Chicago goes to Microsoft cloud for email, apps


The city of Chicago is edging closer to modernization with its latest move to cloud services for email and business applications. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the City of Chicago is adopting a cloud strategy for all employee email and desktop applications, a move that consolidates and modernizes the City’s disparate email systems, making city-wide operations more effective and secure and saving taxpayers $400,000 per year. The initiative follows another announcement about the launch of citywide wifi as Chicago works quickly to become a technology hub.

The new cloud system encompasses all email and desktop applications (such as documents and spreadsheets) for 30,000 city employees across all city departments. Previously, the city managed three separate email systems internally, providing challenges to efficiency and security. With the cloud, the city is streamlining and consolidating these three systems into one, reducing outages, improving security and ensuring that all employees who need access to email and desktop applications have them. Additionally, with this cloud strategy, the cost per employee decreases by nearly 80%, resulting in a savings of $400,000 per year over the course of a four-year agreement with Microsoft.

This is another step in the city’s overall strategy to modernize its digital infrastructure to increase transparency and foster data-driven innovation, both internally and through civic partnerships. On January 1, the city consolidated its IT operations by merging Chicago Public Libraries and non-emergency public safety IT support under DoIT, decreasing duplication across departments and allowing the city to be more effective. Additionally, as part of this overall modernization strategy, the city has also published hundreds of datasets in a machine-readable format on the city’s dataportal, implemented a new Open311 service request system that helps to reduce redundancies and allows Chicagoans to track requests online and partnered with civic developers to launch and host integrated webpages on the city’s website that fosters online engagement with Chicago residents like PlowTracker and Adopt-A-Sidewalk.

“The cloud strategy gives City employees the ability to do their jobs more effectively while saving taxpayer dollars, decreasing duplication among departments and streamlining our operations across the board,” said Brett Goldstein, the City’s Chief Information Officer and the Commissioner of the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). “The cloud strategy is a major step towards our goal of modernizing our information technology. Ultimately, updating the City’s digital infrastructure for the 21st century sets the foundation for innovation that will continue to move us forward.”