Abstract image showing a map overlayed on a blur background

Hybrid Cloud Platform

The Hybrid Cloud Platform developed from a need to solve multiple challenges that come from sustaining an expensive and aging centralized compute and storage infrastructure. In addition to keeping up with evolutions in technology, we also recognized an opportunity to evolve how technology is consumed for ITD and the departments which we provide our services. Taking public cloud offerings as a model, the solution was designed so that capacity is “subscribed” directly from our technology partners giving us the ability to scale up or down capacity as demand evolves. In this model, we get to “right-size” the physical footprint, control our costs for the actual amount of technology required, and transfer the responsibility of hardware lifecycle management over to our technology partners. Continuing on the public cloud principal in that a customer can self-service provision their own resources within the cloud, our Hybrid Cloud Platform will accommodate dedicated tenant spaces for departments to self provision and manage as much or as little of any resource as they see fit. The Hybrid Cloud Platform brings all of the conveniences that come with using public cloud infrastructure into the on premises environment.

ITD also takes a “Cloud First” approach when considering technology solutions while also recognizing that there will always be a need for on premises infrastructure. With this in mind, what truly makes this solution “Hybrid” is that through this platform, integrations will exist with public cloud providers so that users can choose to provision resources either on premises, in a public cloud, or any combination in between. Additionally, users of the Hybrid Cloud Platform will have the ability to self-service shift existing workloads from on premises to a public cloud and vice versa. All of these conveniences will be available from a single management console via the Hybrid Cloud Platform so users only need to go to one place to manage their on premises resources as well as their public cloud resources.

TDMA Migration Project

ITD provides support for the East Bay Regional Communication System Authority (EBRCSA) radio system which provides a 2-way radio communication for public safety organizations throughout Alameda County. The EBRCSA network currently is operating at or above expected capabilities, with over 20,000 regular users communicating on the network. To address this, the TDMA Migration Project was started to move all radios to the newer TDMA technology from the legacy FDMA system, which will double the capacity of the system and provide additional capabilities. The TDMA Migration Project is intended to provide EBRCSA Users the ability to access TDMA enabled radios and any necessary upgrades to operate on the impending EBRCSA Phase 2 TDMA Infrastructure.

The objectives of the TDMA Migration Project are as follows:

  • Provide Faster Access to TDMA Radios
  • Provide greater services to our customers
  • Provide ITD Radio Services better control over the EBRCSA radios used by Alameda County and outside agencies

Usage models indicate by doubling the network capacity with the TDMA Migration Project, we will provide current users unparalleled connectivity for the next ten years or more. The TDMA system upgrade will also allow other regional users to join EBRCSA, furthering regional interoperability and providing potential ITD Radio Services opportunities.

Data Center Modernization & Optimization

With Data Center Modernization & Optimization, ITD can quickly and easily respond to meet the ever-evolving demands of the business and consistently deliver a superior customer experience. This will be done by advancing the monitoring and response capabilities through automated alert ticketing, improve power and space management with accurate equipment inventory while simplifying add/moves, reduce environmental cost by incorporating efficient lighting to support a 'lights out' data center model and implementing new cooling parameters. Implementing a cloud based security solution to increase physical monitoring of the Data Center is also included in the plan. The project is expected to implement improvements incrementally over the next 12-18 months.

Microsoft Teams

Alameda County uses Microsoft Teams to chat, meet, and collaborate with internal and external partners. The employees of the County use Teams for project collaboration, staff meetings, crisis management, one-on-one conversations, and much more. While the County has been using Teams before Covid19 the Shelter-in-place for Covid19 has caused a huge uptick in the usage of Teams. See the attachment for the stats.

Assessor Property Assessment & Record Management System

The Assessor and IT Department partnered to re-engineer the system with the goal of increasing productivity and operational agility, reducing use of paper and improving service to the public. This solution has been delivered in incremental releases; the latest releases in 2020 enabled search for the documents from the FileNet imaging system and migrated handling of the Assessments Appeals Board cases to the new system. The project resulted in the development of IMPROVE (Integrated PROperty ValuE system), the most advanced and sophisticated Assessor’s system in California. Alameda County was the first in California to launch a full-featured web-based Assessor system, built in-house by internal resources.

