As published in the Record Journal Wednesday May 22, 2013
By Dan Brechlin
MERIDEN — The city made a move last year that an increasing number of municipalities and even state governments are making when it changed the way its email system is run.
The city switched its email platform to Google Apps, said Management Information Systems Director Steve Montemurro. The switch has been beneficial in time and fiscal management, Montemurro said, noting that the previous system was used primarily for email.
“We are always evaluating (information technology) infrastructure in order to increase efficiencies and to make everything more effective and reduce costs,” Montemurro said. “If I look at all of the features and weigh them, we made a smart decision using Google.”
In addition to allowing city employees to send emails, as the old Lotus Notes platform did, Google allows employees to share documents and files as needed. Specific employees can view and edit documents in the “cloud,” a system of shared computer resources accessed remotely over the Internet or through a computer network.
City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior said retaining documents is important because of the city’s role as a government entity. He added that Google Apps makes it easier to keep records and documents in one shared location.
The email system was put out to bid more than a year ago, with the city hearing back from three systems: Lotus SmartCloud, Google Apps and Microsoft Exchange, Montemurro said. While there was not much of a difference in price, Montemurro said significant savings accrue when members of his department do not have to spend time dealing with technical issues.
“It definitely helps people become more efficient workers, as well as smarter workers,” he said.
Montemurro used the example of Personnel Director Caroline Beitman, who often has several meetings a week. Workers in her office can schedule meetings through one calendar and Beitman can access the calendar from her computer or smart phone.
The Personnel Department could soon use another feature on Google Apps: video conferencing for the interviewing of job applicants from out of state.
Forty-five state governments are now using Google Apps, according to Google. Numerous municipalities have also made the transition, including Boston, which announced its decision two weeks ago.