Fearless men and women crossed the open sea in the name of freedom. It is in this vein when Winthrop famously dubbed the new world the “city on a hill,” a beacon of hope for generations to come. Sparing you the history recap, ingenuity, and innovation advanced this great nation to where we are today.
While flying cars are still a bit pie in the sky, IoT, intelligent edge, and the Smart Community are on the rise as communities look to evolve to meet the demands of citizens and close the digital divide. For state and local governments, the time to leave legacy technology in the past is now. Federal funding is fueling smart community transformation, by modernizing technology, governments can more effectively identify problems and address community needs.
Outdated technology is one of state and local governments’ highest hurdles. The pandemic illustrated government shortcomings, as these older systems and solutions simply could not support the demands of the digital age. These legacy systems put the population at risk, as unreliability in the network impacts processes critical to public safety – such as software management platforms, connected sensors, blockchain digital twins, and automated solutions.
As network pitfalls put the population in jeopardy, smart community CIOs see the value in migrating from legacy infrastructure and systems, with over 72% of CIOs stating plans to accelerate modernization deployments. The top advice from CIOs with completed initiatives is “don’t delay, do it now.”
Nearly 90% of respondents to a National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) survey stated remote work as a regular rather than occasional occurrence. People need a network capable of supporting remote or hybrid work environments. And while municipalities are interested in migrating to the cloud, finding the right technology fit at the right price point is proving harder than expected for many. Furthermore, IT workloads continue to rise as budgets remain static, overburdening these teams. The demand for greater automation to lessen these workloads should be no surprise.
The recent report, “Keeping Pace with Modernization in the Age of Rapid Obsolescence,” highlighted the strain legacy solutions are putting on IT. Nearly 60% of government entities use software or systems that are more than five years old, and over 40% of agencies stated spending more than 25% of IT budgets maintaining legacy systems.
In December, NASCIO released the State CIO Top 10 for 2022, with Digital Government and Digital Services cemented in the second slot as a key area of concern for improving citizen experience and increasing citizen engagement. More specific areas of interest include:
We see examples of this from around the globe. Take Boras Stad, for example. In January, the Swedish municipality successfully completed one of the nation’s largest cloud-managed network installations. Citizens experience an immediate impact with more reliable public Wi-Fi, and the city’s IT team enjoys increased automation and simplified network management.
The project demanded nearly 3,500 ExtremeWireless Wi-Fi 6 Access Points to expand network capacity, deliver faster data speeds and improve coverage reliability. ExtremeCloud IQ delivered the city’s IT team with robust visibility and single pane of glass management. The reduced complexity empowers a team of three to manage network infrastructure.
In the United States, from sea to shining sea, we’re seeing network modernization projects take shape in cities like Memphis, Milwaukee, Seattle, with New York taking top Smart City marks. Digital services separating the Big Apple from the bunch include Internet speed and reliability and information on traffic congestion through mobile phones and cultural activities. As of the 2020 Global Smart City Index, Gotham was one of two U.S. cities receiving an ‘A’ rating.
“It is no surprise that digital government, broadband, and legacy modernization are ranked as high priorities by state CIOs,” said Doug Robinson, NASCIO Executive Director. “The past two years have highlighted their importance to governors, state CIO customers, and the citizens they serve.”
What does legacy migration mean for your municipality? Allow me to break it down:
Eric Sweden, program director for enterprise architecture and governance at NASCIO, outlined the three key drivers for legacy migration and modernization as cost, capacity, and skills.
Management and maintenance of legacy systems are expensive. And as systems evolve, the costs continue to pile up, and capability reaches a point of diminishing returns. Legacy systems can’t keep up with the Joneses.
Capacity demands fluctuate. Without scale, there is no agility, and as bandwidth-hungry applications come to the fore, the ability to support initiatives like proactive incident response, AI, and big data analytics is central to the smart community.
The skills shortage is a double-edged sword. As older systems earn antiquated status, IT teams no longer learn maintenance. Conversely, many city community CIOs lack the skills to deploy modern networking solutions, turning to trusted technology partners for the transformation.
Before embarking on a modernization project, compliance, complexity, and culture are three obstacles standing in the way. Compliance matters. When moving to modern IT infrastructure, government IT must be hyper-vigilant about leaving agency or citizen data vulnerable. Disruption is disruptive. IT teams are used to using certain tools for certain functions with certain expected results. Complexity will rear its ugly head, but over time operations will acquiesce.
While American exceptionalism may merely be a myth, that doesn’t mean we can’t be the shiny Smart City on a hill. Support a hybrid world and engage your citizens. Start your digital transformation today with a partner you can trust.
A smart world awaits.
For more information on transforming your community, read our eBook “Building a Smart Community” to see how other communities have already begun making digital improvements to drive better outcomes for their citizens.