloud.

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