County Government Case Study: Cuming County, Nebraska

Services

Case Study

In early 2020, Lisa Hunke accepted a part-time position as the Information Technology Coordinator of the Cuming County Courthouse in West Point, Nebraska. Almost immediately upon assuming the position, she and rest of the team realized their IT systems and cyber security posture faced some serious vulnerabilities. 

 

 

Along with a small team of fellow officials, Hunke was moved to reach out to Applied Connective Technologies on a referral from another Nebraska county customer who expressed that they had been thrilled with service. They also requested information and quotes from a handful of other managed technology services providers (MTSPs) as well, expecting to compare and select the most qualified and fitting team to accommodate their needs and their budget. 

 

Suddenly, the pandemic hit.

 

 

With the rest of the world, Cuming County tried to calculate their next move to continue operations while prioritizing safety and public health. Hunke remarked that with the onset of Covid came a pivotal point in their decision-making process. Hunke states she was impressed that, without hearing a final decision, Applied Connective’s company president Ed Knott reached out to Hunke personally to offer to help them transition to a secure work-from-home environment should the need arise.

 

 

They took him up on his offer. 

 

 

Within days, each and every Cuming County employee was set up with a workstation and all necessary and appropriate technology solution to continue their work remotely (and securely) without skipping a beat.

 

According to Hunke, that experience sealed the deal for Cuming County and their trust in Applied Connective. Shortly thereafter, the decision to commit to partnering exclusively with Applied Connective was finalized.

 

 

PARTNERSHIP

Quickly, they began to understand the magnitude of their vulnerability as Applied Connective’s IT experts explained the imminent threats that loomed. No longer a question of “if” but “when.” It was during these conversations that Hunke noticed something different about the Applied Connective approach: They were taking the time to truly understand the needs of the people so they could make informed and intentional decisions about the technology that would best support them. Understanding that change is often met with resistance, she appreciated Applied Connective’s patience, humanity, and kindness in the midst of all this technical jargon.

“Many of our employees are older or have simply been here for years and years and struggled to see the need for any changes in how we get from one day to the next,” remarked Hunke. “Ed, Will, and the whole team were patient with us, thorough in explaining the benefits, and extremely efficient and strategic so that the transition was smooth and there was a focus on streamlining for ease and simplicity…and on education so that we would be empowered with knowledge moving forward.”

As Applied Connective’s leaders assessed the needs of the county government offices, a few areas were identified as being in most urgent need of attention.

 

 

Each office on their own internet connections.

  • The issue: Every government office had taken care of their own Internet connection – some of them were secure, some were not. Most importantly, they were all paying their own Internet bill which added up to a lot. Any sharing of Wifi security with guests could compromise security of their network.
  • The solution: Consolidate into one fiber internet connection to support all offices in their county government to provide them:
    • Significant cost savings
    • One bill to manage
    • And one system to drastically simplify as well as to minimize the threat of cyber security breaches secure from multiple networks
  • The result: By securely consolidating the networks, all offices enjoyed a far superior internet usage experience, far greater security, and collectively, the courthouse saved money. They now sleep easier with confidence that their systems and data are being protected from ever-evolving and -increasing cyber security threats thanks to a central managed firewall. Plus, when a guest comes into their building and needs to use their internet, a guest network is used to allow secure, segregated access—protecting both the guest and the county government.

 

Each office had their own independent phone system.

  • The issue: Every department in the county office had their own phone system (likely purchased thoughtlessly from Amazon or Target). This was unnecessarily excessive, expensive, and inefficient. They lacked many basic office functions, like the ability to transfer between departments, receive voicemails, etc.
  • The solution: Applied Connective sat down with each county government office to assess what they had, what they liked, and what they wished could happen with their phone systems. Then they provided a centralized modern phone system that was the best option to support their needs.
  • The result: There was significant cost savings on the phone bills, but more importantly, they were upgraded to a much more efficient, intuitive, and modern system. Applied Connective sat with each department to ensure they understood the new equipment and how to use it to its fullest potential.

