Sumner Takes on Tech to Transition to Remote-Workforce During COVID-19 – GeekWire

Modern cities like Sumner, Wash. run just like businesses. Similar to private companies, the city’s technology department keeps an eye on budgetary constraints, aims to improve employees’ quality of life, focuses on satisfying constituents and works toward common, predetermined goals every month, quarter and year.

We also face many of the same challenges that impact private business IT teams— and earlier this year that meant the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations everywhere were suddenly confronted with a grim new reality that entailed, among other precautions, shifting to remote-work environments — in many cases, almost overnight.

The City of Sumner was one of these organizations. Located east of Tacoma and south of Seattle, our city of approximately 10,000 residents prides itself on retaining its small-town charm while setting a standard of excellence as a progressive and modern municipality. As the COVID-19 outbreak worsened, our municipal leaders made the decision to shift the majority of the city’s workforce to a work-from-home environment — but this swift transition required rethinking how the city would support its remote workforce.

The city originally used slower internet that met our basic needs, but as we grew and our workforce expanded, our connectivity needs did as well. Our prior Internet service simply was not fast enough. Sumner selected Comcast Business Internet in 2006 as redundancy for our existing service; and became so confident in the stability of the new Comcast connection, we dropped our other service and relied solely on Comcast Business after 2008. 

Sumner’s Comcast Business connectivity was more than adequate for our day-to-day, in-office needs — until March 2020. As the COVID-19 outbreak grew more serious, the city moved most of our employees to a remote-work environment. This led to the realization that our data connection did not have the speed requirements for remote workers that needed to access documents remotely, use videoconferencing software full-time, service citizen requests remotely, and more.  

We urgently needed to increase bandwidth and capacity to ensure more stability with the increased volume of video conferencing. We also wanted to keep our distributed workforce productive and serving the public and contacted Comcast Business to quickly get enhanced service up and running.

We expected it could take some time to get everything up and running for our new remote workforce, but Comcast Business pushed it through without any snags. Within days of our service request, we upgraded the data connection speed from 150/20 Mbps to 600/35 Mbps, giving our city’s broadband service a big bandwidth boost.

This connection upgrade gave Sumner the increased capacity and high-performance connectivity we needed to support our employees’ needs during the ongoing remote-work shift, including allowing their administration and legal departments remote access to documentation and permit issuing resources.

With Comcast Business providing the connectivity backbone for our distributed workforce, the City of Sumner has stayed up and running through the pandemic and we were able to handle nearly every major function of operations digitally. The mayor, city council members and staff experienced successful video-conference public meetings, including city council meetings, study sessions and planning commissions, allowing city employees to safely conduct municipal business without the health risk of coming to City Hall in person. And, our city staff is now able to work remotely while continuing to provide the residents of Sumner with the same high level of service as before. This increased capacity more than satisfied our new requirements.

Residents now enjoy new ways to make requests of various municipal service departments while remaining socially distanced: With all requests and forms now web-based and online, the public can access the same city services from the safety of their homes, without having to come to City Hall in person.

“Sumner is just one organization that has benefited from Comcast Business’ continuous goal of improving our network for customers,” says Rob Brenner, Vice President of Comcast Business in Washington. “Throughout the sustained COVID-19 surge, the Comcast Business network continues to deliver reliable speeds across the country, even in areas that were most dramatically affected. In March and April 2020, our network teams made network enhancements to help ensure customers’ service remained fast and reliable.”

To learn more about Comcast Business in the Seattle area visit: https://business.comcast.com/local/washington/seattle

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Author: HOCAdmin