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Outdated IT is holding local councils back

Posted on October 4th, 2018 in Civil Construction, Infrastructure, Local State Government

Outdated IT is holding local councils back

Over the past few decades, technology has transformed how governments at all levels operate, making processes more efficient and saving money. But now that technology has aged and become obsolete, councils that can’t afford the upgrades are falling behind.

There’s rarely enough money set aside in budgets for IT, and even when there is, guidance can be lacking in which investments are the highest priority and offer the greatest longevity. In many cases, roll-outs can be so drawn-out that “new” technology has already become outdated by the time it’s implemented.

This is likely to be the case with the National Broadband Network (NBN) in some regions and was also seen with the Department of Defence’s ‘Next Generation Desktop’ program, which saw the department upgrade to Windows 7 by the time Windows 10 was already on the shelves. Federal government departments have also admitted to paying tech companies like Microsoft millions of dollars per year to continue providing support to obsolete operating systems as they postpone upgrades another year.

Councils can break free from this expensive cycle by investing in future-proof technologies that advance along with the rest of the world.

Streamline processes

Many local governments are struggling with overly complex IT architecture involving several generations of machines and software, much of which is incompatible. The reluctance to replace obsolete systems can mean records have to be manually entered multiple times, giving rise to duplication and human error as well as wasted labour that could be spent on more valuable tasks.

This complexity can be broken down by switching to a unified model. With software pulling disparate systems together, data only has to be entered once and is searchable across your whole network.

Save money

Investing in IT doesn’t have to mean hiring more staff or investing in equipment. Moving data to the cloud and paying a fixed fee for managed hosting is a cost-effective alternative.

Supplementing in-house IT with cloud computing means councils won’t have to worry so much about keeping up with the latest hardware and software upgrades. It also frees up IT departments from mundane day-to-day tasks and lets them put their talents to better use.

Expand services

Another benefit of outsourcing is that it offers access to scalable services that can be trialled, hired and dropped as needed, without having to hire and train specialist staff.

If local residents desire more communication with government, councils can hire call centre services at a fraction of the cost of setting up their own, or hire a content marketing agency to manage their websites and social media accounts and raise their public profile.

Strengthen security

Cybersecurity is now the biggest threat facing Australian organisations. According to 2017 figures from the Ponemon Institute and IBM Security, ransomware attacks cost businesses an average of $2.51 million, and under new laws, councils will face extra penalties if personal data is stolen.

Security should be the chief consideration when evaluating managed services and contractors, to make sure data will be safe. Local councils should also make sure they’re fully prepared to adopt cloud services and don’t start migrating before they’re ready.

Get more industry insights

Find out the latest developments in infrastructure and the challenges facing local governments by attending the National Construction Equipment Convention (NCEC).

This three-day event is a chance to meet industry speakers and see the newest technologies. NCEC is coming to Sydney Showground between 15 and 17 November 2018.

Visit ncecaustralia.com.au for full details.

 

 Sources

Parliament of Australia. National Broadband Network Submissions. https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/National_Broadband_Network/NBN/Submissions

Defence Magazine. Focusing on the next generation. http://www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine/issue/114/articles/7.html

IBM Security. IBM 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study – Australia. https://www-03.ibm.com/security/au/en/data-breach/