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5 After Hours Reasons a Municipality Needs a 24/7 Helpdesk
When many smaller cities hear about the option of a 24/7 IT helpdesk contrasted with a 9-to-5 junior-level IT employee or IT support vendor (who, at best, may be “on call” after hours), they often think the all-hours helpdesk option is overkill. At city hall, administrators, managers, and employees typically work traditional hours and it can seem as if extra IT availability isn’t needed. A 24/7 helpdesk is just something for large cities, right?
However, we serve many small cities and you would be surprised at the calls we get after hours—sometimes in the dead of night. True, those calls are not coming from city hall when it’s closed. Yet, many city operations keep running when the traditional workday ends—and those operations need an IT helpdesk during those odd hours.
To see if your city may need a 24/7 helpdesk, here are five examples that may apply.
Obviously, council meetings typically take place outside of normal work hours. As elected officials, city managers, and city clerks know, many things can go wrong at a council meeting. Computers, laptops, and tablets don’t work properly. Printers and copiers malfunction. Audio-visual equipment fails when you need it. Even the prep for city council meetings can take place after hours and rely heavily on computers, printers, and access to data.
To ensure that city council meetings run smoothly, having a 24/7 helpdesk ready to assist is crucial. They can handle technical issues with computers and equipment during the meeting and while you’re focused on preparing for the meeting.
Another obvious example of the need for a 24/7 helpdesk is any city’s police department, no matter how small. When your police officers are patrolling their beats, they need working laptops when checking licenses, looking up information, and filing police reports. Back at the station, police officers are constantly accessing national and state criminal databases, storing body camera video footage, and relying on computers to do their daily work.
Many of our 24/7 helpdesk calls originate with police departments where IT issues can literally affect the public’s safety and affect the apprehension of criminals. Relying on an “on-call” employee or vendor just isn’t enough when a police department’s IT issues are timely and critical.
Your website is a 24/7 service to citizens and interested online visitors, working for you when city hall is closed. People can make payments, fill out business forms and applications, look up information about court times and proceedings, apply for a utility service, and contact the city about a variety of concerns. When your website doesn’t work, it affects city business and your reputation—even when your website goes down after hours.
If you have a 24/7 helpdesk monitoring your systems, including your website, then they will know if your website crashes and can immediately start working with the website hosting provider to get it back up. Or let you know when it’s going to be back up. In extreme cases, websites can get defaced by hackers. If it stays up a long time as a defaced website, then your city could suffer embarrassment and public scrutiny.
For cities that provide utility services, you need to be responsive to citizens that rely on you for critical services such as electricity, gas, and water/sewer. Citizens need to pay utility bills, apply for utility services, and submit emergency requests. Having a 24/7 helpdesk ready to help you with IT issues that interfere with making payments (and the collection of city revenue), serving citizens, and protecting the safety of customers is important. Otherwise, a server failure, database error, or crashed website can impact utility services to citizens.
While you would probably wish that water/sewer and other public works emergencies took place during normal business hours, the reality is that some of this work must take place at all hours. Severe weather, emergencies (such as a ruptured pipe), or disruptions to travel (such as blocked roads) means public works employees will be assigned jobs such as clearing roads of obstructions and fixing pipes.
What helps coordinate these assignments? Technology. Relying on project management software, mobile apps, computers, and servers is essential during such emergencies and incidents. Otherwise, public works employees may not get to the right place at the right time. Having an IT helpdesk to assist with any technical issues will prevent chaotic responses to emergency situations.
Do you need 24/7 IT support?
In today’s world, city government is not a 9-to-5 service. Council meetings, police departments, and public works departments operate outside of normal business hours. Utilities need to operate 24/7. Your city’s website works on your behalf 24/7. You need an IT helpdesk that matches these operational demands. Wouldn’t it help you a lot if you had a 24/7 number to call for any technology issue?
Curious about exploring the possibility of a 24/7 IT helpdesk for your city? Fill out the form below and we’ll reach out to schedule an initial call.
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