Editors note: Today our guest blogger is Jason Kirkland, Technology Projects Manager for the City of Lewisville, Texas. Jason is recognized by Google as a Government Transformer for his innovative usage of technology to improve information sharing among city staff.
City of Lewisville in Texas offers a small community atmosphere with all of the urban amenities. We are always looking for ways to improve our community and the lives of the people who call Lewisville home.
The City is constantly evaluating its IT infrastructure and services to increase efficiency and effectiveness and reduce costs. One area of focus was email and calendar which were provided to our users via Lotus Notes along with a separate Blackberry server to sync mobile devices. After a thorough analysis of cloud-based solutions from various providers, we decided to migrate to Google Apps for Government. The migration not only reduced costs in software license and server maintenance, it also brought robust functionalities for our staff to collaborate better and be more productive. Employees automatically access the most current version of Google Apps, eliminating the need for software patching and upgrades. There is no more confusion caused by the various versions of software people are using. They are also able to gain mobile access to emails, calendars, and documents from virtually anywhere with Internet access.
Google Apps is also more reliable and customizable than the other cloud solutions we evaluated. It provides API access for our developers to harness and integrate with other internal systems. I created an online GIS Map using Google Spreadsheets, Google Maps, and Google Fusion Tables that allowed us to turn a static paper map into an electronic one that is interactive and easy to use. The City is even using Google Video to store and share footage of our water and sewer systems so that we can easily access and analyze this data. For less money than what we previously paid for system maintenance alone, we get much more than just an email and calendar replacement!
Google Apps implementation partner Cloud Sherpas made our migration a smooth process. During a two-week period, we migrated all of our 644 users from Lotus Notes to Google Apps.
The examples above are few of many, and surely more will come as our city continues to use Google’s products to simplify processes from project management to police dispatch. I am honored that Google recognized me as a Government Transformer. With the right tools, my colleagues and I can collaborate and communicate more effectively and efficiently than ever before.