Auburn, Georgia is named after the unique red clay found throughout much of Georgia that, among its many functions, was used to dye cloth auburn-red. Established in 1892, Auburn boasts almost 8,000 citizens who enjoy the city’s green spaces, festivals, events, farmers’ markets, and parks. A family-friendly city located almost equidistant from Atlanta and Athens, Auburn also offers businesses a vital downtown district where they can set up shop.
As Auburn continues to grow in population and business, city employees can understandably feel a strain on services. With growth, the police department, public works, parks and recreation, city hall, and municipal court all see more activity as website communications and technology-driven services (such as online payments) become more expected by citizens. To run operations smoothly, the City of Auburn needs seamless IT infrastructure that supports its mission of serving citizens and businesses.
Auburn Police Chief Christopher Hodge says, “Prior to contracting with VC3, our department struggled getting IT issues resolved. The prior company would rarely handle problems remotely, and getting a technician on site took several days. When asked to consult on new hardware purchases, we were directed to subpar equipment that had to be replaced not long after being procured. Lastly, services in comparison with the money we paid was disproportional. For a small city, sometimes quality is sacrificed for the low bid. We got what we paid for.”
Digging deeper into the city’s issues before they implemented IT in a Box, Auburn faced the following challenges:
- The IT vendor did not offer timely and effective responses to IT issues: Timeliness of response is a common problem for municipalities that rely on cheap IT support. The IT vendor took too much time to resolve issues and did not leverage remote IT helpdesk processes and platforms to solve easy issues quickly.
- The IT vendor saddled the city with unexpected charges: Municipalities like predictable budgets. Yet, many IT vendors use a “bait and switch” method of offering an initial low price and then making their money from unexpected hourly charges once they win the deal.
- Inefficient IT infrastructure led to lost productivity and wasted assets: The city used a terminal server located in City Hall. Nearly all city computers connected to the terminal server. While a valid technology for certain situations, this expensive terminal server solution did not fit the city’s needs. Too many computers logging onto the terminal server brought computers to a slow crawl, a server reset for a simple issue turned off every single computer until the reboot completed, the city could not make administrative changes by themselves (such as adding applications or changing settings), and an employee’s computer was useless unless connected to the terminal server. Other city servers sat unused or had functions that city staff could not identify. The IT vendor communicated no overall plan or strategy for the city’s technology.
- Continual printer issues haunted the city: Because of the terminal server setup, something as simple as printing became a nightmare. This everyday task became unreliable.
- No vendor management, and the IT vendor was not looking out for the city’s best interests: The city was getting overcharged for software and applications without the vendor offering or researching any options of government pricing and discounts.
- Getting a new website took way too long: The city worked to get a new website completed but the process had taken many, many months—and it still wasn’t finished!
- Police department had insufficient video archiving solution: After struggling with technological limitations related to in-car cameras for many years, the City of Auburn moved to body cameras. However, the city’s body camera video technology introduced new problems such as where to store all that data and the expense related to that storage. The Auburn police department had no organized way of storing, tagging, and redacting videos. Lacking vendor management from their IT vendor, the police department struggled to find a solution to solve these problems.
- Issues with financial software solution: The city was using unsupported, aging financial software created by a company that had gone out of business.
IT in a Box offered the City of Auburn a team of municipal-experienced technology professionals who were ready to respond to issues and improve the city’s IT infrastructure. Once implemented, IT in a Box’s comprehensive, multi-faceted solution included:
- 24×7 helpdesk: Dedicated 24x7x365 helpdesk support staff now provide Auburn timely, responsive IT support both remotely and onsite, depending on the issue. Routine issues are solved remotely within minutes or hours, rather than days.
- Server, desktop, and mobile management: Enterprise-class antivirus software, antimalware software, and monitoring software proactively identifies threats. VC3 also implemented cybersecurity best practices to improve security and helped the city secure its IT infrastructure.
- Vendor management: VC3 now handles any needed technical calls with hardware and software vendors, resolving issues that used to take up valuable city staff time. They also helped the city procure new servers and computers while decommissioning old or unused ones. IT in Box also includes help researching solutions such as financial software.
