YesThe year 2020 will go down in history as one of the most difficult years of all time due to a major pandemic. Despite all the obstacles, the Town of North Branch has faced tough times with resilience and has remained open to the public, performing all of its normal functions without disrupting services to its residents.
Since 2017, the city’s technological infrastructure has been constantly improving with the evolution towards cloud-based services (software-as-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, Voice- as-a-service, AV- as a service and others). There is a significant benefit to pushing all technical challenges to major cloud providers, having the ability to support and be held accountable for audit and regulatory requirements. Local government can then focus on basic services, technical skills, partnerships and a host of other things. Resources will be increasingly used as this trend accelerates. This enables the organization to reduce capital expenditure, increase technological efficiency, and eliminate the risks and high costs associated with existing infrastructure.
Implementation of a cloud-based online agenda, city code, policies as well as a dedicated BCA approved, secure and reliable 1GIG UP / DOWN fiber connection with the supplied MN-IT for a stable internet connection to the town hall building which hosts public security for all their applications. Implementing the city-wide broadband initiative in partnership with Genesis Wireless provided residents with another option. Governor Tim Walz recognized this initiative and proclaimed the Northern Branch as a “community of teleworkers”. Several other cloud-based services are on the way, such as enterprise resource management, archiving, mapping, and the upcoming recently revised website that will integrate all departments while increasing overall efficiency. During the pandemic and the major power outage, eligible staff were able to telecommute as needed.
The pace of change is incredible and well done to all – Council, Commissions and Staff who recognize the urgent need to be a resilient city as we implement more of these cloud services with retention, redundancy, reliability, accessibility, accountability, transparency, fundamentals, stability, integrity, prosperity and disaster recovery as some of the main Criteria. As local governments increasingly run out of revenue, we strive to do more with less and use technology to our advantage. Change therefore happens from within, but it is influenced by the experiences that staff bring with them. We start with the question “What problem are we trying to solve?” The technology then becomes a catalyst for proposing solutions.
RAGINI VARMA is City Clerk and Director of IT for the City of North branch. She can be reached at 651-277-5228 or [email protected]