The goal of the Information Systems Department is to increase productivity, by streamlining the flow of information and providing technical support and training to all Town offices. We have been working with Town departments so that information generated from one can be utilized by many.
Twenty-six new desktop computers, two LCDΓÇÖs and eight printers were purchased and distributed to Town departments. Nine new laptops were purchased for department supervisors and staff. This allows them to connect the laptop to a docking station in their offices, and to bring them home or to meetings when needed.
Two Apple iPads were purchased and distributed to supervisors. The low cost, portability and long battery life make these devices invaluable tools for meetings and presentations. The Friends of the Goodnow Library purchased an additional ten iPads for the library. These iPads are for patron use and are located in the Reference and ChildrenΓÇÖs areas of the library.
We have upgraded our virtual platform, VMWare to version 5.5 and continue to virtualize our physical servers. The advent of virtualization has helped reduce the setup time and cost of server upgrades. We have updated our document archiving software and our permitting software databases to the Microsoft SQL 2008 virtual servers.
Our accounting software, MUNIS was moved from the physical to the virtual server environment. The new MUNIS virtual server operated in a testing environment for about a month. During that period we worked on functionality issues. This also provided an opportunity for town staff to test out the new system before going live
Last year, an EMC VNXe 3100 NAS/SAN storage device was added to our network. This addition increased by 10TB our network storage capacity. We have migrated our virtual server storage (currently housed on the EMC NS22) to the new storage device. We are planning to move the NS22 over to the Police Station this spring, as part of our virtualization project which includes the establishment of a Police VMWare virtual host server. This virtual host will allow us to virtualize the PAMET Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) server. The establishment of a virtual presence at the Police Station will enable us to set up site replication so that the virtual servers at Flynn will be replicated to the Police StationΓÇÖs virtual network in a passive state. All virtual servers running at the Police Station will also be replicated over to the Flynn Building. The establishment of virtual site replication will ensure server redundancy in the event of a disaster.
We continue to improve the performance, reliability and security of our Town Wide-Area Network. The Transfer Station at 20 Boston Post road was added to the TownΓÇÖs network by establishing a Comcast internet connection at the site. This allowed us to establish a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to the TownΓÇÖs network. The VPN gives the Transfer Station access to town network infrastructure, including telephony, email, website, databases and documents. The staff is now able to access the Transfer Sticker Database in which they can lookup sticker records to determine whether or not a person has purchase a transfer station sticker. We also added a VoIP phone which eliminated the need for a per Verizon telephone line at the site. The site has moved from being technologically isolated to resource enabled.
The Information Systems Department has completed a major upgrade of the TownΓÇÖs telephone network. The 7 year old Cisco Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone system which serves the Flynn Building and Fairbank Community Center was designated as end-of ΓÇôlife by Cisco. Two new Cisco servers were purchased and VMWare was installed and configured on each of the servers creating two virtual hosts. Virtual instances of both the Call Manager (Telephone) and Unity Connection (Voicemail) servers were created on each of the hosts. The data on the old telephone system was migrated to the new servers and the telephone software was upgraded from version 6.0 to 9.1. The new version of the software required the replacement of our voice routers with new integrated service routers which were compatible with the new VoIP system. The redundant telephone servers located at the Flynn and Fairbanks buildings provide call load balancing and failover capabilities.
The stand-alone telephone systems at the Library and the DPW buildings were replaced with Cisco Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) VoIP systems. The SRST utilize the Fiber Optic lines that connect all of our Town buildings. This allows users to make outside calls using the Flynn Building digital PRI (Primary Rate Interface) line which provides for up to 23 outside calls at one time. Any overflow of calls will use the 14 Centrex backup lines located in the Flynn, Fairbank, DPW and Library buildings. The sharing of lines gives the DPW and Library access to more lines than the stand-alone system provided and allowed us to reduce the total number of physical lines in the buildings from 22 to 7. The DPW and Library also now use DID (Direct Inward Dialing) numbers which provide 10 digit numbers for each telephone and analog device in the buildings. Residents can now dial a department or person directly instead of going through a lengthy Automated Attendant. A list of these new numbers can be found in the TownΓÇÖs Telephone Directory located on the website at http://sudbury.ma.us/about/telephone_dept.asp. The implementation of DID also lets us set up direct numbers for Storm Emergency (978-440-5411), Hazardous Waste Day (978-440-5449), Museum Passes (978-440-5592) and many other information lines. Another benefit of the VoIP system is the ability for staff to call any Town building phone with a 4-digit internal extension eliminating the need for an outside line, thus freeing these lines for public calls. The SRSTΓÇÖs are able to operate independently in the event of a fiber break or other network disruption. The addition of the new SRSTΓÇÖs provides greater functionally as well as a reduction in the TownΓÇÖs annual telecommunication costs.
