Lima, Ohio, Seeks to Normalize City Data Systems

City departments are not able to share information effectively, given that between 11 departments, more than 50 separate applications were in use across multiple platforms.

by Craig Kelly, The Lima News, Ohio / May 26, 2016

(TNS) -- As modern societies become more data-driven, the need to process and access information quickly and efficiently becomes even greater for both the private and public sector. With that in mind, the City of Lima has begun to examine its own approach to data sharing and storage.

Barry Melvin of Utility Metering Services addressed Lima’s Council of the Whole Committee on Tuesday, offering observations on the issues facing the city in interdepartmental data sharing.

“The biggest thing is about the efficiency and effectiveness in providing information to the citizens of Lima,” he said. “Something that’s happening across the country is what’s called a Smart City Initiative, and those initiatives are about providing access and creating an open government concept so that citizens can make better decisions and access information more easily.”

In an initial examination of the city’s information technology network, he found that many departments were not able to share information effectively, given that between 11 departments, more than 50 separate applications were in use across multiple platforms, such as Microsoft Windows or Linux. This created hurdles to having centralized data storage and access.

“Each department goes at its own pace technologically,” Melvin said, “so they become not integrated or networked. It’s not about anyone doing anything wrong. It’s just how systems mature.”

The initial estimated cost of normalizing the city’s data systems is $3 million over three to five years, with possible additional costs with software purchases. While the city plans to further explore this issue, keeping it in committee, Melvin emphasized the cost-saving benefits this will bring for both the city and the public.

“Part of it is gaining a more accurate and efficient billing process for citizens so they can get more timely bills, more accurate bills, more responsive customer service and more efficient operations,” he said. “What manual processes can be reduced or gotten rid of and what things can be made more efficient going forward?”

©2016 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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