Updated June 2020

 

Security Awareness Training Program

To address the increasing complex and dynamic cybersecurity risk landscape, we have established a security awareness program that includes formal training using an industry leading training system, periodic testing of employee awareness, regular communication to remind county employees of risk to avoid, and security workshops to engage technical and business leaders in the importance of security awareness.

 

Service Desk Chatbot

ITD is developing a Service Desk Chatbot with customized skills integrated with the ticket management system that is capable of voice interaction, displaying information on devices, chat window, and text message communications. The first iteration of the Service Desk Chatbot will allow users to receive ticket status, request for status updates, and create new tickets.

Digital Transformation

The Digital Transformation initiative that was launched by the ITD to fundamentally change how the endpoints are provisioned, configured, deployed, and managed across the County has been a big success. There are multiple projects tied to the Digital Transformation that include:

  • Staying current with the Microsoft Windows 10 rings
  • Upgrading to Office 2016 Pro Plus 365
  • Eliminating GPOs
  • Encrypting devices using Microsoft BitLocker
  • Implementing Multi-Factor authentication for users and admins
  • Migrating user files and department file shares to Microsoft One Drive

To help ensure the County devices are regularly updated and upgraded, ITD employs multiple technologies including over the air update of remote County devices not on the network. Currently, ITD has upgraded 5976 devices. ITD has launched a parallel initiative to encrypt hard disks to protect valuable data on County devices. So far, 6,696 devices have been encrypted using Bitlocker. ITD has rolled out Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) to all employees of the County. ITD is in the process of migrating file content from internal servers to Microsoft OneDrive.

 
 

EITC Online Appointments Scheduler

Since 2002, Alameda County Social Services Agency (SSA) has been providing no-cost IRS certified tax preparation to low- and moderate-income taxpayers. SSA Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) preparers are helping taxpayers receive large tax refunds by claiming the credits they have earned.

The EITC Online Appointments Scheduler Application automates the appointment scheduling process as well as allow taxpayers to search for available appointments online. This empowers taxpayers granting them more flexibilty to schedule appointments when they want and from whereever they are. It also frees up valuable volunteer resources allowing them to focus on completing more tax returns.

 

New Boards & Commissions Salesforce App

The new Boards and Commission application not only gives the Clerk of the Board better tools to fill and monitor the over 650 board positions in Alameda County, but it also provides the members of the Board of Supervisors new insight into which positions are vacant or will need to be filled for their individual districts. The new application integrates with the websites for each individual board or commission, so that any changes to the memberships made in the app are immediately reflected on the websites for each board or commission. And lastly, the Salesforce platform for this new application will allow ITD to efficiently add new features and enhancements to further improve the usefulness of this application by allowing members of the public to submit their applications directly into the system for review and processing.

Implemented October 2017.

 

Property Tax Systems Modernization

A complete overhaul of the in-house Property Tax Systems is under way. ITD developed a roadmap for the migration of the property tax systems from Mainframe to the browser-based modern system. Roadmap was released in Q3 2018. Two projects have been completed in 2019, to modernize and improve the way Alameda County is handling supplemental and secured tax payments. One more project will be delivered in 2020, which will improve the way the County is handing tax payments refunds. The internal process will be significantly improved, and the taxpayers will be able to view the status of their refund claim on the County web site.

Updated June 2020

 

CLETS (CA Law Enforcement telecommunication system) Switch Upgrade

The CLETS switch is the only means of connection of all Alameda County Criminal Justice agencies to the CA Department of Justice Databases, The current version was written over 40 years ago on the mainframe and is no longer supportable. ITD plans to replace it with a new Windows based system that will allow for better connectivity.

An RFP is currently being processed to select a vendor. Proposed implementation by 2019.

 

Open Data Initiative

The Alameda County Data Sharing Initiative provides the public with easy online access to records and information about County business and operations. The Initiative aims to enhance the County’s commitment to transparent government and to encourage civic engagement.

ITD continues to support the initiative by maintaining the County's data sharing website and by hosting community hackathons.

