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SaaS benefits governments big and small

By Mark Everett Hall
June 1, 2009 12:01 AM ET

Computerworld - With 1.9 million workers on the federal payroll, many U.S. government departments have more employees than there are citizens in the town of Vernon, Conn. Yet the 30,000 people who call Vernon home get the same benefits from SaaS that big government does.

Michael Purcaro, Vernon's emergency management director, says that soon after he took the job, he conducted a test of the town's processes for notifying state and local officials during an emergency. He recalls that using a phone tree system took hours, plus there was a lot of confusion and not everyone was contacted.

Purcaro considered building an emergency notification app, but that would have been "cost-prohibitive," he says. And it would have taken months to roll out.

Instead, Purcaro subscribed to Dell Inc.'s Crisis Management and Alerting Services. The Dell system costs $1 per user per month, and it was working within two weeks.

Purcaro says the town has used the service several times during local emergencies like floods and power outages to relay information to state and municipal crisis managers. "The real value," he says, "is that I can see who has gotten the message and who can respond."

Like officials at larger government agencies, Purcaro appreciates SaaS's economic advantages. "The ROI is incredible," he says.

Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.

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