U.S. cities are using cloud strategies to scale up new services to citizens, manage cybersecurity centers and prepare for 5G.
Infrastructure modernization is moving more slowly in government organizations, but IT teams in U.S. cities are turning to cloud computing for the same reasons that private companies are making the shift: scalability, security and efficiency. Cities are turning to major cloud providers to help them in this transition.
Mike Daniels, vice president of global public sector at Google Cloud, said his team was working with a number of state and local governments to move from old on-site systems to cloud-based environments.
Daniels said many government agencies have accelerated cloud projects over the past year to facilitate remote work for employees, secure information and create new services for residents. Unemployment rose during the pandemic, reaching 14.8% in April 2020 and ending the year at 6.7%, according to the Congressional Research Service. Several states have turned to cloud services to improve their unemployment systems.
Last fall, Rhode Island launched a virtual career center with Google Cloud and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development worked with Google to modernize its processing of UI claims.
Daniels said business continuity and employee training on cloud technology are two common barriers for the city’s IT teams.
“For the IT teams involved, being able to handle the migration process of an existing system can seem overwhelming when they are currently doing everything in their power to simply keep the lights on,” he said.
To support a modernization project in Pittsburgh, the Google team chose a technology platform that was familiar to the IT team so that there was no disruption to current workflows.
Curt Savoie, director of the Global Smart Cities Strategies Program at IDC, said that the best place for cities to start modernization work is in a single area that can be self-contained and single-source or with plans to deploy the Internet of Things smaller. not yet critical of the mission.
“This can allow IT staff to gain some experience in managing the system and the elements that the cloud brings to the table without attempting a complete migration of the data center,” he said.
Savoie said that the migration to the cloud made sense for the city’s IT teams who want to:
- Reduce the physical footprint of a data center
- Evolve an app or deploy one quickly
- Ensure high availability and resilience from a cloud ecosystem
Here’s a look at how four cities have used cloud technology to improve city services and modernize IT infrastructure.
Improved connectivity in Carlsbad, California
Carlsbad’s Innovation Director David Graham worked with Cisco to improve the city’s overall communications infrastructure, which he described as a “Frankenstein network.” He said in a video interview with Cisco that upgrading the network offered many benefits to the city, including the ability to manage large amounts of data and improve Internet service in public libraries.
The time-test upgrade also included a high-speed network for municipal services. Graham said in the video interview that he saw that the biggest 5G opportunity was to provide low-cost or no-cost connectivity to underserved neighborhoods.
Graham said in an email that Carlsbad uses Cisco’s software-defined access technology for the city’s core operations and digital information network.
“We use third-party fiber and improve its capacity with Cisco dense wave division multiplexing, which allows us to take a few strands of fiber and do a lot more,” Graham said.
This infrastructure gives the city a ring that reaches 200 Gbps and 10 Gbps at the city offices. Graham previously stated that there was no basic operating ring and that the sites were getting between 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps.
“In addition to connecting the city’s sites and using the network for core operations, our connectivity roadmap (includes) connecting all of our smart traffic lights and our SCADA system for water and wastewater services,” Graham said.
Strengthening Cyber Command in New York
The city’s cybersecurity team leads threat management and operates a 24-hour security operations center. The team works with more than 100 agencies and offices in the city to ensure that systems are built and operated securely to ensure that public assistance and health care are not compromised. NYC Cyber Command also operates a NYC Secure app that alerts users to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, unsecured Android apps and system tampering. The team uses a cloud infrastructure to find and mitigate threats.
Cyber Command uses a variety of Google cloud services, including Cloud Storage, Computer Storage, Kubernetes Engine and Workspace. The team uses BigQuery to analyze data in batches and streams.
Modernize water management in Washington D.C.
When the pandemic began, DC Water already had 90% of the organization’s cloud systems, according to a microsoft blog post. The final step was to move operations and services in person. The organization has worked with ESRI to move applications, business processes and customer requests to Azure. The objectives of this work included improving data security and replacing paper processes with digital processes.
Durmus Cesur, head of work and asset management for DC Water, told Microsoft in the blog post that Azure was the best solution to provide continuous availability and scalability.
The move to the cloud has also helped improve security, as DC Water staff moved away during the pandemic. The team used Azure Sentinel, Cloud App Security and other Microsoft applications to strengthen cybersecurity defenses.
The director of enterprise applications, Hari Kurup, said in the blog post that DC Water plans to move to fully cloud-based operations without desktop or physical infrastructure in the next 10 years. It plans to use PowerApps to achieve this goal.
Use Google Maps to track wildfires in Los Angeles
The City of Los Angeles Information Technology Agency wanted to find a user-friendly format to communicate urgent information to residents. The team first used the Google Maps platform to help people prepare for the weather. They combined data from Google’s commercial databases, the National Weather Service and other sources to publish layers of information on a map of the region. Residents can use the map to find supplies or information about them.
The city also uses Google Maps to track information about forest fires. These maps include nearby evacuation centres and other services. In 2017, the Skirball Fire card racked up 3.5 million views within 36 hours of its launch. Ted Ross, the city’s chief information officer, said in a Google Workspace blog post that his team chose Google Maps because the tool was familiar to so many people.