 

IMPROVE.NET

The Alameda County Information Technology Department (ITD) developed the IMPROVE application for the Assessor’s Office, providing a comprehensive solution for tracking and assessing real property in Alameda County. Development of IMPROVE started in 1999. Since then, technology and industry standards have greatly evolved. In order to take advantage of the GIS, imaging, reporting technologies, reduce use of paper and increase the level of automation in the business process, IMPROVE is being converted from the current client-server PowerBuilder platform to the Microsoft .NET technology platform. New IMPROVE is web-based and was the first browser-based full-scale Assessor’s system in California. This will allow for greater flexibility in application development, maintenance and integration with other systems and technologies while increasing Assessor staff productivity, quality of data and services to the public. The team is currently working on upgrading the interface with Assessments Appeals Board and appeals case management module.

Updated April 2019

 

eCRIMS Modernization Project

The eCRIMS modernization project converted all of the mainframe CORPUS green-screen functionality to the web based CRIMS platform. The new system created with the ITD, Superior Court, District Attorney, Sheriff, Probation and the Public Defender working together creates a Criminal Justice Data Hub.

Phase 4, which included integration of Court’s Odyssey system with the various case management systems of the County’s Criminal Justice Partners, was completed July 2016. Currently work is in progress on decommissioning the legacy mainframe systems.

 

Automated Employee On-Boarding System

A major accomplishment in the recruiting area is the implementation of a digital friendly onboarding system called SmartERP. This new system streamlines the process of bringing a new hire onboard by having the prospective employee fill out all the relevant applications, their personal information and all other required new hire information completely online. This eliminates the need for candidates to make a special trip to the job site to fill out and sign stacks of paperwork prior to the hire date. It also allows them to read and certify new hire policies before they even start. All this can be done by the candidate at their own pace and in the comfort of their home. The information then flows into PeopleSoft, reducing the amount of information that needs to be manually entered by the department.

 

Auditor Property Tax Information System (APTIS)

New application replacing the Mainframe system that was originally developed in the 1970s. System allowed Auditor Tax Analysis department to significantly reduce the effort spent on the annual tax rate area updates done by the staff and to improve data quality. New process is designed as 100% paperless, leading to reduced use of paper, as about 5000 sheets of paper were used annually to print the reports in support of the business process. Application was released in May 2015. New addition to APTIS, released in 2017, allows Auditor to automate the process of uploading special assessment information for the 450,000 real properties from all taxing entities in Alameda County.

Voice Modernization Initiative (VMI)

The County has an aging, legacy phone system based on Avaya technology. To support the goal of a more mobile and flexible workforce, the Voice Modernization Initiative (VMI) was initiated to replace the legacy system with a new, cloud-based phone system. In addition to replacing outdated equipment, this project will add key benefits such as the ability to work remotely and accept calls over wireless, cell, or other technologies securely. It allows employees to use mobile phones, laptops, or desk phones to make and receive County calls using their County number. The County is using Microsoft Office 365, which includes Teams to support voice communications and other collaboration functions. Teams is based on a cloud platform that is not tied to a specific geography or device. The VMI solution is expected to drive reduced operational costs and better alignment with accessible infrastructure for mobile and remote workers. This solution supports Alameda County’s current and future needs and is in accord with ACGOV Vision 2026.

Solution Benefits Summary:

  • Supports Mobility, Collaboration and Security
  • Not tied to a specific geography or device
  • Better support for remote work
  • Cloud based solution providing flexibility and lower cost
  • Alignment with ACGOV Vision 2026 Goal of Accessible Infrastructure

Endpoint Detection and Response

As the types of cyber threats become more sophisticated, ITD is implementing an Endpoint Detection and Response tool for all Alameda County endpoint. In addition to addressing traditional anti-virus threats, EDR addresses zero day and fileless attacks and prevents malicious files from being executed using both signatures and behaviors. Potential attacks are monitored and stopped not only through the agent, but through a security operations center 24/7.

Currently, ITD is preparing for the rollout and expects full implementation by the end of 2020.

