An InterDev Case Study
When the City of Sandy Springs formed in 2006, the decision to adopt a public-private partnership (PPP) for city services made the city a model for fledging municipalities nationwide. During the rebid of the City’s General Government Services contracts in 2011, City leadership realized that accepting bids on individual services, rather than taking an omnibus approach using a single vendor, could represent the best value to the City.
The resulting evaluations enabled City stakeholders to perform an integrated assessment of each firm’s abilities in relation to its bid to perform the requested services. In April 2011, based upon its depth of experience, comprehensive methodologies and value for services given, the City awarded the contract and resulting task order for Information Services (IT and GIS) to Atlanta-based managed IT services provider InterDev.
Supporting a Model City
Under the terms of the contract and task order, InterDev would select, configure and manage all IT hardware, software, enterprise resource planning and GIS systems for 350 city personnel, including proactive system monitoring, troubleshooting and support of all systems and processes, network security, network administration and Help Desk. InterDev would also provide high-level, multi-year IT planning services for the City to align technology strategies and projects with city goals and priorities.
As part of its response to the Request for Proposals (RFP), InterDev began evaluating the City’s IT infrastructure, reviewing equipment and software inventory, and developing recommendations for improvements. By the time InterDev received the contract and staff began working on the project full-time, they were prepared to ramp up key improvements quickly, with minimal impact to city personnel.
InterDev has helped the City redesign and reformulate its IT and communications processes and systems, from network and infrastructure monitoring and management to disaster recovery and public safety.
Initially the City’s line of business (LOB) applications and data were hosted off-site, served from a separate Active Directory sub-domain of the provider. “City management wanted centralized control of all the City’s IT assets,” says InterDev’s Director of Government Services Daniel Schultheiss. “They wanted their own infrastructure; their own software with licenses; their own data storage facilities.”
InterDev immediately tackled the migration of all user accounts, computers and LOB accounts from the hosted domain to a new domain it created for the City. “Having 100% ownership of their data gives the City the ability to manage data retention, perform historical review, do audits and validate proper security is in place,” says InterDev’s City of Sandy Springs IT Manager Johnny Johnson.
InterDev also migrated the City to a unified (storage and server) computing platform that supports the City’s virtualized operating environment. The hyper-efficient infrastructure solution also incorporates state-of-the-art security protocols and devices.
“The City could have taken the more traditional step of individual servers doing their individual jobs, but leadership saw the benefits in our recommendations,” says Johnson. “Normal hardware has a three-to-five-year lifespan, whereas this solution has a potential lifespan of seven to 10 years. This solution has resulted in less downtime and lower continued cost of ownership, plus a lighter footprint, less power usage, better resource management, and robust monitoring and replication capabilities.”
Facilitating Unimpeded Communications
InterDev subsequently completed a number of key information services projects for the City, ensuring accurate and timely communication of information ranging from GIS coordinates to traffic camera data. To facilitate continuity of communications and IT services in the event of a system failure or disaster, InterDev helped the City develop an advanced and highly cost-effective IT backup/recovery/ response solution.
For the solution, InterDev set up a redundant, failover server for data recovery and continuity at an off-site facility where the City was already participating in a collocated 911 command center. In the event of a disruption affecting City Hall systems, the server can start up as a temporary, primary server and data location nearly instantaneously, enabling extremely rapid and secure continuity of IT services and communications. “Everything in the City’s core infrastructure at City Hall replicates to its recovery site,” says Schultheiss.
Another information services project that InterDev completed successfully was the City’s new GIS mapping solution. The comprehensive ESRI GIS platform provides accurate, ondemand information for city departments and the public, and it enables cross-department coordination between the Public Works and Community Development departments. Through a customized GIS portal, community members have access to a web-based viewer that allows them to access parcel, flood map, zoning and other data.
In the area of public safety, InterDev implemented a highly secure communications and video-monitoring framework for use by public safety personnel. The solution included deployment of a real-time, centralized video monitoring system for citywide surveillance, automated license plate recognition, in-car and on-officer video and integrated traffic cameras.
“Being able to collect and manage video within a single system, whereas before the City had video going to separate DVRs, makes an enormous difference for criminal investigations,” says Schultheiss. “The old DVRs had varied recording lengths and independent clocks, and by getting them on the same system, the City can now coordinate a series of video clips from separate cameras that cover a single event.”
Integrating the standalone traffic management system was also a big win for the city, says Johnson. “Merging public safety and public works into a ‘single pane of glass’ view lets both business units take advantage of the assets, which maximizes ROI.”
Benefits for Everyone
Some of the projects are bringing financial benefits to residents, as well. For example, despite rapid growth and changes over the past two decades, the City was able to maintain its ISO (fire safety) rating, in part due to more accurate mapping developed by InterDev’s GIS staff. Continuation of the existing rating resulted in reduced insurance rates for both commercial and residential property owners.
“As a private partner, we bring the best practices we’ve developed for corporate clients and share them with the City. We also bring talent that an average city can’t afford on an occasional basis,” Johnson concludes. These approaches help the City deliver more–and more advanced –services to the citizens in a cost effective manner.”
About the City of Sandy Springs
Incorporated in 2005, Sandy Springs (pop. 93.583) is metro Atlanta area’s second largest city and the sixth largest city in the state of Georgia. For more information about the City of Sandy Springs, visit www.sandyspringsga.gov.
For more than 30 years, InterDev has provided professional Information Technology (IT) services and support for emerging organizations across the U.S. In addition to managing and hosting IT operations for its valued clients, InterDev also provides leading edge IT security solutions — based on technologies from Barracuda Networks, Enterasys and Palo Alto Networks — as well as telecommunications consulting including VoIP phone systems, and voice and data circuits. InterDev is a proud Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Barracuda Networks Certified Diamond Partner. InterDev serves customers from offices in Atlanta, Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida. For more information, visit www.InterDev.com.