Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fort Thomas City Government takes full advantage of technology


By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Reporter

Technology has helped many governments get things done quicker and more efficiently in recent years.

The City of Fort Thomas has taken full advantage of many of them. The city government uses Time Warner as its Internet provider. The speeds are 50 megabits per second (Mbps) downloaded from the internet to the computers and 5 Mbps uploaded from the computers to the Internet. The City also uses Microsoft Windows as its operating system.

“Highlights include allowing our Police and Fire departments to communicate with peers and constituents in an immediate and as-needed basis,” said Don Martin, City Administrative Officer. “That has allowed our purchasing department to research to find the best items at the best prices and allowed our City to announce city-wide events and emergencies.”

Fort Thomas has also taken advantage of a popular e-mail system known as Microsoft Outlook. The latest version of it is 2010. That lets people organize e-mails into specific folders. For instance, a mayor could organize e-mails from the fire chief into one folder and e-mails from the chief of police into another one.

“It provides a full-featured interface, powerful searching, in-house and offsite access, and long-term retention,” Martin said.

The City uses these and other technologies to perform huge duties. One is keeping track of tax payments from residents.

“We use Property Systems, which was custom written for our needs,” Martin said of keeping track of tax payments. “In recent years, we have introduced OCR payment receipt which allows quicker access to funds, eliminates input errors and greatly reduces manual input time requirements.”

Martin and the City know about the risks of using the Internet. One is the Internet can go out. Martin said the City does not have a backup plan if that happens.

“However, the Police and Fire departments have radio redundancy,” Martin said. “The Internet backup options for our level of required bandwidth are too costly, especially when the high level of Internet reliability is considered (less than five hours of known downtime over the last five years).”

There are also security risks involved. Hackers often work around the clock to get into private systems.
 
“We have proven systems in place,” Martin said. “But revealing the specifics could reduce efficacy.”

3 comments:

  1. I find this story to be embarrassing for the City. This is nothing new. In fact 98% of cities and businesses have been doing this for years. There is absolutely nothing cutting edge about this. There are cutting edge things going on up there. I know some of the cops and they have a guy up there that has really put cutting edge technology to work for them. You should look harder for your stories.

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  2. So in other words, you are a fort Thomas police officer posting anonymously. Likely having some knowledge of technology within the city and the police officer department.

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  3. Nipping this one in the bud, again. FTM is not going to be an Internet wasteland of anonymous commenters. Own up to your comments and put your name to it or it will not be published going forward. Simple as that.

    To the original commentor: please realize that we are real people, with real lives, trying to do the best job that we can. Assuming that you live in Fort Thomas, we are your neighbors. I sometimes think that people get so caught up in their beliefs or their day-to-day actions that they do not realize that.

    I wish we all could sit down and have a beer together, because then I know some of the hatefulness that we get from a very small percentage would go away.

    Move the conversation forward without being distasteful. I know that's not commonplace for the Internet, but that's what we are going to do here.

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