Pretrial Pilot Project

The 2019-2020 California state budget earmarked $75 million to the Judicial Council of California (JCC) to launch and evaluate two-year pretrial projects in local trial courts. The project’s aim is to increase the safe and efficient release of arrestees before trial; use the least restrictive monitoring practices possible while protecting public safety and ensuring court appearances; validate and expand the use of risk assessment tools; and assess any bias. The JCC selected Alameda County as one of the 16 counties to participate in a 18-month Pretrial Pilot project.

The Alameda County Superior Court, the Alameda County Probation Department, and the Alameda County Sheriff and other police agencies all worked together to create a system that will allow pretrial evaluations, assessments and judicial reviews to happen efficiently. County’s CRIMS (Consolidated Records Information Management System), a consolidated system that is used by all public safety and criminal justice organizations played a crucial role in creating interfaces with Probation’s Tyler Supervision (TS) Case Management System and with Court’s Tyler Odyssey Case Management System, to create a seamless automation.

eDocs

ITD successfully designed and launched a cloud-based application using Salesforce.com to automate the end to end application process used by the Social Services Agency (SSA) In-home Supportive Services Division (IHSS) Social Workers.

Alameda County IHSS division currently processes an average of 6,000 new applications for intake and about 18,000 reassessments annually. The eDocs application is designed to automate many of the manual steps in the intake process. Through integration to various source systems, the application pre-populates the forms needed by the Social Worker. The capability includes an electronic signature by the recipient and digital storage of the signed forms in the enterprise document management system. As a result, the application saves time and has a reduction in data entry errors. The projection for the time savings is estimated between 15 and 30 mins per application. When Phase III is completed in summer 2020, the projected time savings is about 4,000 - 8,000 man-hours yearly.

The eDocs application can generate all the necessary forms in five languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Farsi, and Vietnamese) thereby allowing SSA to serve the recipients of these languages better. Per state-mandate, these documents are digitally signed and emailed to the recipients during home visits thereby eliminating the paper printing and the additional effort for scanning, storing, printing, etc.

 

Perimeter Firewall Security

The legacy firewall appliances were reaching end of life and were not meeting the growth and security requirements of modern technologies. The solution was to collapse existing firewalls and security functionality into a single security platform. This new platform would offer support required throughput, new security features, and centralized administration. Palo Alto Networks (PAN) Next Generation firewalls were selected through a competitive procurement process in 2019.

Migration to the new PAN’s started with our Internet Egress in late 2019, followed by EBP and E-Commerce front-end early in 2020. The last of the zones, E-Commerce back-end, was migrated in June 2020.

We are now able to secure our perimeter in a manner that we would not have been able to before the Palo Alto Networks (PAN) Next-Generation security firewalls. The PAN’s provide:

  • Anti-virus, anti-spyware (command & control) and vulnerability protection
  • Built-in external dynamic lists that secure our network against malicious hosts
  • The ability to identify infected hosts that try to connect to malicious websites
  • Enhanced DNS security
  • URL filtering

All these zones are now managed through a single management console (Panorama).

 

DevOps

ITD is committed to continuous improvement in operational efficiency. We have been working on streamlining internal operations and implementing automation for internal processes using DevOps methodology. Using various development tools, developers automate deployment and testing of the in-house applications. This effort leads to an increase in quality of our in-house applications, reduced implementation time and improved communications with the customers and other teams within the department.

 
 

Tech Reuse

Under the guidance of the Board of Supervisors, we in partnership with TechExchange donate refurbished computers that are distributed to local schools, communities, and non-profit organizations. The cool thing about this program is the processes that were developed in partnership with TechExchange to manage the supply chain, digital data erasure and distribution of computer assets on an ongoing basis.

 

New Elections Website - acvote.org

Just in time for the 2018 elections, ITD partnered with the Registrar of Voters (ROV) to roll out a new eye-catching, mobile responsive, and user-friendly website in February. The Official Election Site of Alameda County was designed and developed with the goal of making information most commonly sought by voters easy to find.

With both offices headed by Chief Information Officer/Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis, it makes sense that the new website would showcase compelling new features that are taking hold with many of Alameda County’s online destinations. These features include informative video content, streamlined text menus, and a prominent search feature. The new website also makes great strides in serving Alameda County’s diverse population, with detailed information in five languages to help voters.

