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How Local Governments Navigate Budget Shortfalls

Local governments are working harder than ever over the last year to manage budget shortfalls. Changes in revenue can impact key services for the community. Accurate forecasting and revenue maximization is key during these uncertain times.

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In this episode, we talk with Paul Colangelo, the CEO of Avenu Insights and Analytics. He brings a wealth of experience to the conversation having over two decades of experience working with local governments. Our discussion delves into:

  • Untapped revenue for local governments during the economic downturn
  • Conducting a business license discovery and recovery review and how it helps with revenue enhancement
  • Preparing for fluctuations in revenue streams as the economy recovers
  • The long term impacts of the COVID pandemic.

This discussion was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

How Digital Technology is Giving Old Documents New Life

For local governments, moving beyond fear of digitalization is essential to making their products and services more accessible for constituents.

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In this episode, I talk with Alfredo Frauenfelder, Client Executive at Avenu Insights & Analytics, about how digital technology can give old documents new life and what that process looks like for local governments.

What we discussed:

  • Why preservation of documentation for future generations is critical
  • How to capture, store, and publish handwritten documents
  • The current state of historical documents for most governments
  • What challenges Local Governments face starting these projects
  • How digitalization can actually pay for itself over time

This discussion was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Are You Missing Money from the State? Find it With This Free Bi-lingual Site

Every year states receive billions of dollars in unclaimed money, property or other assets. According to a recent article in CNET, New York is holding on to $16.5 billion in lost or forgotten property, California’s holdings are valued at approximately $10.2 billion and Florida returned $328 million worth of claimed property last year. And according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), the average claim paid in 2019 was $1,780.

There is a fast, easy and FREE way for people to find out if there are any forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policies, money transfers or utility deposits in their name. Simply go to www.MissingMoney.com (available in both English and Spanish) which helps States unite missing money to rightful owners. To access the Spanish version of the website, go to the dropdown menu in the top right corner and select the Spanish option.

MissingMoney.com is the only site for unclaimed money that is endorsed by NAUPA and allows visitors to perform nationwide searches for lost property that has been turned over to state governments. Started in 1999 to help track and return unclaimed property, MissingMoney.com now contains over 130 million searchable records from participating states that support the site by submitting their data weekly.

Budgeting Sales Tax Revenue

Local governments can fine-tune their budget forecasts by understanding the tremendous impacts that and state and federal programs have had on Sales Tax Revenue over the past year.

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In this episode, we talk with Mark Bryson, Senior Economic Analyst at Avenu, who works with California jurisdictions and is an expert in helping them navigate the changes COVID has brought to revenue forecasts. Our discussion delves into:

  • Key concepts relevant to understanding and properly budgeting for future Sales Tax Revenues
  • Why these basic Sales Tax concepts are important to the budgeting process
  • 5 things that occurred in California that have never happened before that impact Sales Tax Revenue
  • What jurisdictions throughout the country should be thinking about when they are budgeting Sales Tax Revenue these days

This discussion was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Why Cybersecurity Matters For Governments in the Post-COVID World

In our age of digital connectivity, cities and counties across the country must meet the ever-increasing demands of citizens and businesses for efficient and effective digital government.  The coronavirus pandemic has only intensified these demands; socially distanced employees and citizens need digital-first services now more than ever, and organizations that lack a robust digital infrastructure are struggling to cope with COVID’s new normal.

But with this ever-accelerating shift to digital and online services, cybersecurity is more important than ever before. Cybersecurity experts reported an 800% surge in cybercrime since the start of the pandemic, with approximately 4,000 cyberattacks occurring each and every day.

No one is safe from this surge in cybercrime. Hackers today have their sights set on everything from personal work accounts to essential government infrastructure. If we’re going to thrive in our more heavily digitized economy and society, then we will need the cybersecurity protections that make all of our digital interactions safe.

The coming 5G revolution only further increases the need for adequate cybersecurity. With speeds potentially 100 times faster than the current generation of wireless technology, 5G can support a wider array of online services, platforms and digital equipment than ever before. For local governments, this means newer, better, faster and more formidable technology tools at their disposal, as well as faster and greater data sharing and remote work capabilities.

But all these benefits will come at the cost of even more significant digital exposure to hackers and cybercriminals.

Cybersecurity isn’t easy; it can often be very costly, and good cybersecurity typically scales more slowly than digital innovation, leaving us at risk as we adopt new technologies. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get cybersecurity done and done right. As we enter the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, I want to highlight three areas of cybersecurity that governments must focus on in their efforts to deliver the best in digital government:

(1) Policy

For years, cybersecurity policy has been the unspoken elephant in the room. Tech insiders and IT experts have known about the rising threat of cybercrime. But business and organizational leaders have all too frequently postponed discussing this threat and formulating the policies necessary for mitigating it; approximately 7 in 10 organizations are ill-prepared for a cyberattack.

