London, the capital city of the UK, recently implemented a brand-new cloud management system, transferring all of the Greater London Authority (GLA)’s incident reporting and control system into the cloud.
Sheffield-based IT firm Xactium was selected by London’s governing body to provide the SaaS (Software as a Service) functionality. Xactium CEO Andy Evans explained that SaaS meant “you have no silos of information…if you…look at a particular incident, then everything to do with that incident is collected there.” This promises to speed up emergency service response times to fires, incidents of crime and more ancillary events such as severe congestion and road closures.
Xactium said that effective cloud management was key to their selection as SaaS providers to the GLA. “We are not a huge company,” said Evans, “but we have been able to hit way above our weight because we are using a cloud infrastructure that has all those things built in.” The infrastructure to which he is referring is the Force.com cloud platform, which powers other SaaS providers’ solutions, such as the ubiquitous SalesForce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
The Intellectual Property to Xactium Incident Manager – the custom-written software in question – belongs to Xactium themselves, and is licensed to the GLA at $800 per user per annum. The GLA insists it is money well spent, touting “effective incident management” and “reporting across several service areas” as among the benefits to deploying the system.
London is by no means the first city to transfer its processes to the Cloud. Washington D.C. sparked cloud adoption across the whole U.S. back in 2008, when CTO Vivek Kundra (now federal government’s CIO) rolled out Google Business Apps across the entire council workforce – some 38,000 employees – saving over $3.5 million in infrastructure and efficiency costs. The City of Orlando in Florida followed suit in 2009, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced an executive order to transition New York’s incident management systems to the Cloud, saving a claimed $50 million. Buda (Texas), Miami and Minnesota are all making the move, too. Many companies, as well, are realizing the benefits that cloud management systems provide.
So what does this mean on-the-ground? First up, there’s better integration with mobile applications. Cloud-based systems are designed to play nice with browsers or specific native applications. This means less downtime, a better User Experience (UX), and a more coherent (and efficient) workflow. For managers, it means less sifting through data and more incident regulation. The system increases clarity of vision by imposing systems on the complexity of incident reporting and management. These systems cut to the core information, and serve up decision-friendly data analysis. That means faster response to incidents, less deliberation, and more accurate incident recovery proposals.