Category Archives: Small Cities

Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

The latest trend in government is all about transparency—and the embrace of innovative technology by government is making it easier than ever to provide transparency simply, efficiently, and accurately.

It can, however, leave your agency exposed to the public, and they may have questions when looking at your budget and books. In this scenario, a good audit trail is essential because it can save your agency time, preserve its reputation, and minimize errors.

The concept is simple: changes to accounting records should be documented and saved for future reference. Software, such as the governmental accounting software offered by BMS, makes this process straightforward.  Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities | Comments Off on Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

Don’t Get Duped When Upgrading Your Utility Infrastructure

American City & County magazine recently published an article detailing the misadventures of Jackson, Mississippi’s attempt to upgrade their water meter and billing systems after signing a contract with Siemens, Inc. The contract (signed in December of 2012) was supposed to generate 120 million dollars in guaranteed savings. However, incorrectly installed water meters and syncing issues with the city’s wireless networks led to residential customers being heavily overcharged while some industrial customers never even received a bill. The city’s attempts to rectify these problems led to increased operating costs and no savings, despite Siemen’s guarantee.

Unsurprisingly, the City of Jackson sued Siemens and local subcontractors over the debacle. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, Latest News, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Don’t Get Duped When Upgrading Your Utility Infrastructure

Big Data for Small Cities

US House Passes Moving Forward Act in a Bid to Improve Local Broadband Infrastructure

As a part of their Rebuild With Us campaign, the National League of Cities (NLC) announced that the US House of Representatives recently passed the Moving Forward Act, a bill designed to increase federal investment in broadband infrastructure on a municipal level. While the bill also includes investments in public safety, broadband consumer protections, affordability and digital equity, there is a significant focus on new provisions to help smaller cities that might be struggling. These provisions include building new or updating existing broadband infrastructure, allowing more flexibility when it comes to investing in local broadband, and prioritizing connectivity for rural areas. Read more >

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Cities Are Essential

According to the National League of Cities (NLC), despite the massive spending bills passed by Congress designed to aid states in battling the coronavirus outbreak, “there has been no direct aid provided to the majority of cities, towns and villages.” This is particularly concerning considering that the frontline for subduing the effects of the virus occurs primarily at the local level.

While businesses are beginning to reopen across the nation after a long shut down, local governments have continued to provide essential services because, as James Inman, City Manager for Bessemer City, NC notes in Southern City Magazine, “the water has to flow.”

Things might seem like they are getting back to normal, but the economic impact of coronavirus shutdowns cannot be understated for local governments. Read more >

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The Importance of Civic Engagement Now More Than Ever

According to the National Research Center (NRC), data collected by the National Community Survey over the last 15 years shows that nearly 80% of residents expect their governments to provide opportunities for community engagement. But with most government offices closed and employees working from home due to the spread of COVID-19 and the adoption of social distancing guidelines, attending a board meeting or town hall is virtually impossible. The timing couldn’t be worse either since civic engagement is now more crucial than ever. As Senior Vice President of Innovation at Polco, Michelle Kobayashi, tells the NRC: “finding ways to connect with people when they are socially isolated…gives people a sense of empowerment…a sense of things they can do to make them feel like they have some control over the situation.”

Luckily, 90% of American adults are active online and the amount of public sector organizations using online tools to gather feedback is on the rise. Read more >

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Will Electronic Voting Improve or Hamper an Already Fragile Process?

Tablets, phones, and mobile devices are everywhere. We use them to read, take notes, and even place orders at restaurants. Their portability and ease-of-use have helped them become a vital part of everyday processes in the private sector. And while the public sector has traditionally been slower to implement new technologies, the convenience of mobile devices has spurred government agencies into readily adopting them. The corresponding increase in efficiency and transparency has even led to public agencies incorporating mobile technology into council, board, and committee meetings; making it easier to record minutes, disperse agendas, and share information. But could the same technology be used for voting? Read more >

Posted in City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Small Cities, Technology, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Will Electronic Voting Improve or Hamper an Already Fragile Process?

3 Ways Cities are Innovating with Technology

Cities across the United States have started to work smarter—not harder—when it comes to improving their technological infrastructure. From free public wi-fi in big cities, to high speed internet in rural areas, and a general push toward financial data transparency, many cities are finding ways to use technology to innovate within their communities.

Free Public Wi-Fi

Coastal hubs like New York City and San Francisco paved the way for free public wi-fi. However, some landlocked cities have caught up and become hubs in their own right. Kansas City, for example, began by installing wi-fi hotspots across 54 square blocks of downtown in 2015. Read more >

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Why We Use Amazon Web Services for the BMS Cloud

The BMS Cloud allows our clients to simplify data management, automate updates and nightly backups, strengthen security, and improve their overall software experience. We offer a smooth transition to the BMS Cloud using in-house migration and installation services, as well by partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the most secure, reliable and responsive providers in the industry.

Three Benefits of AWS for the BMS Cloud

Security

Security is of the highest priority for Amazon Web Services. As a customer, BMS benefits from the same security infrastructure built for larger industries, which includes multiple secure data centers, encrypted data transit, network firewalls, multi-factor authentication, and frequent vulnerability testing to ensure data is stored and transmitted safely. Read more >

Posted in BMS Partners, Cloud Computing, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities, Technology, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Why We Use Amazon Web Services for the BMS Cloud

Be Your Own Hero: How to navigate the journey through cyber security

Imagine you’re at your desk receipting utility payments, answering phones and helping customers. It’s Friday and you’re cruising toward the weekend. With your day already half over, you leave for lunch with a smile. But when you return something is amiss.

You log back into your workstation and the screen flickers with static. A sinister winky-face emoji slowly emerges. Beneath it a “Donate Now” button flashes insistently.

You click around. Try to restart. But your entire system is locked. All you can do is click the Donate button. When you do, horns erupt from the emoji’s forehead and an evil laugh bursts from your speakers. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Cloud Computing, Latest News, Small Cities, Technology | Comments Off on Be Your Own Hero: How to navigate the journey through cyber security

Financial Data Transparency: Build Better Taxpayer Trust and Confidence

A recent Gallup poll shows Congressional approval at an unprecedented historical low of seventeen percent. There’s an endless amount of reasons one could posit as to why that is the case—political dysfunction, legislative gridlock, corruption, a lack of transparency, and virtually everything in between—but regardless, the level of distrust in governmental institutions is growing and even trickling down to the state and local level, which is frustrating for both elected representatives and their constituents.

Before we all sharpen our pitchforks, fire up the torches and start a revolution, though, there is a silver lining worthy of note: a growing trend of public institutions willing to share their financial data with the citizens they serve and a panoply of technological options to do so. Read more >

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