– Nervous System of a City Government

Nervous System of Government?  Click for more ...

Nervous System of Government? Click for more ...

Original post:  28 May 2008
I often say information technology in any organization is like the human nervous system.
You never think about your nervous system, do you? Gee, how many times have your breathed in the since you started to read this blog entry? Have you made sure that your heart is beating lately? Oh – and that mouse under your left (or right) hand – the one you’ve been using your index finger to click a button and surf to this page (or maybe, at this point, away from it!). Has that index finger responded to your brain? All of this occurs for each of us, of course, thousands and tens of thousands of times a day.
Until it doesn’t … maybe your heart skips a beat. Or perhaps you get a cold and breathing isn’t so easy for a few days. You never notice your nervous system until that really small of amount of time (for most of us) that it DOESN’T WORK!
Information technology is the same – in many senses it is the lifeblood of City government. What is government, except taking care of people – doing for the people of Seattle what they cannot do on their own, easily, as individuals or even in small groups: clean parks, clean water through the tap (and the unclean water down the drain). In the case of Seattle, electricity at the flick of a switch. A cop when you need one and a firefighter or EMT sometimes too.
How do you get all this service? Typically you call on the phone – 911 or 311 or 206-684-3000 (for a cheap thrill, give that one a try). Often, nowadays, you surf the web or send an e-mail. And all of this requires phone systems and computer servers and software.
And how do City employees coordinate their responses to your requests? Well, they use radio systems to dispatch police calls or fires or public utility crews. We use an internal phone system to call each other. We use desktop computers and utility billing systems and work management systems. And e-mail is ubiquitous to the tune of a million messages a week.  Oh … and Peoplesoft Financial Management system to track the cost and a payroll system to keep us paid.
And no one notices, until something doesn’t work.
As my telephone services operations manager – Stephanie Venrick – says, “dial-tone comes from God”.
Naw, it actually comes from the City of Seattle’s Department of Information Technology.
And that dial tone is there, 99.99% of the time.

1 Comment

Filed under customer service, people, Seattle DoIT

One response to “– Nervous System of a City Government

  1. Declan Ryan

    Hi ,
    I recenly read where the City of Seattle purchased vehicle mounted cameras for Licence plate photography in your parking department.
    Could you please direct me to the Freedom of information act where I could review the purchase of the cameras and the technology. Your assistance is appreciated.

    Declan Ryan

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