Currently operating and maintaining one of the most modern municipal technology environments, it is the responsibility of the IT Department to provide high quality, modern technology services to City departments, ultimately enhancing the quality of services to the public. As a strategic partners with all departments, the Information Technology Department plans for technology initiatives and funding needs for the next ten (10) years as part of its Information Technology (IT) Strategic Plan. The IT Strategic Plan further shows how tightly technology is integrated into the work environment and provides direction for future replacements and improvements to continually enhance the services provided to the public.
As aligned with the City of Tamarac’s Strategic Plan – as shown on the City’s public website – , the following outlines the future direction in technology that the City is taking:
1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications, such as accounting, payroll and human resources have been and will continue to be the core of information technology services. The City plans to migrate to a new system that will further merge enterprise and web based systems and extend web based access making it more convenient to conduct business with the City.
2. Cloud Computing hosts software applications on vendors’ facilities that can be accessed from anywhere over an Internet connection. This model has become very popular as more and more systems became available in the Cloud. The City is already taking advantage of some of the offerings with the hosted website, performance management system, open town hall, etc…. A more significant utilization of the Cloud began in the past year with the backup / recovery systems, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Exchange.
3. Virtual City Hall / Citizen Portal - The City considers its web site as a Virtual City Hall where all walk-in services are also available on-line, as has been the goal of our City. The City endeavors to have a technology environment that provides for transparent government through streaming of commission meetings, posting of solicitation results, etc…. The long term goal is to provide City services around the clock through the use of web and other technologies. Tamarac’s web site now offers personalization and other social networking features where users can customize the content they see. As more of the internet traffic is now originating from mobile devices, presenting the website in the device appropriate formats has been critical. In this regard, the City is developing a new website, a new portal and a new truly mobile app for Apple IOS and Google Android devices.
4. Smart City Initiatives - As the City constructs (or re-constructs) new facilities, the technology employed is a key and central focus. For example, in the recent construction of new fire stations, there are many devices that are now connected to the network (for remote control and monitoring), such as Fire Alerting Systems, HVAC systems, SCBA systems, Exhaust Control Systems, Generators, Fuel Tanks, etc…. The building is outfitted with network-based video surveillance and access control (via card reader) for almost every door, and uses video intercom systems at gates and entrances which utilize the City’s VoIP telephone system. The City’s “Smart Parks” are connected via high speed fiber connections, have full and reliable WiFi coverage, full video surveillance and access control (to all doors), remote control (over the network) of lighting and electrical outlets, smart irrigation systems, etc…. The City is dramatically embracing the IoT concept enabling efficiencies in many areas. Most recently, the City has been discussing “smart” technologies for use in water meter reading, water service, centralized HVAC and lighting control, street lights and sports lighting…and most interestingly “presence” detection so to help “count” usage of certain facilities and rooms, and to automatically turn/on lights when in use.
5. Field / Tablet / Portable Computing - With the introduction of the iPad and other tablets, the City’s website now provides automatic recognition of mobile devices and offers a mobile website customized for such devices. The City has embraced mobile devices for field use and other services. As our desktop/laptop leases expire in 2015 and 2016, the City will be making a transition to a hybrid environment where most of the end users will be equipped with touch based devices with docking stations serving as desktops and mobile devices at the same time.
6. 24/7 Customer Service - 24/7 Customer service, on-line or live, is now expected for most reputable businesses, and customers will expect the same level of service from governments. Call centers (central or distributed) equipped with the appropriate technologies in servicing customer needs are now expected more than a luxury.
7. Social Networking - Social networking of text, video and audio kind has now a prominent place in the business environment, including the City of Tamarac. Most local governments have been slower to adopt due to public records and retention requirements and staffing challenges.
8. Increased Disaster Recovery / Security Efforts - As threats on the security of personal information increases, a higher emphasis is placed on disaster recovery, business continuity and data integrity. Backups are now stored in the cloud and a core firewall will be installed to further protect critical assets in the data center.