Procurement teams need to take a holistic approach when acquiring technology, said Bill Campbell, senior vice president of North America for Hexagon Security, Infrastructure and Geospatial. Hexagon offers a variety of digital reality solutions. Its products combine sensors, software and autonomous technology. The company uses data to improve efficiency, productivity, quality and safety across industries, including the public sector and mobile applications. Campbell’s divisions work to improve the resilience and sustainability of critical services and infrastructure around the world.
“It’s important for governments to know that they’re not just buying technology. They’re also buying the experience and expertise of suppliers. These are often large, complex purchases of mission- and business-critical enterprise systems. Most importantly Yes, government agencies are modernizing legacy systems and digitally reinventing workflows,” Campbell told Reuters Collaborative Solutions.
Buying technology has always been a complex process, and recent changes in government processes are adding to the complexity, Campbell said. He added: Cities and counties need to work together with proven experience to navigate the complex, ever-changing technological landscape. Partners should provide specific experience in relevant fields, he said. “For example, 911 centers are very complex. You need a partner with very specific expertise to manage that complexity, who understands the challenges public safety agencies face, can make adjustments when needed and foresee what’s to come. In the long run It seems that this knowledge, along with reliable technology, will save buyers time, money and a lot of headaches.”
Campbell said the public sector should be completely transparent when it comes to acquiring new technology. “As artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), devices and sensors, drones, data-sharing platforms and other data-centric technologies become more commonplace in government, leaders must Keep an open mind – close on what’s being deployed and how it’s being used. Getting feedback and support from internal and external communities beforehand can lead to more successful initiatives.”
He added that as solutions become more data-centric, institutions need to consider the uses and consequences of that data. “For example, the demand for multiple real-time data such as video, text and sensors will only increase. It will become increasingly important to have in-house solutions to provide continuous storage, analysis and protection of data.” His conclusion: Defending against today’s Cyber threats are no longer enough; anticipating the dangers of tomorrow is also imperative.
Campbell believes cities and counties should closely scrutinize potential suppliers’ technology purchases. “Do they have what you need today? Do they have plans for the future? Do they have a clear roadmap for transitioning from on-premises to the cloud? Do they have the ability to integrate new innovations, address new industry and regulatory challenges, etc. These answers should guide purchasing decisions.”
Campbell said the government is facing challenges unheard of decades ago. These include increasing cyber threats, soaring maintenance costs for legacy IT systems, new requirements for regulatory compliance, and a changing workforce that has a different relationship to technology than older technology users.
Campbell believes that because of these challenges, technology procurement teams in government are expanding beyond IT and finance to include representatives from other affected groups. What’s more, as technology becomes more open to share data within and across organizations, it has a wider reach, including more roles and sectors in the public sector. These expanded tech procurement teams could include business and operations staff as well as day-to-day users, Campbell said. “Successful long-term solutions require more representatives with specialized knowledge and skills who can contribute their expertise to the buying process.”
Depending on the project, the technical procurement team should include a little bit, in terms of skill sets. There are several key players on the team, Campbell said. These include:
• Representative from the CIO or CTO office focused on innovation
• IT staff to keep trains running on time
• Information Security Professionals Worried About Threats
• Consider business system administrators for other core systems
• Law enforcement officers
• Telecom system planner
It’s not just a matter of technology, Campbell explained. “You need people who understand the business process you’re trying to achieve with this technology.” Team members need to be able to solve nasty challenges, he added. “As technology scope and capabilities expand, it is critical that team members not only keep up with the latest technology and regulatory requirements, but also understand the problem at hand and be able to work with others to solve it.”
Campbell told the public sector that it needed to update its technology, but it had to overcome several hurdles, including an outdated acquisition strategy, tough political climate and resistance to change Collaborative SolutionsGovernment managers need to understand the inherent risks associated with outdated technology, such as cyber threats, high costs of legacy systems, fines for non-compliance and poor service, he said. Understanding these risks can help governments gain the momentum they need to make IT upgrades.
Campbell concluded: “From there, you need to focus on removing any ongoing barriers. Stakeholders need to be kept informed of progress. Users need to be trained, and trained again. Again, the common theme is remembering the people involved, Not just technology.”
Campbell believes that cooperative procurement agreements for access to technology can be an effective tool for governments. “For example, two or more public safety agencies can aggregate their current and long-term technology needs into a single solicitation. These agencies benefit from pooling resources to define needs, as opposed to multiple independent efforts trying to achieve the same goal.” Campbell added that the collaborative deal “not only eliminates procurement redundancies, but also facilitates forward-looking requirements based on technology.”
He also believes that cooperative deals could potentially help public procurement officers. “A set of tenders that pool resources to benefit multiple agencies over a defined period can save time and resources.” He noted that public safety agencies are in a unique position to not compete with each other and need to collaborate with each other on a daily basis. “So collaborating from a procurement perspective is a natural progression of how agencies collaborate within their communities to perform first responder functions.”
Hexagon’s Security, Infrastructure and Geospatial division works with local governments across the U.S. and around the world to help them make faster, smarter decisions on public safety, utilities, transportation, and more. Campbell said cities and counties use his company’s public safety solutions, including computer-assisted dispatch, law enforcement records management and advanced analytics, to better manage incidents.
One case study he provided was the Office of Unified Communications (OUC) in Washington, DC. It uses the company’s dispatch software in communications centers and units to coordinate responses among dozens of agencies, including police, fire, emergency medical services and the city’s non-emergency customer service operations. “As DC rolls out new initiatives to better serve citizens, such as alternative scheduling programs involving behavioral health professionals, Hexagon’s flexible solutions help facilitate these programs.”
Michael Keating is a senior editor at American City & County.contact him [email protected].