Across the U.S., government agencies of all sizes and descriptions have likely had to change course rapidly throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic. In many cases, they may not have had the IT infrastructure to handle so many people working remotely during the lockdown, and even those with at least some measures in place likely found them strained.
For instance, Loudoun County, Virginia, was initially ready to handle about 500 municipal employees working from home in the event of, say, a snow day, according to Government Computer News. Instead, it had about 3,500 people forced to work from home in short order, and thus had to scale up quickly.
How they did it
First and foremost, the county's IT team was able to take its existing infrastructure and scale it up in just a matter of days, while also adopting a new document management platform that allowed for digital signatures and collaboration so that leaders could literally sign off on all the changes that needed to be made, the report said. Other municipal governments – like Davenport, Iowa's – also relied on virtual desktops that allowed remote workers to pull up all the information on their work computers still sitting in empty offices.
A long-term issue
With the pandemic still ongoing – and, in fact, worsening in many parts of the country – there is a real concern about how schools and other public organizations will handle return-to-work efforts, and how much is really feasible from both a technical logistics standpoint and one of health and safety, according to Inside Higher Ed. The need for students to stay home and learn remotely as the 2020-21 academic year begins could end up being a very real challenge for local governments and even major universities, and it's one all involved will have to monitor closely to assess their tech needs.
No matter what the outcome of these issues ends up being, having the right tech infrastructure in place – including document management systems that allow users to create workflows, enable collaboration and otherwise make everyone's lives easier – is a must. Getting a jump on these issues now could ease the transition a few months down the line.