The coronavirus pandemic changed all that. The rapid and often haphazard digitization of whole spheres of economic and social activity has forced the conversation about cybersecurity to the forefront. Many businesses with fully remote workforces, for example, must now confront the reality of their data protection and cybersecurity needs for their remote workstations. With so much crucial infrastructure and information exposed to hackers, cybersecurity can no longer be put on the backburner.

The time is ripe for a renewed discussion of cybersecurity policy at every level of every organization and government. Remote employees need to be briefed on the best practices and protocols for keeping data safe online, and governments need tight cybersecurity policies in place to prevent a disaster.

(2) Architecture

Cybersecurity architecture is one of the core components of digital safety. Poorly designed or shoddily implemented digital systems can entail significant cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It’s not necessarily a matter of bad technology; cybersecurity is as much as about how well you’ve built new technologies into your existing systems and communication channels as it is about the quality of the technology itself.

Nowhere is the importance of cybersecurity architecture more evident than in our remote workforces today. Almost overnight, governments across the country had to transition from an in-person, in-office workforce to a remote workforce. All things considered, that transition was pretty successful. But many governments implemented remote work systems that vastly outstripped their existing cybersecurity architecture.

In a perfect world, governments would have had more time to test, probe and refine their remote work systems before having to rely on them. But we don’t live in a perfect world. As we go forward, governments should make sure that their cybersecurity architecture is up to snuff, or else they risk courting cybercriminals and hackers. Good data backups, up-to-date cybersecurity software and secure network connections are all parts of good cybersecurity architecture.

 (3) Operations

Finally, good cybersecurity requires clear and effective digital operations. COVID-19 rapidly tore down pre-existing barriers to digital government. Faced with the choice of adapting to digital government or struggling to provide continuity of services during a pandemic, many governments have quickly and effectively changed their daily operations to meet their newfound digital needs.

But emergency changes to daily operations are not enough. Governments will have to codify, systematize and normalize the new digital operations. That means, among other things, tearing down artificial or merely bureaucratic barriers to effective remote work and ensuring legacy communications channels are updated to meet the needs of the moment.

By focusing on the three aspects of policy, architecture and operations, governments can lay the groundwork they need for effective cybersecurity in the post-COVID world. Governments will have to act fast; 5G is coming, and will bring its own hurdles for governments rapidly adapting to keep pace with changing technology. As we move to 5G-enabled government systems, Governments must update their cybersecurity now, or risk a cyber-attack or data breach that will have devastating consequences.

Roger Murphy is director of IT managed services at Avenu Insights & Analytics.

Digital Government Strategies that Lower the Cost of Revenue Management

For the City of Vestavia Hills, in Alabama, effectively using data was key to navigating the challenges presented by the pandemic.

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In this episode, we talked with Jeff Downes, City Manager of Vestavia Hills. We covered:

  • The challenges faced with providing more with less
  • How their team leverages technology to provide better revenue management
  • How Vestavia Hills dealt with the declining revenue, and increasing operational costs faced by localities.
  • Utilizing different data sources to glean insight in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Some of the most surprising trends to come out of the pandemic, and what changes may be permanent

This discussion was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Business License Administration and Compliance

For the City of Rolling Hills Estates in California, the adoption of new technology has already paid off with a unique approach to administering and maximizing compliance of business license tax revenues.

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In this episode, we talked with Mike Whitehead, Administrative Services Director and City Treasurer for the City of Rolling Hills Estates in California. We covered:
  • Challenges faced with business license administration and overall compliance
  • Finding solutions tailored to the unique needs and problems cities are facing
  • Responsibilities of staff and the shifting priorities with the use of new technology
  • Cost savings with technology partnerships and client facing portals

This discussion was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Avenu Insights & Analytics Announces Its Statewide Implementation for South Carolina Family Courts

The effort was spearheaded by the South Carolina Family Courts, in coordination with the South Carolina Department of Social Services, to modernize its platform and bring better information sharing, centralized data sources, and add greater efficiencies across all county courts.

“Our Family Court System had two major motivating factors to move towards a statewide system,” stated Michael Leach, State Director with the South Carolina Department of Social Services. “First was to provide better access to more accurate case information to the Judges, Court staff, the bar, and to our constituents. The second factor is that each of our 46 counties will have system support, maintenance and upgrades, regardless of their size or budget.”

Avenu is a leading provider of court and justice software applications and is accustomed to providing county, state, and Federal implementations to include the Office of the United States Courts. The company has noticed a significant trend towards statewide implementations which benefit by having economies of scale for the upgraded technology.

“Avenu is excited to deploy another statewide solution,” shared Paul Colangelo. “South Carolina is one of our forward-thinking clients who decided to move to a single platform for case management system statewide. The benefits of this are enormous and include having a single source of truth in the data along with accelerated workflows for more streamlined operations.”

