By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – In an unprecedented and much-needed overhaul and upgrade of the city’s information technology and processes, Mayor Abdullah Hammoud promised to transform the city’s service delivery and to eliminate language barriers.
During a Jan. 5 mayoral briefing to the City Council, Hammoud said that currently, residents find some services inaccessible due to in-person requirements and language barriers, an inability to know where to go in the city to get answers, a lack of transparency about city service expectations and delays in helping residents solve problems.
He said employees need better email and emergency alert access, adding that the paper-driven workflow slows down processes, hampers timely service delivery and makes it difficult to measure outcomes.
Hammoud said a disconnect between the online applications and systems employees use in different departments makes it cumbersome to share data, and inadequate security and outmoded technology infrastructure creates too much downtime, making it harder for city workers to do their jobs.
He said that businesses are negatively impacted as well, since the paper-driven processes in the city delay requests for permits, plan reviews and other needs.
Hammoud said access needs to be 24/7, not just weekdays during business hours. He said the limited hours cause transaction friction and increases the cost of doing business with the city.
He said businesses should be able to go online to see at what step their paperwork is in application processes.
Hammoud said businesses need better communication from city employees, so they understand processes and know where to get the information they need.
The mayor said city data is stored in multiple locations — on paper and online — which makes it difficult to merge the information in a timely and effective manner. He said it makes it hard to quickly extract data and hinders the ability to get quick data turnaround.
Hammoud said that city employees are also hampered because they are using multiple online tools acquired over the decades, and many are not compatible with other systems. Some programs have been adapted to work with other systems, but not in an efficient or effective manner.
He said the solution will include improving information technology infrastructure to enhance both reliability and cyber security.
Hammoud said improved enterprise resource planning for city financial functions and assessment is needed, as well as staffing to support the improved and upgraded information technology.
He said the city website needs to be more accessible, transparent and customer driven, with Arabic translation where most beneficial.
In addition, the migration of documents to the Goggle Cloud platform will make access to information more connected and flexible.
Hammoud said the total cost — more than $8.6 million — is 76 percent one-time fees and 24 percent ongoing costs. Updating the city website will cost $2.4 million. Cloud access and migration represents the largest component of the ongoing cost, with Goggle Workspace business applications being the second largest component.
The mayor said the outcome will provide 24/7 city operations, with a robust call center with virtual agents.
He said the city’s website will be mobile friendly, with access to real-time resources, and information translated into Arabic.
Hammoud said the city will have a new enterprise resources planning system, as well as improved cyber-security and significant risk reduction. He said the technology will be chosen to support employee needs, and will significantly improve their ability to access and use data for reporting purposes.
Based on the experiences of other cities, Hammoud said manual paper processing time will be cut in half and customers will see an increase in service hours. The city’s cyber risk profile will also be reduced.
The mayor said that in the future, Dearborn’s government will be more responsive with its new tools and technology, which will have a positive impact on the city’s business environment.
The shared data and online platforms will allow city teams to work better together, and all departments will have better access to the data they need, in one virtual location.
A more secure cyber platform will also provide secure constituent and stakeholder security.
Hammoud said that Dearborn is doing what no other nearby city is doing, and it is just the right size to be able to make the upgrades and improvements occur to deliver a data-driven city with an enormous positive impact.