Papillion, Nebraska, is on a quest to become the best, most liveable small community in America. And, if national-level recognition is any indication, Papillion is succeeding. BusinessWeek ranked this Omaha suburb of just over 16,000 as one of the top ten "Best Affordable Suburbs in America 2010." Over the past five years, Papillion has also been climbing CNN Money.com's "Best Places To Live" list, entering the running at #23 in 2005, and climbing steadily to #3 in 2009. Papillion’s leaders knew that harnessing technology would be critical to improving services, elevating quality of life while reducing crime rates and municipal cost structures. In the end, the City turned to Microsoft and Digital Management Inc., a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to develop a 'technology roadmap' intended to rapidly deploy solutions that would produce immediate results for Papillion's leaders, first responders, and citizens. Situation
Since 2008, Papillion's city government has focused on bringing the best technology to city operations. The initiative started under the former mayor, and has continued under the watch of current mayor, David Black.
"Our goal is to reach #1 on the CNN Money.com 'Best' list," says Dan Hoins, Papillion's City Administrator. "We are always looking for ways to improve Papillion's city services and promote our small-town feel."
That drive for excellence is partly the result of a city government receptive to transformative ideas. "We look for ways to say 'yes' and not 'no' to new ideas," says Hoins.
City leaders were not sure how to begin when they launched this quest, so they used the Internet to network with tech industry leaders. The networking ultimately led to an email sent to Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. To the surprise of Mayor’s office, Ballmer replied and provided Papillion with an introduction to Digital Management, Inc., a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner that works with government agencies. Within a few weeks, Digital Management conducted an end-to-end review of Papillion's business needs and technology capabilities.
Papillion and Digital Management forged a 'technology roadmap' intended to score quick wins for Papillion's leaders, first responders, and citizens. Sam Ganga, Executive Vice President of Digital Management, who led the Papillion review, describes the initial phase of Papillion's technology improvement plan. "The city really wanted to establish a powerful technology platform that would create sustainable value by improving collaboration across departments and launching a rich online experience for its citizens..
“After close consultation with Papillion officials, the city moved forward with an ambitious four-part program to deploy: a Unified Communications installation; a city wide WAN for police cruisers; a live video surveillance feed and video-on-demand capability; and the first components of a city government intranet."
Throughout the process, Papillion had its eye on the balance sheet. All city departments are under pressure to do more with less. Consequently, one of the primary metrics of success was to meet the requirement for creating more efficient and cost-effective public services.Solution
The combination of real-time video surveillance and wireless broadband access for police across the city has addressed this need by allowing fewer police officers to cover more territory. "Each cruiser can get real-time video from any of several dozen cameras covering Papillion landmarks, parks, and schools," says Hoins. "This gives our small police department excellent resources to respond to a wide variety of situations, from small-time vandalism up to full-blown school-lockdown situations."
Unified communications solutions from Microsoft have had a similar streamlining impact on Papillion government operations -- making city services more responsive to citizen concerns. Take snow removal, for example.
"There you have a lose-lose situation for city officials, city employees, and citizens alike," observes Hoins. "You can never get the streets plowed fast enough. And one street is always going to be the last to get plowed.
"But during the winter of 2009, Papillion citizens were pleasantly surprised when their calls, emails, and on-line complaints to city hall about snow removal were acknowledged by a phone call from me, or our services personnel, often within a few minutes…even on Sunday afternoons."
The unified communications installation – which replaced a legacy PBX phone system with Office Communicator and VOIP – routed voice and text communications directly to city officials and employees. In some cases, citizens found themselves in direct contact with plow truck drivers who could respond on the spot.Benefits
While improvements in communications and connectivity have already paid dividends on the front lines of highly visible city services, such as police and public works, Papillion's new intranet is only just beginning to make a positive impact on city government operations. The heart of the Papillion intranet is a Microsoft SharePoint Server-based solution that will eventually automate nearly every city business process. "For the first time," says Hoins, "the twelve departments of Papillion city government are on a common platform, and able to share data with each other."
Hoins, a lifelong veteran of police and local government, is quick to point out his own bafflement over technology. Indeed, one challenge the Papillion's technology initiative faced was push-back from city managers skeptical of technology. Two years into the project, much of that resistance has melted away. Two factors brought city managers around: the ease of the Microsoft SharePoint Server interface, and the realization that the technology actually made city government work better.
"When the team from Digital Management and Microsoft started talking about 'silos,' we were talking the same language," says Hoins. "Departments in city governments really do tend to stay in their own silos. But Microsoft SharePoint Server and the other technologies that have been deployed are like a network of pipes that connect the silos of Papillion's 12 departments. It has let us all do our jobs better."
For example, Papillion city services managers use Microsoft Bing maps to visualize where service problems are actually occurring. What's more, police, fire, and services can view such geographic data to see patterns that would be difficult or impossible to discern otherwise.
"We've used the Bing mapping tool to help make decisions on focusing not just police presence but also other services, like on a stretch of road that gets a lot of speeding complaints," says Hoins. "Police and the street department can work together to take immediate action to fix a problem area like that."
Microsoft SharePoint Server has given the Papillion City Clerk the opportunity to re-engineer many city business processes. Among the most noticeable changes in how Papillion does business is visible in dramatic changes in the city council's agenda process. In the past, the City Clerk's staff assembled a 200-300 page agenda document every two weeks or so, coordinating contributions from all twelve of the city’s departments, as well from the public and state and federal agencies.
"Now we've gone completely paperless," explains Hoins. Gone are the crushing bi-weekly deadlines—and the reams of paper used to produce the large agenda documents.
"We're also giving the citizens more transparency," he continues. "Council business is accessible to everyone through our web site."
Indeed, the next phases of Papillion's technology initiative will focus on refining the city's public-facing technology presence. Early efforts to improve financial management and revenue collection via the new technology have proven promising, with the parks and other fee-based city services reporting increased revenue. The city eventually plans to have its Microsoft SharePoint Server-based internet portals serve as the focus of citizen-government interaction.For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com
For more information about Digital Management products and services, call 240-223-4800 or visit the Web site at: www.digitalmanagement.com
For more information about City of Papillion products and services, call 402-597-2000 or visit the Web site at: www.papillion.orgThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.