About Avenu Insights & Analytics

Over 3,000 state and local governments have partnered with Avenu to drive positive results for their communities through software administration and revenue enhancement solutions. Avenu’s comprehensive software solutions digitally transform government by modernizing processes, providing online access to records, and reducing costs. Avenu also provides a robust ecosystem of revenue management services that identify and recover untapped revenue. State and local governments work closely with Avenu to increase revenue without raising taxes, streamline internal operations, and improve services by enhancing connectivity for constituents. Avenu is a portfolio company of Mill Point Capital. To learn more, visit www.avenuinsights.com.

About Mill Point Capital
Mill Point Capital is a middle-market private equity firm focused on control-oriented investments in the business services and industrial sectors. The firm works with executive partners to leverage its investment professionals’ experience, while providing strategic and operational guidance designed to drive long-term value creation in its portfolio companies. Mill Point is based in New York.

Originally published on PRWeb.

Can Zoom Replace In-Person Meetings? Why We Might Still Need the Personal Touch

By Louis Schiavone Jr., Avenu President & Chief Customer Officer

Nearly one year ago, businesses and organizations across the country embarked upon a daring experiment. Faced with a deadly pandemic, strict social distancing regulations and a newly-remote workforce, teams in every industry and field shifted almost overnight to video conferencing technology in order to stay in touch, share information, collaborate and dialogue.

That shift was massive in its impact and scale. Revenues at Zoom alone grew 169% and 355% in the first and second quarter of 2020, while end-user spending on video conferencing technology soared by several billion dollars.

But in spite of the apparent success of our collective shift to digital and online meetings, video conferencing technology might not be a perfect solution. Big business deals, long-term client relationships and even team building need the interpersonal trust and mutual understanding that only in-person meetings can provide. Virtual meetings can’t be a complete substitute for face-to-face interactions.

Anyone who has been in business for a long time, especially in the service business, knows the importance of relationships. Most customers highly value a close, long-term relationship with their business and service partners. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2018 State of Sales report found that trust, the kind that comes from building good relationships, was a better indicator of sales success than return on investment or even product price.

Yet trust-based relationships have typically been built over time through many face-to-face meetings. And with good reason, too. In-person meetings give participants the freedom to spend time getting to know each other both professionally and personally. With today’s tightly scheduled Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings, that same freedom just isn’t possible. Our introductions become more awkward and less natural, and we’re more focused on quickly sharing information than we are on meeting and building relationships with each other.

What’s more, we’re hardwired as human beings to pick up on the subtle conversational nuances of hand gestures, facial expressions, posture and even physical touch like a handshake. Body language is an indispensable part of communication, and so much of a compelling sales pitch boils down to being an engaging presence in the room. But in a Zoom meeting, you can’t even properly make eye contact with the person you’re speaking to.

Now, for many people and business situations, a virtual meeting is probably still enough. A quick team collaboration, project follow-up or personal check-in can all be done quite easily and efficiently in a virtual medium.

The problem is when virtual meetings replace in-person meetings wholesale. Can we really build strong teams from scratch without team members ever meeting face-to-face? Will we be able to forge client relationships that last over Zoom? For many businesses, relationships are more than just a way to seal the deal or get the sale; they are a key part of the value proposition of an offer. Are vendors even offering the same service if that service is abstracted from in-person relationships and reduced to a commodity? I don’t have final answers to these questions, but these are the type of questions we have to start asking as we enter the second year of the Zoom and video conferencing revolution.

Our shift to virtual meetings certainly makes a lot of sense in context, and I’m by no means against it. In fact, I’ve enjoyed travelling less over the past year and getting to spend more time at home with my family. And of course, when separated from each other by geography, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing technologies are a huge step up from emails, texts and perhaps even traditional phone calls.

But that doesn’t mean they can deliver the same intimacy and connection of a face-to-face meeting. Before we throw in-person meetings out the window, we should reflect on what we might be losing and consider whether meeting face-to-face is worth the extra effort after all.

CASE STUDY: A History of Partnership

How Avenu Built IT Solutions for the Digital Age

The digital transformation of government is an imperative today. Digital citizens increasingly demand the convenience and efficiency of digital services from their local governments. Paper processing, manual data entry and in-person bureaucracies hamper government’s ability to deliver best-in-class solutions that can keep up with the pace of modern life.

But digitizing and modernizing isn’t always easy. There’s a lot for local governments to process. To fully digitize their operations, governments need effective and secure IT infrastructure, as well as access to the expertise, resources and tools of dedicated IT specialists.

Since the 1990s, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, has sought to stay on top of the latest trends in digital government. But Monroe County didn’t want to be just one step ahead; they wanted to build a digital government that would last for the long term. To do so, they needed help. And Avenu was there to help them.

Avenu’s decades-long partnership with Monroe County has effected a total digital transformation of the county’s government.

Learn the steps taken to implement this transformation and enable Monroe County to be a leader into the future.

Monroe County, Pennsylvania