The City of Columbia is going Google
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Editors note:Earlier this week we announced the City of St.Louis is going Google. Today we welcome another guest blogger from Missouri, Mike Matthes, to tell us how he recently moved Columbia to Google Apps for Government.
I grew up in Chillicothe, Missouri. Until last year, I worked for the City of Des Moines in Iowa for 15 years. When I got the opportunity to move back to my home state and became the City Manager of Columbia, Missouri, I jumped at the chance. Columbia is a boomtown with outstanding quality of life that emphasizes the value of public services for the citizens. I find great joy in serving the public, partnering with our city employees, and supporting them as they work with the community.
After I moved to Columbia, I realized the city was challenged by an antiquated email system that couldn’t keep up with the latest technology trends and our employees’ needs. When my iPad acted as nothing more than a paperweight, I knew we needed a change.
Columbia is fortunate to have an open-minded City Council and IT Department, so we started looking for a new email solution last fall. When I worked for Des Moines, I became familiar with Google Apps for Government. We chose the Google email and communication platform for 2,000 Des Moines employees because it could help the city save budget while enabling our employees to be more productive. When I looked at Google Apps again, I was struck by the tremendous product enhancements made in just a year since I last reviewed its offering.
We quickly decided to move all 1,188 Columbia employees to Google Apps for Government after evaluating available email and communication solutions. With the help of Google Apps reseller Onix Networking, all city employees were flawlessly transitioned to Google Apps in April 2012.
The only comments I received were gratitude from our employees for finally being able to communicate and collaborate smoothly. Email and calendar just work, and other advanced collaboration features in Google Apps bring much more efficiency to our workplace. Eighty percent of our employees are mobile, such as police, fire and public works staff. They have been starving for mobile productivity for years. Now they can easily check email, documents, and sites from the field.
Although most reasonable people dread an annual budget process, I’m actually looking forward to it this year because all 18 of our departments will be using a Google Site to collaborate and share information easily while preparing for the budget. This site also integrates a Google calendar that marks budget due dates with a countdown clock for all departments.
For Columbia, going Google is a force multiplier. With resources saved and productivity enhanced, our city employees are able to better focus on their core mission of serving citizens. Being a part of modernization efforts of both Columbia and Des Moines makes my job as a public servant meaningful.