Stephen Ellis is government solutions lead for Zoom Video Communications. Before joining Zoom, he served in lead technology and risk management roles, working on mission-critical systems in the public sector for Dell Technologies and Deloitte.
Advances in technology have helped state government agencies make remarkable strides in serving the public in recent years. The extraordinary demands to engage with the public during the pandemic, however, forced agencies to put technology to work in new and more innovative ways.
We witnessed that innovation firsthand, helping state and local agencies capitalize on the practical potential of Zoom’s cloud-based, video communications platform. The ability to connect with citizens and collaborate with colleagues virtually provided agencies with a powerful stopgap solution when meeting in person wasn’t an option.
However, public officials and agency employees quickly discovered they could perform many services faster, and reach more people more flexibly, than was possible through traditional in-person meetings. From public and court hearings to applying for licenses to getting telehealth checkups online, real-time online video communications platforms helped state agencies both improve and increase their engagement with the public.
State CIOs also began to recognize the deeper benefits built into Zoom’s government-tailored platform and how in many ways, they align with their “Top 10 IT Priorities” identified in the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) 2021 annual survey. Chief among them:
- Cybersecurity and risk management – In the United States, Zoom offers a separate platform from commercial Zoom, called Zoom for Government, which is designed to conform with federal security requirements. Zoom for Government meets multiple government security standards, including FedRAMP, the Department of Defense’s “Impact Level 2” guidelines, and practices outlined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The investment to achieve those certifications reflects our current and long-term security vision. And it gives CIOs and CISOs added comfort that agency employees can collaborate securely.
- Digital government/digital services – Because commercial Zoom was designed to operate smoothly on mobile smartphones as well as laptops, agencies can extend their digital services to a wider range of constituents, including the socio-economically disadvantaged who may lack high-speed broadband service that older video services typically require.
- Cloud services – Creating Zoom as a cloud-native platform naturally aligns with agencies looking to modernize with cloud services. Together with our telecommunication partners, Zoom has devoted a lot of attention to streamlining purchasing contracts, making it simpler to acquire modern state-of-the-art collaboration and telephony services that are scalable, flexible and affordable.
- Broadband/wireless connectivity – Many state, county and local agencies continue to operate in regions still lacking high-speed connectivity. Zoom’s platform was uniquely developed at the outset to operate across low-bandwidth connections as well as on 5G networks. Whether agencies serve widely dispersed populations or those concentrated in urban corridors, commercial Zoom facilitates communications efficiently and with greater reliability to meet a wide range of demands, like those of fire and rescue teams working in a variety of locations.
- Budget, cost control, fiscal management – CIOs and CISOs must constantly balance the need to rationalize and optimize IT services. Zoom’s commercial platform helps with both by providing integrated single sign-on services, user metrics and simpler account management, including modern identity and access management controls. Those and other features result in a more efficient total cost of operations that help agencies do more with limited budgets.
- Data management and analytics – State CIOs must also oversee how the hardware and software of as many as 100 different vendors are performing on their networks. That requires real-time data, transparency and analytics. Zoom understands why that’s important and provides usage metrics to help CIOs allocate resources and make better planning decisions.
- Consolidation/optimization – The ability to deliver audio, video and text through a single unified communications platform represents a great example of how enterprises can consolidate and optimize their IT resources. Zoom’s cloud-based architecture not only gives CIOs greater flexibility but also helps them achieve greater load balancing and network optimization.
- Identity and access management – The ability for state agencies to support single sign-on is important for improving security. Zoom is committed to partnering with agencies to advance their identity and access management strategies by making it simple to integrate commercial Zoom into commonly available IAM platforms that many state agencies are now deploying.
- Workforce – Zoom’s platform also gives agencies added flexibility to recruit personnel from a wider circle of talent. It positions agencies to attract experienced workers living well beyond traditional commuting distances from agency offices. It opens up opportunities for individuals who are available at non-traditional work hours to better serve the public. And it facilitates more effective cross-agency collaboration, enabling agencies the ability to serve their constituents more efficiently.
- Customer relationship management – Technology provides essential tools for operating in today’s digital world. But for state CIOs, all of these technology priorities still center around a larger mission: to help government better engage with and deliver timely and effective services to the public. The pandemic demonstrated not only how a modern, unified video communications platform helps achieve that. It also provided a new view of how to better manage customer relationships and deliver services more effectively moving into the future.
We are honored at Zoom to have helped play a part in that discovery.
Learn more about how Zoom’s secure video communications solution is helping the public sector reimagine citizen engagement.