Chicago's data is beginning its ascension to the cloud. This week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a four-year agreement with Microsoft in an effort to provide the city's 30,000 public employees with a cloud-based email and desktop application solution.
The city, which previously used three separate e-mail systems, will now streamline itself and instead employ a single service which should significantly bolster efficiency and communication. With this new strategy in place, Mayor Emanuel claims that the cost per employee should decrease by a whopping 80%. Though the mayor's office didn't disclose the names of the services it's purchasing from Microsoft, Microsoft Office 365 seems the likely package because it provides all the productivity features the city would need.
This is just another in a series of modernization moves that the city has undertaken. On January 1st, the city merged Chicago Public Libraries and non-emergency public safety IT support into DoIT, which "decreases duplication across departments" and allows "the City to be more effective". There's also a new service request system dubbed Open311, which allows city residents to track requests online.
DoIT expects all public employees who use email and desktop applications will be fully migrated to the cloud by the end of this year. In the interim, they'll receive training to ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible. This sounds like a smart move, and considering how many cities are cash-strapped, we can only hope that others will follow in The Windy City's footsteps.