Israeli government turns to Microsoft Azure

By Maor David-Pur, Government Industry Solution Manager, Microsoft Israel, as written on enterprise.microsoft.com
As governments from around the world consider moving to the cloud, many are turning to Microsoft to help them with this move. Why? Because Microsoft Azure offers the greatest flexibility and security of any major cloud computing platform. Moreover, we’re committed to working with governments to meet their unique needs.
A great example is the Israeli government, which has been hosting an increasing number of workloads on Azure. By choosing Azure, government officials are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware and maintenance costs. They’re obtaining a flexible solution that allows them to keep sensitive data on-premises. And they’re improving services for citizens by offering them solutions that automatically scale up to meet user demand. Consider the following examples:

The Israeli parliament is broadcasting its meetings with Azure Media Services

During the past few years, an increasing number of citizens have been tuning in to watch the meetings of the Knesset, Israeli’s parliament. To meet the growing demand, the parliament has begun streaming these meetings both live and on-demand using Azure Media Services, a highly scalable, cloud-based video streaming service. By moving to Azure, the Knesset has saved money in hardware and maintenance costs, while offering citizens a service that automatically scales up and down as demand dictates. Azure has also enabled the parliament to make its meetings accessible to citizens from almost any device including the Android, iPhone, and Windows platforms.

Israeli Railways runs its journey planning service on Azure

The Israeli Railways Company offered a journey planning service hosted on its own servers, but the service had been slow and sometimes crashed, which discouraged citizens from using it. To improve the service without an expensive hardware investment, the state-owned railway moved its database to Azure. Israeli Railways was initially concerned about privacy and security, but it was reassured by our industry-leading commitment to protect our customer’s data. By running its database on Azure, Israeli Railways has saved money in hardware and maintenance costs. Moreover, the railway now has a highly available and scalable service that citizens can depend on for their transportation needs
Based on its positive experience with Azure, the Israeli government is continuing to extend its use. Israeli Railways is planning to move other parts of its website to Azure. And the Knesset plans to add 18 more channels that broadcast committee meetings in addition to meetings of the entire parliament. In addition, the Knesset’s research arm is experimenting with Azure Machine Learning as it researches the impact of proposed legislation.
These scenarios demonstrate some of the many ways that Azure can help governments meet their unique needs. The Israeli government is turning to Azure for a growing number of services because it’s scalable, cost-effective, and highly secure—and because it offers a hybrid approach, giving the government the control and flexibility it needs. To learn more, please see our Microsoft Azure web page.



Metrics That Matter: How Does Technology Affect Government Outcomes?

CIOs need to develop better ways to measure the impact of technology.
By Kevin C. Desouza as written on Govtech.com.
There's little doubt that government's already substantial investment in information technology is going to continue to grow as public agencies look for ways to streamline processes, engage with citizens and achieve social outcomes. Chief information officers are going to be required to show not only that IT funds are being expended effectively but also that these resources are driving outcomes that government and the public care about. Consider this question: If you were to invest $1 in a parks program and $1 in the IT department, which would provide a greater return?
Questions like that are going to take on even more importance with the emergence of new technologies (think about drones and self-driving cars), new platforms (consider bitcoin and the future of digital currency), and new tools (such as predictive analytics and the emerging field of algorithmic regulation).
Over the last six months, I have interviewed more than two dozen CIOs and other IT executives across all levels of government on the state of IT metrics for performance management in the public sector. The findings from these interviews are summarized in a new report published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.
In the report, I offer three overarching recommendations to help CIOs begin to develop meaningful metrics for their organizations or to improve the ones they already use:
  • CIOs should engage stakeholders -- both internal and external ones -- in creating logic models that outline and trace the impact of IT assets to intermediate outputs and ultimately to outcomes that matter. In doing so, CIOs should engage with clients to develop client-specific metrics. They also should strive to gather input to gain a better understanding of how IT is perceived by stakeholders.
  • CIOs should develop networks to share data on IT performance, both internally and with other communities with similar populations, industries, demographics or needs. These networks offer CIOs an opportunity to gain insights about experiences, challenges and good ideas; benchmark or compare metrics; and gain buy-in for specific initiatives or projects. Currently, CIO networks at the local level are underdeveloped. Where we have seen these networks utilized, CIOs have used them as learning opportunities and are doing much better in utilizing metrics to improve performance.
  • CIOs need to work creatively to arrive at innovation metrics. In my research, I found a general lack of metrics to capture innovations associated with IT. CIOs are innovating and have anecdotal evidence to share, but they lack quality methods to measure those innovations. While metrics around innovation are inherently difficult to define and establish, they are needed more than ever. Creativity and constant refinement are essential.
As technology continues to develop, the level of IT innovation will become even more of a key differentiator among governments, particularly across local jurisdictions striving to streamline operations and create sustainable neighborhoods and resilient communities. A key question that will be asked of CIOs is how their investments in technology measure up. Clearly they are going to need to be able to answer that question.
This article was originally published by Governing.
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Long Beach (Calif.) Evolves its IT Workforce, Platforms and Focus

Millennial workers without tech backgrounds and coding on their phones -- this isn't your father's IT shop.
By Steve Towns as written on Govtech.com.

With baby boomers gradually leaving the government IT workforce, public agencies are scrambling to attract a new generation of employees. Long Beach, Calif., CIO Bryan Sastokas says he’s working to attract millennial employees by adopting open source and cloud-based platforms and emphasizing community-focused initiatives. Sastokas also is hiring more employees who lack traditional IT backgrounds, and the result of that, he says, is a shift toward agile, business-centric solutions. Sastokas talked about his department’s workforce evolution in an interview during Government Technology’s Los Angeles Digital Government Summit earlier this week.

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