The job of municipal employees is to keep their community running, which is not easy under normal circumstances, never mind in the midst of a pandemic.
While many private sector employees were required to work from home for much of the past year, municipal employees did not have that option. Technicians needed to replace water meters and transfer them. Road maintenance had to be done. Assets required maintenance. Storm cleanup was necessary. Work orders had to be completed.
After a summer of optimism that Covid-19 might be in our rear view mirror, new variant data indicates trend lines that are again concerning for this fall and winter. While it’s been a challenging journey, there is a silver lining. The pandemic has changed municipal operations for the better – forever. Here are 4 ways it has done that.
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Adoption of Cloud Technology
In the past, many municipal technology investments in software were installed on premise for a number of reasons, including security fears. Today, cloud technology is no more or less secure than on premise installations. The ability to solve problems and fulfill needs faster – coupled with limited budgetary and technology resources – has driven the successful adoption of cloud technologies across municipalities of all sizes.
New municipal team members have relied on technology to manage their personal lives since they were born. All they need to survive is their phone. These digital natives have influenced tenured municipal team members to shift from using forms, writing on pieces of paper and index cards, sending emails, and using radios to assigning work through a solution like Nrby. Now, paper workflow is digitized; eliminating mistakes, rework, and the need to go to headquarters in the morning to receive daily assignments and again in the evening to hand in paperwork.
In the past, a utility billing team member would need the field team members to come back to the office and hand in a form or a sheet of paper with notes after doing a meter transfer or replacement. Today, data is captured on a mobile device and transitioned in real-time, providing everyone on the team with real-time access to the status of tasks, projects, repairs, maintenance, installations and much more.
Many municipalities still need to go through files, boxes, and storage rooms to gain access to information and past data, but the number of municipalities doing things this way started to shrink during the pandemic. To comply with the requirements of future generations of community business owners and residents, it’s expected that municipalities can search and find information electronically and in real-time. When information is captured digitally it is available with a simple search that doesn’t require hours to accomplish. And, as senior employees retire, their knowledge is captured and documented, enabling these employees to leave the job and help transition new employees more efficiently.
While the pandemic has been a time of transition for many municipalities, the long-term benefits are significant, and will change how we leverage technology in the field and office for the better – forever.