- Onsite and offsite data backup and disaster recovery: Onsite and offsite data backups help ensure both quick recovery after small incidents (like a server failure) or a larger incident (such as a tornado). Quarterly testing ensures the city’s data is safe and recoverable.
- New city website: Auburn received a modern fresh custom-designed website with VC3 hosting the website and managing the content. Plus, city staff can now edit and update website content themselves.
- Video archiving: With IT in a Box’s fixed monthly cost, Auburn no longer needs to buy additional expensive storage for video. As the city’s squad car and body camera video recordings continue to grow at a rapid pace, Auburn’s storage costs do not change.
Chief Hodge says, “Since contracting with VC3, our existing issues became nonexistent. IT issues are handled with expediency and the equipment recommended by VC3 is of high quality. When there is a need for onsite service, VC3 is responsive to our requests and usually sends someone out within 24-48 hours depending on the severity of the problem. VC3 technicians are genial, professional, and very patient with those who lack even the most basic IT knowledge.”
VC3 helped Auburn experience the following results:
- Timely, responsive helpdesk support increases productivity: With IT issues resolved quickly and correctly, city employees aren’t working around the obstacles of computer and printing issues—meaning they can work productively without annoying delays and interruptions.
- Fixed cost, and no surprises: IT in a Box is a fixed cost solution, meaning no budgetary surprises. This eliminates the problem of too many onsite visits from an IT vendor increasing the city’s costs.
- More control over IT assets: The city now has more control over its servers, workstations, and hardware. In coordination with VC3, the city can now change settings, add and remove applications, and make decisions about its infrastructure. The city now has a uniform network infrastructure, independent workstations, and no more thin clients. VC3 also helps the city keep software upgraded and licenses updated.
- Improved hardware and equipment with government pricing: VC3 helped the city purchase new, modern servers and computers, as needed, that modernized and improved the performance of Auburn’s IT. VC3 also worked to purchase hardware, software, and other IT assets with government pricing—looking out after the best financial interests of the city.
- Assistance finding software solutions: In consultation with VC3, the city was able to acquire a new financial software solution with similar functionality as the old system. VC3 also ensured that city employees got proper training on the new financial software. When the city needed assistance evaluating software storage solutions for its squad car and body camera video, VC3 evaluated products, made recommendations, and helped the city with implementation.
- Modern website with IT in a Box support: The new Auburn website made the city very happy, and they worked closely with VC3 on what they wanted. Today, visitors can easily pay their water bills online, pay traffic tickets online, report a concern, check City Council agendas and minutes, and look up a variety of important information. As the city’s “face” online, the website makes Auburn look amazing to citizens, businesses, and prospective residents.
In addition, VC3 also includes cybersecurity training as a part of IT in a Box, which is important as municipalities are under relentless attack from many different cybercriminals and threat actors from around the globe. Chief Hodge says, “This training was done professionally and the presenter did a phenomenal job. In addition, the material was very well-received and I believe has increased our knowledge base on IT best practices and how to recognize various scams that could be hazardous to our infrastructure. We hope to make this presentation a part of our annual in-service training regimen.”
“When it comes to establishing an effective IT infrastructure, consulting experienced professionals is the first and most important step. It is one we are glad to have taken with VC3 as they placed us in a position to better service our staff and the residents of our city.” – Police Chief Christopher Hodge, City of Auburn, Georgia
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VC3 is a leading managed services provider with a focus on municipal government and mid-market businesses. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, VC3 forms partnerships with organizations to achieve their technology goals and harness their data. In addition to providing comprehensive managed IT solutions, VC3 offers cybersecurity, cloud services, website design, custom application development, and business intelligence services. Visit www.vc3.com to learn more.
Among the features VC3 delivers in “IT in a Box” are cybersecurity and computer maintenance, 24×7 U.S.-based helpdesk for remote and onsite support, data backup with unlimited offsite data backup storage for disaster recovery, records and document management, email, body camera and squad car camera video archiving with unlimited offsite video storage following record retention policies, information security policy and compliance, a custom designed website that is ADA-compliant and mobile-ready, and vendor management and procurement. Read more about IT in a Box.
Original Date: 7/8/2020