ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new way to help local governments improve services for their constituents and to reduce costs. The IBM Municipal Shared Services Cloud lets local governments appropriately share information internally and across governments nationwide.
With a unique combination of advanced data analytics and Software-as-a-Service technology, the IBM Municipal Shared Services Cloud integrates services from multiple providers on an easy-to-use platform that governments nationwide can share. The new cloud platform will improve municipal operations, add Web-based citizen services, allow integrated data analysis, and provide better transparency. Government employees will save time, increase productivity, and help citizens quickly get the information they need.
Governments at every level have technology challenges: obsolete systems and software, poorly integrated applications, minimal Web-based constituent access, and limited data analysis. Applications tend to be costly to deploy and maintain, making it hard to integrate new services. The IBM Municipal Shared Services Cloud provides transparent and efficient interaction among governments, citizens, and business enterprises.
IBM is working with the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) and the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to help their member municipalities operate more effectively. NYCOM and MML will coordinate the participation of their members in the pilot, and both see the IBM platform as an effective way to provide constituency services.
NYCOM is an association of, and for, cities and villages in New York. From training programs to legislative advocacy to inquiry handling, it assists city and village officials in providing essential services in a cost effective manner. MML provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials. It assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.
The IBM Municipal Shared Services Cloud will offer independent software vendors a low-cost, scalable, secure platform over which the can provide services for local governments. Municipal officials will the select the software products that best provide the services they need. This cloud technology will ultimately include a citizen portal, a Web-based way for citizens to understand their relationship with their government, enhancing transparency and trust in government.
"Now, more than ever, cities and villages throughout New York are faced with daunting fiscal challenges," said Peter A. Baynes, executive director, NYCOM. "Meanwhile, the essential services provided by municipalities and relied upon by residents and businesses must continue. The IBM Municipal Shared Services Cloud has the unique capacity to reduce government technology costs, enable seamless integration of disparate software, and exponentially improve the ability of municipal departments to work together efficiently."
The IBM platform supports loose coupling of applications. Applications will work independently, but when delivered together, they will be automatically integrated by the platform. Multiple applications will link seamlessly supporting data sharing and event handling. This loose coupling will significantly improve government productivity and service quality, and will reduce error-prone manual work.
The property tax process is a good example. Tax processing spans multiple departments, including building, assessment, tax, and finance. Each department typically maintains its own applications, and information sharing is frequently manual. With the IBM platform, information will flow between the applications, and much of the manual work will be eliminated.
"This is a time when local governments are feeling more intense fiscal pressures than ever," said Anthony Minghine, associate executive director and COO, Michigan Municipal League. "As a result, we're constantly searching for new ways to help our member municipalities work smarter and more efficiently. IBM's new cloud technology can redefine how communities cooperate and collaborate together. The cloud creates efficiencies, reduces costs and allows communities to work together without regard to their geographic boundary."
The IBM platform can benefit other municipal function including public safety. Integrating police, fire and court applications will provide faster and more accurate access to appropriate information. Linking with clerk and assessor applications will give emergency responders pertinent details about home schematics, registered weapons, and pets.
"On the national level, there has been a lot of discussion about consolidating local governments. This technology will enable governments to share services as if consolidated, to foster efficiencies and more effective services," said Robert W. Elliott, former Mayor of Croton-on-Hudson, New York and former Deputy Secretary of state of New York. "Only IBM's innovative Municipal Shared Services Cloud can build municipal capacity and the efficiencies required to face the inevitable challenges of the future."
The IBM Municipal Shared Services Cloud will improve government operations in three ways.
1. Integration - clients will access software as a service on the cloud, rather than paying for hardware, software and solution development. They will select what they need and subscribe as necessary. The cloud will support the infrastructure, manage operations and handle upgrades.
2. Collaboration - Municipalities don't compete, so unlike commercial businesses, they are comfortable collaborating. The multi-tenancy capability of IBM's platform supports safe sharing between governments providing essentially standard services with variations accommodating local needs.
3. Transparency - The platform will offer dashboards for government officials and citizens making operations more transparent and encouraging open, effective government. The platform's advanced analytics will provide insights for both officials and citizens.
"Today, municipalities need to integrate their operations to save money and improve the quality of services they provide to their constituents. IBM's new Municipal Shared Services Cloud uses unprecedented collaboration and information sharing to accomplish this goal," said Robert Morris, vice president, IBM Research.
The IBM Municipal Shared Services Cloud will be available through IBM Global Technology Services. This asset is the latest in a long line of technologies developed as part of the IBM First of a Kind program, where IBM Researchers and industry experts collaborate with clients to apply technology to solving business problems.
For more information, please visit www.ibm.com/cloud