The Cisco Emergency Responder (CER) was added to provide Advance E911 services on our VoIP network. E911 service alone can trace the location of an emergency call only to the building address from which the call originated. CER services can trace the location of an emergency call to the specific phone and/or location within the building, from which the emergency call was placed. The system will automatically relocate a VoIP phone if it is moved from one building to another. The Cisco Emergency Responder is also fully compliant with the Massachusetts State 911 Department regulations governing enhanced 911 service for multi-line telephone systems.
The Nortel BCM 400 telephone system was replaced by the Cisco SRST at the DPW building. This system was redeployed to the main Fire Station on Hudson Road replacing their 14 year old telephone system. Both the Fire and Police Stations now have BCM 400 telephone systems at their locations which are connected to each other via IP trunking. The BCMΓÇÖs have also been integrated with the Cisco VoIP system, allowing the BCMΓÇÖs to extension dial to all Town building locations and freeing lines for public calling. New Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Regulations require that all Emergency Medical Dispatch occur in the location in which the Enhance 911 system resides. This requirement made it necessary to combine the dispatch operations of the Town at the Police Station. Since all calls now go through the Police Station the ability to transfer the Fire calls to the appropriate person or area within the Fire Department is necessary. The addition of the BCM at the Fire Department allows us to easily transfer calls between Fire and Police. The Nortel BCM has VoIP capabilities. VoIP telephones have been deployed to the satellite Fire Stations located at Route 20 and 117 creating better communication between the sites, and eliminating the need for land lines at these locations. Because there are times that the Fire Station will be unmanned when responding to emergencies, any calls to the station will automatically bounce back to the Police Dispatcher if not answered after 6 rings. The dispatcher will answer questions or offer to transfer the person to fire employeeΓÇÖs voicemail.
The TownΓÇÖs IT Department worked with the School Department to establish extension dialing from the TownΓÇÖs Cisco and BCM phone systems to the new system at the Nixon school. Calling by extension utilizes the Town and School networks thus removing the need for a Verizon phone line. This frees up our Verizon lines for calls that are outside of our telephony network.
We have made significant strides in consolidating our telephony services into one unified system thus allow our buildings to share telephony services. This will result in annual telecommunication cost savings and help streamline the management and functionality of the TownΓÇÖs telecommunications network.
The Town of Sudbury’s website was developed in 1998. The website was designed so that every department/committee was given responsibility for posting and updating their information. By giving web responsibilities to all departments/committees we provided the public with comprehensive and timely information without taxing the resources of one person or department.
When the TownΓÇÖs website was created there was no web Content Management Systems (CMS) available. The IT Department created a home-grown CMS which has worked well for the Town over the past 16 years. Today a number of web Content Management Systems have been develop and millions of businesses are using these systems for their websites.
After extensive research we determined that the WordPress CMS would provide the functionality we needed and would be able to mimic the structure we currently have in place. During the summer of 2013 a new WordPress beta site was established. Our web developer, Edward Hurtig has been working on mimicking the functionality of our current site by adding a number of WordPress modules to the site. We are hoping to go live with the new Town website by the end of September 2014.
A number of new features have been added to the Town Website including a new Town Meeting section (http://sudbury.ma.us/townmeeting). This includes all present and past information about Town Meetings held in Sudbury. We wanted to create an area where residents could go to easily find the latest information about 2014 Town Meeting Articles in development, as well as articles that were voted on in the past. The Town Meeting website offers navigational sections designed to be user friendly.
The first tab youΓÇÖll see is the News tab which has news articles relating to Articles that will be presented at the 2014 Annual Town Meeting.
There is also Audio tab which contains Town Meeting audio recordings from 2003 through 2013.
The Proceedings tab contains Town Meeting Proceedings from 1959 through 2013. The Proceedings are documents created by the Town ClerkΓÇÖs Office which include transcripts of each yearΓÇÖs Town Meetings as well as all of the election results for that year. These documents are in a PDF format and are completely searchable. The documents were scanned and posted by the Town ClerkΓÇÖs Office.
The Warrants tab contains Town Meeting Warrants from 1997 through 2013. Additionally, warrants from the 1960ΓÇÖs, as well as one from 1959 are included.
