City Council unanimously passed a motion on Monday night to accept a report regarding IT improvements for the city as information.
The recommendations to deliver the strategy are estimated to cost approximately $4.7 million in capital expenditures and annual operating costs of $550,000 over the next five years.
John Naas of Blackline Consulting presented before council a plan to improve the city’s IT in the upcoming years.
“Technology is not going away – it’s pervasive,” Naas said in his presentation to Council.
Naas said internal interviews and surveys were conducted with city staff, in group and one-on-one settings.
He said Sault Ste. Marie recognizes the need for technology and a need to change, and the need to use technology for operation and to build the economy, as social expectations are changing and increasing, not only here but across the province. He noted that technology can also help enable and address social issues the city is facing.
Three key objectives came from those sessions:
- The current state of technology and IT the city uses
- The future state of this; and
- An implementation plan to achieve this
In his presentation, Naas identified nine initiatives as fundamental to modernizing the City’s IT and technology frame that would be building blocks for a smart city.
These initiatives are as follows:
- Enhance the City’s network resilience and capability – to be completed in 2019-2020
- Modernize the City’s IT and technology assets – to be completed from 2019-2021
- Enable a mobile workforce – to be completed in 2019
- Establish processes for change and project management to support the City – to be completed in 2019
- Create disaster recovery capabilities – to be completed from 2020-2022
- Define the City’s target architecture – to be completed in 2019 and 2020
- Implement a city-wide data warehouse and analytic solution – to be completed from 2020-2022
- Restructure the approach to IT management – to be completed from 2019-2021
- Establish guidelines for data management and governance – to be completed in 2020
All completion dates are part of a preliminary implementation plan.
Some challenges Naas addressed where the under-investment in IT – in the past seven years, there has only been a 1.8% increase, which creates a deficit in terms of technology spending and resources. He stressed that a network is the backbone of IT, making sure information can be transitioned across networks. Another issue he addressed is the backlog of initiatives – there are currently 30-something initiatives, which creates more work than staff to do the work. IT staff are also not just focused on IT, they have day-to-day jobs, which adds to the backlog.
Naas said the city has issues prioritizing and addressing this, and need the right tools and technology to progress and prosper, as well as a vision for IT that is able to support it.
This proposed plan will revamp the IT Services Department within its present structure.
Blackline recommended the city hire six full-time employees as well as train existing employees.
The company also identified the need for a Chief Technology Officer to provide strategic oversight and vision to the department, and recommends that the IT Department be elevated in the organization to enhance its key corporate role in name as well as practice.
After some questions from Councillors Hollingsworth, Christian, Dufour, Scott, Shoemaker and Bruni in regards of clarification of numbers, council passed the motion unanimously.
Staff has given consideration to both these scenarios and will bring forward recommendations for Council’s consideration during the 2019 Budget deliberations.