3 priorities for $120M Digital Philadelphia budget: CTO Tommy Jones - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 30, 2011 10:00 am

3 priorities for $120M Digital Philadelphia budget: CTO Tommy Jones

In January, as former city CTO Allan Frank was transitioning out, the Division of Technology was receiving the first portion of the $25 million for the fiscal year. Where will it go?

Digital Philadelphia is the branding for the city’s broad technology vision, as we discussed in detail earlier this month, but the term is also under which Mayor Nutter pledged a five-year $120 million investment in city IT.

In January, as former city CTO Allan Frank was transitioning out, the Division of Technology was receiving the first portion of the $25 million for the fiscal year. Frank told Technically Philly that a sizable chunk of it and the year prior was going to switches, the pieces of technology that connect computers across the city’s network. When Technically Philly spoke to interim CTO Tommy Jones in January, before he became the top dog, he outlined his priorities for the year, which were focused on internal relationships.

What wasn’t included were his priorities for the Digital Philadelphia funding, priorities that largely follow Frank’s path and suggest foundational infrastructure concerns, unlike initiatives to create platforms to share data. That might be why a private partnership like OpenDataPhilly.org may prove so vital.

“Revenue has to come in, so we have been planning for the last six months [of 2010] what to do with the money but not spending a ton of it,” Jones said. “With it coming in, there are a three really big things that will probably be focused on in the next six months.”

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  1. “We’ll start by finishing up the network, making it faster and making it stable by updating switches” — This is the continuation of an initiative launched under his predecessor Frank.
  2. “We need to get our arms around data centers” —  These are the tools that work with switches to move and secure the city’s network. “We have 20 data centers. I have a set of servers that is just a regular PC in a closet somewhere. That’s a data center for us,” Jones said. “I have servers that are running Windows 98. When we discovered some of this, we knew things were rough.”
  3. “We need to truly get the ERP integrated suite of systems” — This isn’t a technology problem, Jones says, but an issue of keeping software and tools updated, integrated across departments, safe, secure and used. this is the most basic stuff, he says, but the city never fully invested in the basics. For his part, as he was leaving, Frank said the city needed between $150 million and $200 million in ‘remedial application refresh.’
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