Hard at work: Paradise Valley IT department chugs along in update

A view of Paradise Valley Town Council at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

A multitude of technology updates to the Town of Paradise Valley will be bringing staff and municipal departments out of the stone age, officials there say.

The Paradise Valley Town Council received an update on what the Information Technology Department has worked on and where the department hopes to place its future focus. Steven Brunasso, chief information officer, presented to council during the study session of the Thursday, Nov. 15 council meeting at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

The majority of Mr. Brunasso’s presentation centered on the department’s infrastructure update. He said the majority of equipment the department was working on dated back to the late 1990s.

All in all, the department, Mr. Brunasso reported, has worked on about 35 projects in five months. Some of those projects included Town Hall wiring redesign, standard Microsoft software, a complete email move and a new wireless network.

This comes on the heels of Mr. Brunasso bringing the town’s IT needs to the council’s attention during budget deliberations in April.

Four of the five staff members in the department are new, Mr. Brunasso said. Those new staff include Mr. Brunasso, two new analysts — with one other analyst staying — and one geographic information system analyst.

Of his new staff, Mr. Brunasso said they come from the private sector, are “really skilled” and are diligent.

“We’ve been very productive,” he said. “We’re really dedicated to improving PV and bringing it to what’s more common in the world around us. My staff is why we get things done so fast and so efficiently.”

Hard at work

Mr. Brunasso spent the rest of his presentation going into more depth on some of the projects.

He started with showing the standardized laptops and computers for the town, which are both Dells. All staff will use Office 365 on Windows 10 and everyone will get dual monitors because that increases productivity by 20-30 percent, he said.

The town is also piloting a voice-over internet protocol phone system, creating a phone system that runs over the internet instead of through landlines and older methods.

The IT Department plans on doing maintenance on the police department where the current phone system resides.

There was also some deferred maintenance that Mr. Brunasso’s staff tackled. This included maintenance on public works and finance software as well as on fixed site license plate readers. The maintenance in public works and finance is now on a regular schedule.

For the LPRs, the IT department reviewed each site and developed a short-term support plan for them as they reach the end of service life.

The police department will also get new laptops to replace the tablets that are in each vehicle. The IT Department reviewed each one and developed a short-term support plan.

“This is what a lot of the officers wanted,” Mr. Brunasso said. “We worked with them together to choose the new platform.”

Mr. Brunasso said his department hopes to get past town documentation on to a paperless system, noting that there are four rooms full of old documentation. He hopes to move a lot of that documentation into Adobe Acrobat and PDF formats.

In response to Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Wilner, Mr. Brunasso said some of the documents will utilize optical character recognition and he thinks it will be beneficial to utilize OCR on most of the documents so they will be easier to search.

OCR allows documents to not only be scanned in like a photo but to make text in that document recognized.

For cyber security, Mr. Brunasso said the department will use centralized logging to better monitor who is attacking the town.

Previously, town staff had been using several different versions of Microsoft Office, leaving some directors having to save the document differently depending on what software staff was using. Mr. Brunasso said the standardization to one platform should eliminate those speed bumps in productivity.

The department deployed a staff self service where they can download their own apps from a town-approved list, thus eliminating the IT Department from having to download for anyone on staff.

As part of the town’s private cloud development, there will be four virtual private cloud servers, two disk storage arrays and two hidden network switches. Mr. Brunasso said the double of everything will help if one server goes down, the other will boot up.

Wi-Fi at Town Hall and the police department has been upgraded and utilizes one central enterprise solution instead of 10 devices spread around the campus.

The department is also looking for more external support. In the past, the town has used one vendor. Mr. Brunasso said he hopes to work with three or four local vendors.

Many on council were complimentary to what the IT department has done so far.

“It sounds like what you guys are doing is best practices,” Councilman Paul Dembow said addressing Mr. Brunasso.

“I’m very impressed. Very good job on the stuff you guys are doing. If you knew the pain we’ve been through over the years — because I’m a techie guy — what you’re doing now is making me smile inside and out.”

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