Category Archives: Technology

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 >

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The Problem of Advanced Artificial Intelligence

The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for decades with people pondering its philosophical implications the entire time. From the stories of Isaac Asimov in the 50s to modern television series like Westworld, humanity seems obsessed with both the potential and danger associated with sentient technology. And, unlike the prospect of flying cars, the discussion over AI is now more relevant than ever.

There are two primary camps in the debate over AI: the pessimists and optimists, which can be represented by folks like former presidential candidate Andrew Yang or MIT research scientist Lex Fridman respectively. Yang recently brought the idea of automation displacing American workers in the trucking industry into the national spotlight. Read more >

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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 >

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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 >

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No power? No Problem!

BMS was literally left in the dark with two consecutive, midweek power outages. The most recent lasted only a few minutes and served as a minor but exciting inconvenience, whereas the previous outage lasted quite a few hours after a frog tripped a breaker and shut down the entire county in a single leap. Absurd? Absolutely. Catastrophic? Not at all, but it easily could’ve been.

Fortunately, our office and network infrastructure are equipped for dealing with emergencies. Yet the event served as a teaching moment, a testament to precisely why planning for the worst is the best way to confront the unexpected when it rears its ugly head. Read more >

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How the Cloud is Changing Telecommuting for the Better

Technology has changed everything, and the ability to telecommute is one of those.
In fact, telecommuting trend data collected by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com shows:

  • 50% of the US workforce has a job that is at least partially compatible with telework or telecommuting
  • 20-25% of the workforce telecommutes at some frequency (2.8% work at least part-time from home)
  • 80-90% of the workforce would like to telecommute at least part-time
  • Fortune 1000 company employees are not at their desk 50-60% of the time
  • The amount of regular, non-self-employed work-at-home employees has increased 140% since 2005

The growing trend for telecommuters and telework is not likely to decline anytime soon. Read more >

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Helping You Adapt to Change

The only thing that’s constant is change.

Regulations change, reporting requirements change, and technology changes, too. Within the past few years, we’ve seen a number of reporting requirements change–from the Montana Public Retirement System to Federal Affordable Care Act reporting. These changes are frustrating for clients. It means new reports, more data entry and a system to check for errors. But we are determined to ease that pain, to the best of our ability, by creating add-ons to our software and updating our systems whenever there are new mandated compliance requirements for our clients.

How BMS Software Eases the Pain of Changing Compliance Requirements

  • US-based support.
  • Read more >
    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Staff, City Clerk Cafe, Cloud Computing, Government Accounting Standards, School Software, Small Cities, Technology, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Helping You Adapt to Change

    The Importance of City Permitting and How BMS Can Help

    Permitting is an important and necessary process for cities and towns that controls and regulates construction to ensure that all work is done according to municipal code. It can be a long and arduous process for both the applicant and the municipality, but it is necessary to sustain the economic interests, safety, and growth of any community.

    Why City Permitting is Important:

    • Permitting regulates and controls construction to ensure work meets codes and city ordinances
    • Permitting helps ensure work has been done safely and inspected (if required)
    • Permitting helps enforce safety, convenience, and aesthetic standards for the city
    • Aids in establishing and maintaining property information
    • Helps enforce zoning laws
    • Permitting protects residential and commercial property value
    • Permitting helps track growth and plan for future development of land, utilities, and public services

    Though this process is generally a tedious one, Black Mountain Software offers a Permitting module designed to assist and streamline your city’s efforts. Read more >

    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Small Cities, Technology, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Importance of City Permitting and How BMS Can Help

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