The TM Articles tab contains a Warrant Article Search area in which the user can choose the Town Meeting they are interested in from a drop down menu. All Annual Town Meetings begin with TM and the year the Town Meeting occurred. The Special Town Meetings begin with STM and the Year and Month the Special Town Meeting was held. After choosing your Town Meeting, a list of the articles presented at that town meeting will be displayed. The article list is divided into 6 categories: Finance Budget, Capital, Zoning, Community Preservation, Other Town and Petition. The articles are listed under each category in article number order.
Clicking on an Article youΓÇÖre interested in will bring you to a detail section for that article. The detail section contains information about the article including the vote required, article sponsor and developer, the Board of Selectmen position, etc. Navigation arrows on the left and right let you scroll through all of the articles for the Town Meeting chosen. You can also click on the Find Meeting and Warrant Articles tab to go back to the Town Meeting Article list to choose another article or Town Meeting.
Past Town Meetings will have a Voting Results section which will display the Date of the Vote, and the Vote Results. If the Article required additional approval, such as a Ballot Question or State approval, those results will also display in this section.
The Public Hearing section contains links to all minutes from committee/board meetings that were held in which the article was discussed. There are also Cable Broadcast links to some of these meetings which were broadcasted on SudburyTV.
There is an Online Information section which has links to all online information relating to the Article on the web.
The Documents section contains article presentations and documents that have been uploaded and posted to this website.
The Town Meeting Presentation section contains all of the presentations that were made at Town Meeting for that article. This area is only populated after the Town Meeting is over.
This new and comprehensive website will allow residents to have immediate access to Town Meeting information past and present, as well as to have updated access to articles, documents and other archival Town Meeting information.
The IT department has moved Public Email Groups from our Exchange email server to Constant Contact. Over 3,500 email addresses of people who subscribed to our seven public email groups were moved. Constant Contact is one of the leading providers of email marketing services. Constant Contact greatly improves the process of subscribing and unsubscribing to our email groups and has eliminated spam bounces from Internet Service Providers.
A convenient Subscribe Button was created on the top right-hand corner of the TownΓÇÖs website. By clicking the Subscribe Button users may choose from multiple email groups. You will be given the option of unsubscribing from one or more email groups at any time. There is also an Update Profile/Email Address link at the bottom of your email in which you can update your email address or change your group subscriptions without having to update this information for each group. Constant Contact provides the Town with eye-catching emails, easy to use interface and allows us to manage our public emails more efficiently. Since introducing Constant Contact in the spring of 2013 we have seen an increase of more than 1,500 subscribers to our email lists.
In July of 2012 we introduced Google Analytics Tracking as the websiteΓÇÖs primary statistical reporting tool. In order to implement this statistical tool, the Google tracking code was inserted into the various sections of our website. Approximately 99 percent our web traffic is now being captured by Google Analytics. Comparing the statistics from 2012 to 2013 we saw a 354% increase in the total visitors to our site. The page views have increased 177% during the same timeframe. Contributing to these statistics is a 24% increase in the number of web pages containing the Google Analytics tracking code. Also the first six months of our statistics last year were based on the average monthly figures we were seeing in the July ΓÇô December 2012 timeframe. This yearΓÇÖs statistics represent a full year of Google Analytics reporting.
The Town of Sudbury continues to update and improve our Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
We implemented a Field Work application for DPW Division Foremen and Crew Leaders. We started the process by meeting with the DPW Staff, PeopleGIS and the IT Department to discuss how the DPW software would be used in the field. Once we identified the needs and uses for the equipment we met with PeopleGIS to diagram the DPW Field ApplicationΓÇÖs workflow process. A pilot DPW Field application was created and an Android tablet with the needed accessories for the pilot program was purchased. We selected the Highway Division to participate in the pilot program. We met with Pat Tarves, the Highway Division Foreman to train him on the new DPW Field software. We then monitored his progress in using the software in the field and made the necessary changes based on his feedback. A final version of the software was introduced to all the DPW Division Foremen and Crew Leaders in a training session in May of 2013. The DPW Foreman and Crew leaders were given Android Tablets with Verizon MiFi devices. They now have access to work orders, email, and documents in the field. They also can use the built-in camera to attach photos to work orders and can use the AndroidΓÇÖs GPS capabilities to locate or define objects in the field
The Information Systems Department continues to upgrade and add new technology to further the goal of ensuring that the Town serves citizens in a timely and efficient manner.