Riding the Tech WaveBy Gordon Bruce | Posted 2009-09-04 Email Print
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Modernizing Honolulu’s IT infrastructure involved implementing 150 major systems. but these endeavors created a host of new security challenges.
The IT infrastructure of the city and county of Honolulu needed a major overhaul, and that Herculean challenge fell to Gordon Bruce, director and CIO of the Department of Information Technology. In just about four years, his department implemented approximately 150 major IT systems, collapsed 14 disparate phone systems onto a converged IP voice/data network and made significant upgrades to numerous public safety systems.
The goal was to better support Honolulu’s nearly 9,000 employees with improved operations, communications and applications, and to provide citizens with online access to new services. But giving employees and citizens online access raised significant security concerns, so that was the next step Bruce and his team tackled.
I’ve always been a sucker for a challenge. So, when Mufi Hannemann was elected mayor of Honolulu in 2004 and asked me to help bring the IT systems into the 21st century, I signed on eagerly.
Mayor Hannemann’s election represented the first change in our city and county’s administration in more than 20 years. I had long been working in the private sector but found the opportunities presented by this government project irresistible.
The city and county of Honolulu’s IT and network systems were woefully out of date, having been underfunded to the tune of about $100 million. Clearly, it was time for modern technology. That represented a chance for me to sink my teeth into the myriad aspects of overhauling an entire IT infrastructure.
As it turned out, we were able to complete a significant portion of our ambitious goals in four years without increasing our annual budget. We did this largely by leasing new high-end equipment, replacing outdated hardware and software, and identifying cost savings opportunities.
During that time, the Department of Information Tech-nology (DIT) implemented about 150 major systems, including a new CGI Group ERP and numerous online applications. We also collapsed 14 disparate phone systems onto a converged IP voice/data network from Cisco Systems and Envision Telephony, and made significant upgrades to numerous public safety systems, including interoperable communications across more than 20 city, county, military, state and federal agencies.
One incentive behind our new infrastructure was to better support our nearly 9,000 city employees with improved operations, communications and applications. Those individuals work for the police and fire departments, emergency services, planning and permitting department, budget department and other diverse groups.
One of the mayor’s initiatives was to have citizens spend “more time online and less time in line.” His goal was to provide citizens with online access to new services, such as registrations, building permits and appointments to take driver’s license tests.