4 Guidelines for Governments to Ease the Cost and IT Burden of Housing Data (Industry Perspective)

Data demands are pushing IT limits in cities, so what can these local governments do to support this deluge of data?

by Jonathan Martin / February 3, 2016

Connected, always on and fully transparent — consumer tech trends are hitting state and local governments hard. Many are moving straight from paper files and other analog solutions to complex technologies and the systems required to support them. 

Take President Obama’s request for $75 million over three years to make police body cameras a fundamental part of day-to-day law enforcement. The initiative would help state and local governments purchase roughly 50,000 body cameras, supplying them to some of the 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now in service.

We’ve seen evidence of the power this could have, but the investment begs crucial questions — how will each local police force house, process and analyze this unstructured data, when each small force could create terabytes of video per year? These issues only compound when you consider the amount of data generated by smart cities; the volume a single city government can produce is overwhelming. 

The impending data crunch is exacerbated within state and local governments with limited funding, which forces them to focus on building a reactive IT infrastructure. This digital transformation requires significant changes to the way content is both processed and stored, huge hurdles governments must clear. So what can these local governments do to support this deluge of data? 

When it comes to building a simple, scalable and cost-efficient IT infrastructure, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Local and state governments should consider these guidelines to ease the cost and IT burden of housing the data, all of which will only increase with time: 

1. Look beyond an IT purchase's initial cost

The average refresh cycle for a government purchase is about six to eight years, as opposed to only three to five years for private enterprises. The lengthy procurement process means that state and local government organizations must look beyond the initial cost of an IT purchase, and instead assess how the solution will age. Instead of focusing on finding a system that is just right for what they need now, government organizations need to consider where they see their infrastructure in the next six years. 

2. Consider challenges associated with older systems

The single greatest cost in the government space for IT purchases is finding the people to run it. Salary and benefits aside, the cost of finding, training and maintaining a skilled employee can be downright difficult when the private sector is competing for tech talent. Deploying equipment that is difficult or burdensome to use may harm recruitment efforts. Because the typical upgrade cycle for new IT infrastructure can take up to twice as long, it’s important to consider the challenges associated with older systems, such as legacy storage. Does the system require constant, 24/7 monitoring? Does it require afterhours patching and maintenance? Saving some extra money now by purchasing a system that just meets your needs will create huge burdens on your team. If they feel like they’re stuck dealing with an antique and not learning anything, they may reconsider a job that offers more engagement.

3. Find a partner with experience across the data center

Because of the huge scope of IT upgrades, and the fact that anything you put in your data center touches almost everything else, it’s important to find a partner with experience across the data center. A solutions provider that understands how the pieces will fit together and can help you map out a plan for the future is crucial.  

4. Partner with a company that has a track record for providing great customer service

While consumers do get frustrated with a delay in booking a hotel or making a purchase online, delays for government organizations are non-negotiable as they have an impact on critical services and response times that are often a matter of public safety. That’s why it’s key to partner with a company that has a track record for providing great customer service, ensuring they can quickly resolve issues when they arise. 

With the rapid adoption of new technologies promising to make our cities safer, smarter and more efficient, it’s clear that we can expect a lot of things to change in the next decade for both public and private companies. That being said, there is more pressure on government IT organizations than ever before to deliver services in scope and performance, with significantly reduced funds and resources. By finding the right technology partner, government IT organizations can ensure they won’t have to face these challenges alone, and will be better equipped to deal with the onslaught of data that has already arrived. 

Jonathan Martin is the chief marketing officer of Pure Storage, a provider of all-flash storage solutions.

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