News Column

Social Media Meets Gov't Asset Management

May 6, 2013
government social media

The rising popularity of social media use in government may be inspiring agencies to share data and communicate through an internal social channel that resembles such sites as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but maintains a different level of security for private and internal use.

Take the Des Moines, Iowa, Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority, which this year launched Infor Ming.le -- an online social collaboration tool that Bill Miller, the authority's risk and reliability manager, said will eventually connect nearly 100 of the agency's employees to one another.

The authority, which oversees wastewater treatment, is responsible for tracking enterprise assets and other inventory, and has faced challenges when its employees need to communicate and track the various updates on the assets it oversees.

Since the new platform streamlines communication across the authority's multiple -- and previously siloed -- divisions, Miller said communication among these different groups has improved. The platform centralizes information that must be readily available to all authority employees, and much like Facebook, users can access a "news feed" to see work-related updates other employees are posting.

After creating a username and password, Miller said the authority's employees are in the system and can access such information as photos, standard operating procedures, the authority's mandatory safety and training videos, and material safety data sheets.

Similar to Twitter's platform, users can see what's "trending" on Ming.le, and data on the platform can be generated into graphs. Also, data is created from the social platform's use; as users interact on Ming.le, a map or "business social graph" of the relationships created between the employees and business objects is generated, according to Infor.

Because the data and communication exchanges can be hosted on the same platform, Miller said the number of in-person meetings has drastically reduced. And since the communication is more streamlined, he said he's also seen a reduction in the number of regular email exchanges.

"By being able to share mass communications with each other in different groups throughout the organization," Miller said, "I have a goal of absolutely elimination 50 percent of the meetings I have to go to all the time."

Going forward, Miller said the wastewater authority plans to integrate its existing Infor platforms with Ming.le with the assistance of Intelligent Open Network, Infor's software integration platform. From there, he said the authority plans to integrate its existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, its asset sustainability platform and energy consumption monitoring modules.

Other products in the public-sector market have also linked social media-like communication and work data onto a single platform. Last April, Salesforce announced the launch of a new suite of government-targeted products to help public agencies at all levels combine social communication and business tools in a secure cloud environment.

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