County Government Case Study: Cuming County, Nebraska
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.
Quickly, they began to understand the magnitude of their vulnerability as Applied Connective’s IT experts explained the imminent threats that loomed—it was 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 technologies that would best support them. Understanding that change is often met with resistance, she appreciated Applied Connective’s patience 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 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 allow for peace of mind and compliance with the State of Nebraska and cyber insurance requirements.,
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.