Notes | Municipal Shared Services Cloud

Posted on Sep 21, 2021

First up in the papers I need to read through today is Municipal Shared Services Cloud. It’s a decade old so I don’t know if it’ll have anything useful but it’s a quick read and the title seems relevant.

DOI: 10.1109/SRII.2011.39 - Source: IEEE Xplore

Summary

A case study of 12 NY state municipalities and their needs related to service delivery and how a Municipal Shared Services Cloud could lower costs, deliver services more efficiently, and provide better information sharing capabilities.

The paper goes on to pitch an IBM IaaS/Saas Platform from governments. It seems standard for anyone aware of the IaaS. They propose an open data model so that third parties can provide external services that the government otherwise would not. Specifically, they call upon developers to harness the profit motive and make services that are not in the budget.

Quotes

“We discovered that most of the IT applications used to support service delivery for the municipalities we studied aligned directly to the departmental strcuture, with application(s) covering only the tasks associated with a single department” (2).

This is good to know but seems to be a restatement of Conway’s Law

“In many cases, the departments all use distinct, non-integrated, custom software programs to aid in their work. ” (3).

This goes onto explain that across the 8 departments there are 10 different IT systems. Which does seem egregious. Has this gotten better in the intervening decade?

Costs of municipal integrations could be prohibitive leaving municipalities to forgo any advantages of integration. “the cost ranged from $8000 to $25,000 per application pair” (4).

Analysis

The authors presented useful information with regards to how bad data sharing was at the beginning of the last decade and their solution is for public infrastructure to be contracted out to a private company, for a fee. This is not uncommon and follows a common logic that institutions will save money by outsourcing their physical IT infrastructure. Not only will they save money but that their systems will be better for it.

The systems may be better for it but it will still cost money in terms of developers and what I think I need is some data on switching costs and maybe some longitudinal information from institutions that made the switch early.

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