Many offices were operating with a free email account, which left their accounts vulnerable.

  • The issue: Many government officials were operating with a free email account that offered minimal security, leaving important data susceptible to security breaches, such as credential compromise and phishing.
  • The solution: County governments are able to utilize .gov email addresses that are more secure. Applied Connective migrated all divisions emails and set up their systems in Microsoft 365 to ensure better collaboration and email security. They then trained staff to use the systems and enabled MFA (multi-factor authentication).
  • The result: Far more secure systems that allows for peace of mind and compliance with the State of Nebraska and cyber insurance requirements.,

Conclusion

Many county governments across the state of Nebraska operate on clunky, outdated systems that leave vulnerable the data of their residents, people, and employees. Often, they don’t realize how vulnerable they are until it’s too late, and breaches can be devastating. Understandably, many offices find state and federal government compliance measures to be overwhelming to navigate. Partnering with nearly 40 Nebraska county governments now, Applied Connective understands what a county government needs to be secure and efficient, operating seamlessly and cost-effectively together.

 

 

Applied Connective goes the extra mile to build a custom solution that meets county governments where they’re at and makes a plan to help them move in a better direction with state-of-the-art but simple-to-use solutions. 

 

 

Knowledge is power. If you’re unsure where to start, Applied Connective offers a free, no-obligation technology consultation and would be happy to attend your next county board meeting to discuss and share recommendations. The majority of our county government clients invite us to their board meetings to ensure they are up to date on state and federal regulations and to develop plans for integrating changes locally.

Mason Uhing

IT Support Specialist

Faith Nunn

IT Support Specialist

Kara Frey

Administrative Assistant

Brandi Feldmann

IT Support Specialist

“Lakeview Community Schools has enjoyed our partnership with Applied Connective. They have been incredibly responsive, knowledgeable, and cooperative as we have worked together. Applied Connective has provided a team-like atmosphere in their service!”

Aaron Plas, Superintendent

Lakeview Community Schools

“We have been very pleased with their communication, efficiency, and customer service over the course of the last few years. We would highly recommend ACT to any other schools out there looking for a reliable partner for your technology needs.”

Brandon Detlefsen, Technology Director

Central City Public Schools

“Their service is always reliable and timely, and the staff are very knowledgeable and friendly. Our needs are their #1 priority! Boone Central is beyond grateful to have top-of-the line technology services and customer support.”

Nicole Hardwick, Superintendent

Boone Central Public Schools

“They’ve been with us every step of the way as we implemented phone systems, security cameras, and keypad doors. Their customer service is second to none, and their business knowledge is outstanding.”

Ronda Weber, Technology Coordinator

Burwell Public School

Applied Connective did an amazing job with our school security cameras. They were very professional and easy to work with. [They’re] patient with our questions and quickly respond when we need some direction. The cameras work great and are very easy to access. Thank you for a job well done!”

Amy Sokol, Principal

St. Anthony's School

Lance Bain

AVS Technician

Brigitte Burbach

HR & Operations Manager

Clay Anderson

WISP Technician

In my current role as WISP Technician I’m responsible for the network and infrastructure around the Columbus area and the quality of service provided to our customers therein.

Brandon Petersen

Relationship Manager & IT Engineer

Relationship Manager/IT Engineer – I work side by side with our clients to ensure they are receiving the best value from our products and services, offer insights to improve their workflows, and resolve any issues that may arise as fast as possible.

Logan Niewohner

Administrative and Marketing Assistant

My role here as of now includes helping in the administrative & marketing departments. I’ll be helping answer calls, assisting with simple IT questions for customers, coordinating marketing tasks, and more.

Justin Borgmann

Level 1 IT Technician

As a level 1 IT Technician, I assist customers in their daily IT needs, and respond to any issues that may arise.

