Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Creating a More Efficient City : How Columbia Uses Box

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As you may have heard, a few members of the Box team made the trek to the Midwest last week to visit the winners of the Box Mobile Giveaway – the city government of Columbia, MO. We chatted with employees and came back with some great insights about how government organizations are boosting efficiency, improving processes and better protecting citizens with the cloud. Here’s a quick look at how Columbia’s different departments are making their city more efficient with Box and Samsung Galaxy Tabs.

Neighborhood Resources

This department is responsible for enforcing building codes and standards throughout the different neighborhoods in Columbia. We spoke the Neighborhood Resources Coordinator about how he uses Box on the go. He walks around the town on regular routes looking for code violations – for example, peeling paint, broken windows – and uses his Galaxy Tab to take pictures of any potential violations. He then uses Box for Android to upload them to a folder where his colleagues can see photos and leave comments.

“Box enhances our ability to communicate in our team; it speeds everything up.” – Neighborhood Resources Coordinator

Water & Light

These folks run almost all the utilities for The City of Columbia. Currently, they keep detailed circuit schematics on Box to use as reference in their mobile workshop. The Communications Technician Supervisor loved having unlimited storage, and he pointed out that using email notifications makes his team feel connected and in sync.

“Soon, I hope to replace all these binders of books with PDF files on Box.” – Communications Technician Supervisor

IT

Robert Simms, the Director of IT, was a huge fan of Box right off the bat. His goals were to make it easy for mobile workers to stay out in the field longer, easily provide up-to-date content to city officials, and eliminate the duplication of content.  As an IT director, one of his biggest concerns was security, and he felt confident that Box’s admin and security features would keep his team’s critical information safe.

“ What advice do I have for other government organizations? Get away from your paperbound world – get more efficient. Your citizens are paying for your services.” – Robert Simms, Director of IT

Fire Department

When we spoke with Columbia’s Lieutenant Fire Marshal, he pulled up the code book of fire hazards on Box with his tablet.  He believes that in the future, his team will put blueprints and floor plans of city buildings on Box so firefighters have that information before they enter a burning building – making it safer for both city employees and the citizens they protect.

“Box isn’t just a time-saver; its ability to deliver critical information to our guys in the field in real-time means it has the potential to save lives, too.” – Lieutenant Fire Marshal

Law Enforcement

We talked to the Accreditation Manager at the police department, whose job is to train officers on all the rules and laws they need to enforce. He kept his training, lesson plans, and reference materials in Box and uses the tablet in class as a prompt. He hopes to add even more reference information to Box soon, which will make it easy for officers in the field to check policies and procedures.

The City of Columbia is using Box across a bunch of different departments now, and hopes to expand to even more in the future. It was really exciting to meet with a city government so willing to embrace technology and new, more efficient ways of working. I’d like to extend a big thanks to the City of Columbia team for being so friendly and welcoming during our stay in their city. We plan on hearing even more from them in the future, so keep an eye out for more posts and a video.