South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

City switches over to Google Apps for Government for email, cloud services


January 10, 2012

On time and on budget, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Google executives celebrated Pittsburgh government's successful transition to Google Apps for Government.

In less than four months, nearly 3,000 city employees made the switch from Microsoft Exchange email to a Google-operated email and communication system that will save the city about 25 percent in annual email support costs and make employees more efficient. In addition, employees now have shorter, more customer-friendly email addresses, 500 times more email capacity and IT personnel no longer have to spend time on server management and maintenance.

"Adopting Google Apps aligns with our goals to utilize the best, most innovative technology in order to modernize our government, cut costs and improve operational efficiencies," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "We're very excited about this new service and I'm very proud of all of our employees for adopting it so swiftly."

"We're thrilled that the City of Pittsburgh is using Google Apps for Government," said Michael Lock, vice president for Google Enterprise, North America.

Google Apps for Government includes Gmail, Google Calendar and integrated IM, which allow employees to stay connected and work together with ease. And, using Google Docs and Google Sites, which include word processing, spreadsheet, pre-sentation and website creation tools, they can share files and collaborate in real-time, keeping versions organized and available wherever and whenever users work. The city's department of City Information Systems (CIS) orchestrated the training and together employees trained for more than 1,000 hours. Already, the mayor's staff is utilizing Google Apps to improve operations.

"Staff in my Neighborhood Initiatives Office can better organize the needs of communities through shared documents that all can reference, update and track in real-time," Mr. Ravenstahl said.

During the transition, all city employee email addresses changed from address to Citizens should begin using the latter address immediately, though if the former is used it will forward to the new address.

Google Apps is the first cloud productivity suite to receive Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification from the U.S. government. The FISMA certification includes a rigorous evaluation of the security processes and data protections in place in Google Apps for Government and is required by U.S. federal government customers, who must comply with FISMA by law. Google Apps for Government uses a dedicated "government only" cloud that is shared by and available only to government agencies in the United States.

"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.

The city issued a competitive request for proposals in June of 2010 for an improved email and archiving system. A working group of governmental and non-profit technology leaders evaluated the proposals utilizing best practice models in technology. Of the seven bids, Google offered the most competitive price when factoring the costs of integration, implementation, training and data archival.

"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," Mr, Ravenstahl said. "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 to keep city government on the forefront of innovation."


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