The Cheney City Council’s approval of a new agreement at their July 23 meeting with Intrinium Networks to manage information technology appears to be a win-win deal.
The city wins with the agreement that will pay the Spokane Valley firm just shy of $100,000 per year to manage all things IT. Cheney residents and taxpayers win with a solid track record of service.
After the project went out for bid, city staff recommended the upgrade of the city’s computer firewall, the device and software that protects information on computers. The cost: $29,340.87. Additionally, council approved a contract, “not to exceed $90,000,” for Intrinium to provide general IT services.
The changes to the contract and the need to upgrade things came when the city changed phone companies. The need to have the latest security for computer systems was illustrated during a recent seminar that the city’s finance director, Cindy Niemeier, attended.
Niemeier was told that if the next generation of firewall is not in place “you’re not doing yourself any good at all.”
“The city’s insurance carrier, the Washington Cities Insurance Authority is taking a big step in that they have a security audit they have been working on the past couple of years,” Niemeier said. The end result is, “to protect our network systems, protect our information, protect our money, protect all of that.”
This is not just the latest and greatest protection for all the information that already resides in the city’s computer center, secure behind walls and locked doors.
“It does Web filtering for us as far as website users,” she said. “It allows us to block out certain sites if we need to.”
The new system also allows blocking of social media for some City Hall users, but not others.
“It still allows us to give it to other places,” Niemeier explained. “For instance our Parks and Recreation Department uses social media to reach out to the community as far as events and activities that are happening and we don’t want to block their ability to do that.”
There’s password management that helps so employees don’t have passwords written down in the desk drawer for prying eyes to see.
“It is really going to lead to some nice enhancements and protection for the city of Cheney,” Niemeier said.
Intrinium manages the city’s network and handles troubleshooting, all along with the firewall.
“They’re the ones who, (when) ‘I can’t get on, I can’t print this,’ they’re the ones we start a (repair) ticket with,” Niemeier said. “We don’t have on-site IT (information technology) anymore,” she said, adding that the position was eliminated due to budget cuts.
Intrinium now manages everything for the city from the tech standpoint, installing computers and including making sure they are up and running
The company was brought on board several years ago, Niemeier explained. “They did a network audit for us and at that time we brought them on board to supplement our onsite IT people.”
When the internal IT position went away, the city decided to enhance the level of involvement from Intrinium did. “We invoked the higher level of service and they would do this, this and this for us as well,” Niemeier said. “They do a very good job for us, they’re responsive, they have a nice staff, you submit your ticket and you hear from them right away.”
City Administrator Arlene Fisher claims the city has saved $70,000 in employee costs since working with Intrinium.
With better management of the city’s computer systems, the residents of Cheney benefit in a number of ways, Niemeier said. “Obviously, when someone’s computer is down – you know that personally – it puts a wrench in your system.”
Intrinium’s thorough knowledge of the city’s system will go a long way in making sure things work on all levels for the citizens. “People can pay their utility bills, people access our website all the time to find out what’s going on,” she said. “If that’s down that’s not great for our citizens.”
There’s an additional important aspect from the standpoint of the firewall and that is city records and information is secure.
“You read about that other cities have been hacked into and have some big financial losses,” Niemeier said. “Maybe some bad network management issues; it is the city’s desire to always be on top of that.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.