Three ways the cloud helps Oakland function smarter, faster and cheaper



If the explosion of data hasn’t reached your city yet, it will soon. Cities are generating more data than ever, raising questions about how to store and process it all — and keep it secure. And Oakland is a great example of why more cities are looking to the cloud.

Oracle, a Council Global Lead Partner, has helped Oakland make the transition to the cloud from old legacy systems. While that work is still under way, as you’ll see below, the early progress has been encouraging. — Kevin Ebi

1. You can get started quickly
Oakland started with part of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and once it decided to jump to the cloud, it had just six months to complete that migration before the next budget cycle started. The switch was a success since the IT staff wasn’t burdened with buying new hardware or acquiring software. Staff could immediately focus on Oakland’s applications and processes.

2. City staff can do more for themselves, saving time
Oakland found that the cloud migration immediately made its staff more effective. First, they found the interface for the cloud-based applications much more intuitive, significantly reducing the number of calls to the help desk.

But they also spend much less time waiting for the data they need to do their jobs. Under the old system, it was the responsibility of the IT department to create reports — a process that often took weeks. Online tools let staff generate most reports for themselves — even custom reports — so they get their answers today.

3. The city becomes more transparent
The desire to become more transparent was what initially drove the city’s interest in the cloud. The first phase involves sharing more information in a more timely manner with city leadership, but there’s a significant benefit to the public too.

The city gets a number of public information requests each year for its budget data. The same tool that lets the city share information internally will also let the public get access to the most-requested data instantly — and without having to file a formal request.

What’s next?
The ERP system was just the beginning. The city has already invested in a web-based tool to handle public access to information, such as applications and documentation related to business tax licenses, building permits, and housing.

With the data in the cloud, however, mobile apps also become a possibility. The city is looking into that to provide police officers with information that they could use to help serve the public better.