Pittsburgh is upgrading its IT infrastructure with help from Google Cloud

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The four-year project will include training and certifications for city staff.

Image: iStockphoto/Joecho-16

Pittsburgh and Google launched a four-year plan to move the city’s IT infrastructure to the cloud to lower overall costs and improve the delivery of services. The City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation and Performance will lead the project. 

The city will use the modern infrastructure to build new data analytics tools for smart city projects and new customer-facing applications, according to a press release. The city used Google cloud services for an initial storage migration in 2020, Heidi Norman, acting director of the city’s innovation department, said in a press release.

“We realized all the different ways we could partner with Google Cloud to reduce the barriers of entry to move to a more cloud-focused approach to service delivery, and from there, developed a plan to rapidly adopt Google Cloud for our remaining on-premises applications,” she said in a press release.

Norman said that there was some urgency to the storage project, which would have been impossible with the city’s legacy IT infrastructure.

“By assessing and understanding our IT infrastructure, Google was able to help expand on that initial partnership by helping us identify a path to realistically move our infrastructure to the cloud within a short span of time,” she said.  

SEE: Cloud data storage policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Norman said the project will begin with moving IT tools and applications to monitor and manage the infrastructure. The next step will be to move compute and storage capacity into the cloud; and the last phase will be lifting and shifting applications from on-premises to the cloud. The migration team will include city staff, Google Cloud and Google Cloud Premier Partner Cloudbakers.

“Part of this innovative pilot partnership for Google Cloud’s added value includes not just migration, storage, applications, computing, and professional services but they will also provide training and certifications for city staff so that we can enhance our talent to manage the service,” Norma said. 

Cloudbakers provides implementation and tech support for cloud migrations. City departments will use query tools to analyze data in Pittsburgh’s Data Rivers, a cloud-based data lake, to build dashboards and reports.

Scalability and security were other factors in the decision, according to the press release, due to the city’s need to operate applications across multiple departments simultaneously. The platform also will handle services for the Department of Public Safety, including police, fire and emergency medical services.

Mike Daniels, vice president of global public sector at Google Cloud, said in a press release that this project will “open many opportunities to reimagine how to serve citizens, now and into the future.”

Dan Stroman, senior director of public sector at CloudCheckr, said that public sector leaders have prioritized IT modernization recently and cloud providers have been cultivating more government agencies as potential customers.  

“The past year has seen federal, state and local agencies communicating with citizens through SaaS on an unprecedented level, thus expanding the levels of sensitive data in the cloud exponentially,” he said. 

Stroman said he expects to see many more partnerships between cloud providers and cities during this year to meet scalability and security needs related to this transition.

At the company’s public cloud sector summit in December, Google announced Workspace for Government that can be used for social care visits, employment support and virtual court sessions. According to the company, Rhode Island used Google Cloud to host a virtual career center. This effort included data collection services, dashboards and visualizations, Google’s Cloud Talent Solution and virtual customer service agents. 

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