Town Talk: IT responsibilities

An Information Technology (IT) department is often thought of as the people who fix the computers, and for many employees who use technology in some part of their jobs, that can be the most common way they interact with IT staff.

Truth is, however, that IT does quite a lot more than that. Maintaining the networks, servers, printers, computers, and other technology tools that are used at the City of New Ulm and New Ulm Public Utilities is an important part of the IT department’s role.

As a department, though, we really try hard to be a reliable partner for City and Utility departments to help them deliver their services to residents and customers.

Each department within the City and Utility has a set of technology needs that must be met. The IT department tries to find ways to provide solutions that can be reused among as many departments for efficiency. From phones, to email, to word processing, we help standardize and economize as much as possible. For needs that are unique to a specific department, the IT department works to help them find and use the best tools possible at a reasonable cost.

The IT department also serves as a liaison between departments and technology vendors. When a new tool is being implemented, we know how to talk in technical terms that vendors can understand while being able to communicate plainly so that City and Utility departments can understand. With the many complicated technologies that go into delivering services these days, this helps ensure departments get what they’re expecting and that projects are successful. By being the point of contact for vendors, IT helps save other department staff time and effort.

Cybersecurity is another area that IT takes a lead role in. Although security is the responsibility of everyone within the organization, IT works to help set up policies and procedures, risk controls, and tools to keep data and systems safe. We regularly test our security and backups, and train employees on cybersecurity. There is monitoring that we do on all our systems and IT continues working to find more ways to improve our security. We also report important information to the City Council and Public Utilities Commission so that they are aware of the state of our security and can make the important decisions they’re responsible for.

As a department, IT gets excited to find new ways to tie data systems together. We’re looking for even more opportunities to get information to City and Utility employees in ways that helps them do their jobs better. Whether it’s better maps through a geographic information system (GIS), a mobile solution to do work in the field, or making it easier for the public to communicate with a department, we love to help improve.

Although most of what the IT department does is behind-the-scenes, we stay focused on the mission of serving the City of New Ulm residents and Public Utility customers.

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

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