Cloud Computing in the Public Sector

Trent Warren
Read Time: 5 minutes

Cloud computing isn’t just for the private sector, it’s used in the public sector too. As a matter of fact, Gartner estimates that “almost half of the government organizations are actively using cloud services.”  

Whether it’s managing website traffic for a government agency or optimizing public employee workflow, cloud computing plays a major role in the public sector. 

In addition, Gartner estimates that local governments spend, 20.6% of their IT budgets on cloud, and national governments spend 22%.

With local governments spending more on the cloud than ever before, public agencies are realizing how much value cloud technology brings to their organization.  

Below are a few examples of cloud computing implementation in the public sector and how local governments are serving their communities better with the power of the cloud.

Cloud Enables Efficient Emergency Responses in San Diego 

In 2007, San Diego County was devastated by wildfires, ultimately affecting over 3 million residents. When residents visited SDCountyEmergency.com for the latest evacuation information, the county’s on-premise servers failed. The 12,000 page views per hour crashed the website, leaving residents unable to receive updates on evacuation procedures. 

San Diego County addressed the situation by adopting Microsoft Dynamics CRM in 2010, hosted in Microsoft Azure, to create a new emergency portal website. The new portal allowed staff to update the website with access from any location.   

Going forward, the ability to update the website’s portal remotely will increase reliability for citizens in future emergency situations.   

With the adoption of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the Office of Emergency Services reduced its costs by 78 percent by choosing to use a cloud-based solution in Azure rather than continuing to maintain on-premise servers.

But the portal’s value is more than just saving on costs. It’s about saving people’s lives.  

In 2015, San Diego County’s Office of Emergency Services joined up with Microsoft CityNext partner Adoxio, which was responsible for updating the portal and optimizing it for mobile and tablets.   

Now powered by its new name, Microsoft Dynamics 365, the emergency portal has its own app, is bilingual, and incorporates push notifications with the latest updates and most breaking news.  

Microsoft Dynamics and Azure cloud computing now power the San Diego County’s Office of Emergency Services and serve as a better solution in emergency situations. 

“At the end of the day, our county has an emergency portal that is reliable during emergency response and recovery activities. Residents know they can go to our website or app for verified emergency public information—in many formats—to make decisions that help ensure their safety,” said Robert Barreras, Senior Emergency Services Coordinator. 

Google Maps Platform Navigates Workload in Chicago

We’re all familiar with some sort of mapping app technology. Whether it’s using a ride-sharing app or simply just looking for directions, mapping technology is prevalent in our daily lives.   

However, Google Maps’ platform serves more than just getting from point A to point B.  For example, the Google Maps platform, paired up with dotMaps technology, helped the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Project Coordination Office (PCO, manage their work, cut down on conflicts, save taxpayer money, and improve quality of life.

Chicago needed to “not only increase its investment in street paving projects but also invest in infrastructure projects to drive efficiency—bringing city departments and utilities together to collaborate on reducing conflicts between construction projects.” 

CDOT knew they needed some sort of software to better manage all city projects under one umbrella so they implemented a new Global Information System (GIS) management software. 

The software allowed the city and external utilities to manage all the projects and meet the demands of the CDOT’s Division of Infrastructure Management and Office of Underground Coordination.  

Thus, Chicago teamed up with SADA Systems, a Google Cloud Premiere Partner, to build an external platform to assist city workers with coordinating city project workloads.  

With dot maps, an interactive web mapping service built on Google Maps and the Google Cloud Platform, Chicago has now had tools to create projects and resolve overlapping ones using geolocation, all in real-time, and solve a problem for city officials and planners: Coordinating public and private construction projects to avoid duplicate work. 

As a result, the City of Chicago was able to “manage work, cut down on conflicts, save taxpayer money, and improve quality of life by reducing unnecessary roadwork and easing traffic congestion,” all due in part from SADA Systems dotMaps technology, powered by the Google Cloud. 

In addition, a grand total of 30,000 city projects could be viewed in one location on a live interactive map, saving Chicago $24 million from duplicative work.  With the familiarity and commonality of Google Maps, city workers were able to intuitively understand and use the dotMaps application.   

“The Google Maps interface was a big selling point in getting dozens of agencies to buy into working with dotMaps. City workers were familiar with the Google Maps interface. They didn’t need training because they already knew how to use Google Maps’ functionality.” said Lawrence Olzsak, IT Director of Chicago Department of Transportation

Cloud Technology Powers McKinney, Texas

How does a city prepare itself for a 365% population growth rate?  It adopts the cloud. 

McKinney, Texas, a suburb 15 miles north of Dallas, has had its city population boom over the last 20 years to 180,000.  

At max capacity, McKinney is projected to grow between 350K to 400K people.

With a projected population that size, it wouldn’t make much sense for McKinney to hold onto an on-premise IT infrastructure as it would be costly to maintain, difficult to scale, and insufficient storage space to handle the massive amounts of data involved. 

On average, organizations save approximately 30% with the cloud over a traditional on-premise server solution.

Thus, Chris Chiancone CIO of McKinney, Texas turned to AWS as a platform to handle its land-management and records-management systems.  

The City of McKinney began their migration process with AWS’s foundational products EC2 (IaaS) and S3 (PaaS) for cloud storage space and eventually adopted other AWS cloud services such as ElastiCache, Elastic Load Balancing, Lambda, and Elastic Beanstalk.  

AWS allows McKinney to use the same city resources in order to do the work required without the need to own any infrastructure.  

Owning an infrastructure is as silly as owning your own power plant. Just because we consume energy, doesn’t mean we need to own the vehicle to deliver that energy,” said Chiancone.

With AWS cloud technology, McKinney can stay in front of its fast population growth rather than react to it. 

As a result, McKinney can now allocate its budget for other city needs instead of using it to pay for the overhead costs of IT infrastructure. “If I can do more with less, then I can return some of those funds back to areas that need it more,” said Chiancone. 

Conclusion

While it’s a common misconception that the cloud is primarily used in the private sector, public agencies are adopting into cloud computing just as fast.  

Many government agencies still favor on-premise over public cloud because data is stored within their control and borders. With the public cloud, infrastructure is shared with different agencies on a pay-as-you-go model and lower cost option.

According to Gartner, the top three government concerns of public cloud aresecurity or privacy issues, lack of features, and concerns about vendor lock-in.” 

However, as mentioned earlier, on-premise infrastructure isn’t scalable or as cost effective as the cloud.

In addition, public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) workloads will actually suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers.

As a leading cloud brokerage firm, DoubleHorn can help government agencies migrate to the cloud to best fit their needs. DoubleHorn brokers services for six different cloud providers: AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud, Rackspace, and IBM

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