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Information Technology

The Information Technology Office (ITO) is a support service department within the Corporate Services Division. The ITO develops and maintains the information technology infrastructure and supports client workstations and application use. Beyond hardware and software our goal is to provide leadership, professional direction, expertise and assistance in the area of Information Technology and Information Systems to all internal departments.

Mission

To manage the City of Nanaimo's Information Assets in a manner consistent with the corporate goals and objectives.

To provide Council and Management's information needs through the innovative application of computing and telecommunication technologies and to manage effectively an integrated information/communications processing service that features a high degree of functionality, reliability and integrity of data.

To provide information, mapping and Graphical Information Systems (GIS) services in a timely and efficient manner to support Council, Administration, Planning, Engineering, and other City Departments and the public. Provides an integrated computer network, managing data communications, computer applications and telephone services.

Departmental Goals and Objectives

The ITO supports the information technology infrastructure, projects and systems which Council and City Departments require to complete their daily work. It applies innovative computing and telecommunication technologies to meet the goals and objectives established by Council.

The ITO strategy for providing corporate support is based on 4 principles: Client Focus, Business Driven, Knowledge Management, and Technology Platform. Client focus affirms that the allocated information technology resources are applied towards the priorities set by Council and the Departments. Business Driven means that all developed applications will meet the business needs of the organization. Knowledge Management ensures that the appropriate tools and training are provided for City Staff. Technology Platform provides a reliable, accessible and secure computer and communications infrastructure for the organization.

The Information Technology Office administers the central computing system, supporting all departmental use of computing technology and manages the overall City telephone services, including the technical component of the Central Island 911 system.

Departmental Highlights

Information technology will continue to be an increasingly key component in providing City services to the public and internal clients. Information technology projects that assist in providing these services have been identified and planned for the next three to five years. The focus of these projects generally falls into one of the following five areas:

  • web services
  • mapping and GIS services
  • mobility and wireless services
  • electronic document and records management
  • network services

The ITO supports in excess of 160 computer based applications that are used by Council, staff and the public. Many of these are regularly upgraded and expanded for improved service and functionality. Services cover the two broad areas of Application Support and Technical Support.

Application Support

Application support includes Website development, Internet-delivered mapping development, and database development - looking after database components housing financial and property information. Working together, these three development areas bring City services to the public via the City's Website, create GIS Mapping applications for the public and for internal planning and operations, and drive and maintain the software and the vast store of data behind these and other City systems.

Technical Support

Technical Support deploys and maintains the City's desktop computer systems and all the servers supplying and exchanging information as well as installing and maintaining the network operating systems used throughout the City. They maintain fibre optic communication networks between all City sites including recreation facilities, fire halls, and public buildings as well as an expanding network of "hot spot" wireless network connections.

Technical Support also maintains the City's network protection ensuring the security and confidentiality of data, and performs all the system backup procedures that ensure data can be restored in the event of emergencies that may bring systems down. The City's Help Desk staff are also on hand to assist staff with software and hardware requests for service, and to maintain the City's telephone network.

Major Projects and Initiatives

Web Services

Moving most of the services old and new into the Internet environment. This is an important business requirement which will enable clients and the public to obtain information and carry out much of the data entry otherwise handled by data entry clerks and other staff – this means that computers can then instantly carry out the tasks of validating and verifying so errors can be corrected immediately and then automatically make/collect payments, issue permits etc. .

Mapping

There is no end to the potential uses of mapping and GIS - not only for property registration, utilities, boundaries etc., but also to show where services like rec. centres, child care, cemeteries, city vehicles and so on are located. New software for maps is evolving all the time. This means that ITO and its clients must keep each other informed of new areas of application so as to maintain effective systems and standards for maps and GIS. The volume of data and software changes needed will require ITO to implement frequent upgrades to infrastructure.

Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)

Real time location of anything that moves is now easy to do and cost effective. Any emergency vehicle, delivery truck, road maintenance equipment, service vehicle etc. can be tracked using wireless networks (like your cellular phone) or satellite. This has obvious benefits for allocation, control, and planning the use and location of vehicle fleets. It means that for inspectors, maintenance crews, emergency services and others who need to travel to locations can be electronically guided without the need for paper maps – and be provided with detailed information on the destination.

Mobile Services

Hand held computers are now smart, low cost, and portable using wireless technology. They offer the possibilities of recording information indirectly for inventory, data collection and communication. We have all seen the rapid rise in the use of “Blackberrys” for phone and e-mail. These and similar devices will become much faster and be used for recording things like time sheets, building inspections, equipment and vehicle inventories, the use of equipment and services etc.

Electronic Document Management

All governments and larger private sector organizations face a growing problem of what to do with the billions of electronic documents created each day. And for IT departments how to store, secure, and make instantly available any byte of the many terabytes of data. The picture is further complicated by Federal, Provincial, and Local legislation which sets rules as to who can or cannot see particular documents, who has responsibility for them, and when they must be filed or destroyed. The City is already looking at software to help to deal with the electronic copies of documents, e-mails, faxes, maps etc.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

The ITO will continue to update and improve the infrastructure, and accommodate expansion and new applications to make sure that City software and data is recoverable and can be quickly restored to full operation in the event of any kind of business interruption – from a desk top PC breakdown to a full scale earthquake!

To do this, the ITO will continue to review applications and data as well as provide secure off site location for frequent copies. As more and more information updates databases with tens of thousands of transactions each day it can become necessary to implement services which recover to the second before a breakdown – further increasing demand for storage and recovery services.

Information Technology Infrastructure Expansion

The projects described above create the need for more disk space, more data bases, faster and more servers, increases in wireless and wired network capacity as well as continuous replacement of desk top and other equipment made obsolete by new developments in hardware and software.

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