Bryce Molt

Level 1 IT Technician

As a Level 1 IT Technician, I provide general help desk support for clients.

Michael Briseño

Level 1 IT Technician

As a level 1 IT Technician, I provide general desktop and printer support for clients. I ensure computer systems are running smoothly by diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining hardware and software components.

Weston Ray

General Technician

My role as a general technician at Applied Connective involves the installation of video surveillance, security, Internet, and phones, along with pathways and running cables just to name a few of our many duties.

Casey Schalk

AVS Technician

My role as a general technician at Applied Connective is primarily to work with the AVS crew to install and configure surveillance, internet, security, and voice technologies.

Grady Higgins

Level 1 IT Technician

I assist customers with IT-related problems by answering questions on the helpdesk and working with customers to resolve the problems they have. I also assist advanced technicians with tasks for experience and faster project completion.

Eric Beckman

AVS Technician

My role as a general technician at Applied Connective is primarily to work with the AVS crew to install and configure surveillance, security, Internet, and voice technologies.

Kris Wright

General Technician

My role as General Technician includes installation and troubleshooting of door access and camera security systems.

Mikki Mangus

General Accountant

Some of my duties as General Accountant include payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable and reconciliation. I am happy that I am part of the Applied Connective Team.

Heidi Kahlo

IT Technician

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Oscar Bonilla

Level 1 IT Technician

As a Level 1 IT Tech, I do some IT work for businesses, such as setting up computers on a domain.

Eric Petsche

General Technician

My role as a general technician at Applied Connective is primarily to work with the AVS crew to install and configure surveillance, security, Internet, and voice technologies.

Kelsi Havlovic

IT Technician

I am a Level 1 IT Technician at Applied Connective, so my role is to perform a variety of IT-related duties to different customers.

Chase Thieman

AVS Technician

My role as an AVS technician at Applied Connective is to work with the AVS team to install and configure surveillance, security, internet, and voice technologies.

Cody Banzhaf

IT Systems Engineer

As an IT Systems Engineer, my job is to evaluate, monitor, and enhance IT infrastructure with an emphasis on availability, reliability, scalability, security, data confidentiality, and system integrity.

Eric Henn

Voice Technician

My job is to do whatever Ed tells me to. Just kidding…sort of. I am part of the voice group.

Alex Herstedt

Telecom / IT Technician

As a Telecom/IT Technician, I work with traditional and hosted phone systems.

Scott Whaley

Level 1 IT Technician

I’m part of the IT team at Applied Connective, so my days are spent setting up new PCs for customers; troubleshooting broken PCs, printers, etc., and installing new hardware.  

Colton Mazour WISP Manager

Jessi Larson

Creative & Marketing

My work centers on creative content development and marketing—design, copywriting, website management, and social media as well as coordinating philanthropy efforts.

Curt Hart

IT Technician

My role here at Applied Connective is to provide support to our customers by diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining hardware and software components to ensure the smooth and secure operation of computer network systems.

Matt Childress

Level 2 IT Technician

I am a level 1 tech here at Applied Connective, so I perform a variety of IT-related duties. 

Sara Rasmussen

IT Service Manager

Nathan Niewohner

IT Project Manager

Justin Niewohner

AVS Project Manager

I install surveillance, security, Internet, phone, and audio systems to fit our customers’ needs.

Ryan Robinson

AVS Service Technician

I provide and coordinate technical services and support for infrastructure, access control, surveillance, and audio/video solutions.

Jarod Dendinger

Business Development

My role here at Applied Connective centers on business development, so that involves assisting our team in focusing on value-added processes as well as leveraging technology to provide solutions for our business partners that support them in continued success and growth.

Will Zoucha

Voice Manager

My duties as Voice Manager include the sales, service, and consultation of all things voice-related, along with the management of the voice department.

Ed Knott

President

As President at Applied Connective, I am responsible for organizational direction and general oversight of all product/service areas.