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New year, new start for the City of Pittsburgh

Posted by Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Editors note: Today Mayor Ravenstahl is announcing that almost 3,000 city employees just started using Google Apps for Government.

People love to work and live in Pittsburgh. It’s ranked America’s “Most Livable City” year after year due to a low, and decreasing, crime rate, a burgeoning arts and cultural scene, and an affordable cost of living that offers families the nation’s largest scholarship program for public school students. Pittsburgh also has a humming high-tech economy that builds off of our manufacturing past. To keep our city at the forefront of innovation, my administration adopts the latest technology applications that modernize our government, while cutting costs and improving our daily operations.

I am pleased to announce that in about four months we successfully retired our Microsoft Exchange 2003 email system and moved almost all 3,000 city employees to Google Apps for Government. This move will save us 25 percent or more in annual email support costs and allow us to deliver better services to our residents. Our employees are working more efficiently because they have 500 times more email storage and no longer need to waste time emptying their inboxes. We’re also able to capture and index all employees’ email and attachments in one centralized and searchable repository, which helps us meet e-discovery needs much more efficiently.

Since 40 percent of our employees already have personal Gmail accounts, the migration went smoothly with the help of Google implementation partner, Daston Corporation. Our employees are excited to collaborate on a single document simultaneously, and participate in video chats with each other no matter where we are. My staff is better able to address the needs of community members by creating a shared document that outlines neighborhood needs and tasks that all can reference and update.

We are also enhancing the security of our data while saving money. Our data now lives in a datacenter environment dedicated to US government entities that has been through the federal government’s FISMA certification process. “While the city still retains full ownership of our data, we can count on Google for data safety and security,” said CIO Howard A. Stern, Ph.D. who spearheaded the transition.“Our data is more secure with Google than with the previous system.”

We're grateful for Google's commitment to the tech sector in Pittsburgh, and we're proud to be using Google Apps in city government. As we kick off the New Year in the “cloud,” we look forward to exploring more ways to improve collaboration and productivity with Google Apps. We believe that this transition will help keep the City innovative.