Streamlining the website was ROV's number one objective when the redesign project began more than a year ago. The site was built within the County's enterprise web content management system that allows authorized personnel in the Registrar’s office to easily update information as election cycles change eliminating the need for technical assistance.

With the June and November elections coming up, voters will have ample time to become familiar with the new website and features for the big 2020 Presidential cycle in 2 years.

Implemented February 2018.

 

Adopt-A-Family Holiday Gift Program

SSA manages Adopt-A-Family program during holiday season. ITD developed an application to support the management of the program. Some highlights include an admin area that allows site coordinators to better track gifts. There was also a lookup feature that auto-populated recipient data for staff. These features and others allowed SSA staff to process donations quicker and more efficiently.

 

Upgrade of HRMS, Financial – ERP System

In March of 2019 we successfully completed upgrade of our PeopleSoft Financial system to the latest delivered version of PeopleTools 8.56 and PUM 29. As before, this upgrade was achieved completely by in-house staff. The upgrade was flawless. County vendors are able to use the latest version, called FLUID version for bidding on any County Projects.

In August of 2019 we will be upgrading our PeopleSoft HR and Payroll system to the latest delivered version of PeopleTools 8.56 and PUM 28. New upgrade system will be current with the latest delivered version by Oracle.

Updated April 2019

 

Emergency Tracking System

County of Alameda played a significant role in helping battle the October 2017 destructive wildfires that occurred in Northern California. Various county agencies were involved in providing staff and coordination for Fire and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Emergency, Public Health and Medical Mutual Aid services. ITD created this cross-collaboration tool, which allowed agencies to add resources, time, and cost information for services provided to tackle destructive and widespread wildfires in Napa and Sonoma Counties. This summary information could then be easily reviewed by Department Heads, CAO and the Board of supervisors.

Implemented in October 2017.

 

New Acgov.org Website

The County has adopted a “mobile first” design philosophy and is applying it to all new websites including the redesigned ACGOV.org, allowing the site to be viewed on any desktop or mobile device. Using a minimalist approach, the usual navigation bars were removed and the search bar emphasized. The search functionality provides various filters and suggested keywords to aid locating the content faster. For those users who still like to click through a site, key links were added through out to help the user locate important and highly visited pages. This new search-centric implementation provides the public the opportunity to easily locate County services and information without the need in understanding government hierarchy. ITD will continue to improve and enhance the site with the user experience in mind.

 

New Cash Issuance Process

CalWIN (Online system used by 18 California counties) supports the administration of public assistance programs such as CalWORKS, CalFresh, MediCal, General Assistance, Foster Care etc., and it pays these benefits to individuals in the form of Warrants, Checks, EFT and EBT. Out of these, our County processes the Warrants, Checks and EFT so the individuals in our county are being paid timely. The current system is being processed by Mainframe through its scheduler, Zeke and also using DSeries to transfer files to SFTP (which Mainframe cannot) to Union Bank for fulfilling the payments. New system was rewritten completely using Microsoft .NET technologies and the process is scheduled through DSeries. The scheduler runs daily, weekly, monthly as well on demand for COLA payments.

 

Workload Distribution Tool (WDT)

We developed the Workload Distribution Tool (WDT) for the Social Services Agency (SSA). The WDT application continuously pulls vital information from case management systems and distributes work evenly to workers based on their availability. This will allow for SSA to efficiently manage actions on cases timely. The tool will also enable management the ability to monitor and keep track of critical case actions.

 

Central Collections Electronic Statements

Saving the County the costs of producing Central Collection Statements on paper and the associated costs of mailing, is the goal of this project. Clients will be able to opt in to receive a monthly email instead of receiving a paper statement in the mail. The email to the client will contain a link to the County website for credit card payment or payment by check. If check is preferred a payment stub can be printed from the website to include with the clients payment.

Implemented March 2015.

 

Implement the Countywide Efficiency Initiative

The initiative seeks to improve the County's efficiency through process re-engineering and implementing new technologies.

For 2016: ITD is continuing to build new imaging applications to reduce paper and improve workflow. We will also be implementing an enterprise eSignature and eForms solution as a tool in reducing paper and streamlining business processes. And we are promoting the use of video conferencing supporting the Climate Initiative.