President Biden Visits Avenu’s New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board Client

For over 20 years, Avenu has been providing IT Managed Services to the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO). For this effort, we partner with a Disadvantaged Business Entity and together employ 43 staff members (23 Avenu employees).

New Orleans sits 20 feet below sea level and visitors are always astounded to be outside and look up to see a ship going down the Mississippi River. SWBNO holds the responsibility for providing drainage and sewerage facilities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, where and when they are needed and for providing drinking water to thousands of homes in the city.

President Biden’s trip to New Orleans was to specifically tour SWBNO. Why? SWBNO has been using the same technology to drain the city since the 1910s. On 6 May, the President toured the SWBNO facility that houses the city’s century-old turbines – more than half of which are broken – that power a network of drainage pumps.

President Biden wanted to tour and highlight SWBNO as a prime example of a facility that is in dire need of modernizing its infrastructure. The President specifically named SWBNO in his $2.2 trillion proposal to revamp the nation’s infrastructure and replace major components of our facility.

It was in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans breaching the levees which caused 80% of the city to be underwater and resulted in thousands of citizens losing their lives. According to SWBNO’s history, the impact of Hurricane Katrina devasted the board’s water, sewer, drainage and power generation systems.

Over 300 Sewerage & Water Board employees manned their stations at board facilities throughout the city during Hurricane Katrina and during the catastrophic flooding that followed. These Sewerage & Water Board ‘Katrina Heroes’ literally risked their lives and their personal safety to salvage and repair vital Sewerage & Water Board facilities and equipment that made it possible to dewater the city in only 11 days after the levee breaches were repaired.

Maintaining SWBNO’s infrastructure is critical.

When asked about the challenges of dealing with storms, Avenu’s Program Manager at SWBNO remarked that I am so proud of the entire SWBNO team. Last year we had eight named storms and direct hits come through which is an extraordinary amount for the team to deal with to keep the City safe. I am so grateful to lead and work with such a wonderful team. They are the best!”

The Pandemic Put Pressure On The Government Workforce: How Automation May Provide Relief

COVID-19 has upset business as usual for the American economy, and businesses have hemorrhaged jobs over the last year to compensate for COVID-19’s impact. But governments are among those that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. State and local governments lost close to 1,000,000 jobs in 2020. Governments need a way to reverse this trend and emerge stronger in 2021.

As Avenu’s CEO, Paul Colangelo, writes in his latest op-ed for Forbes, automation can empower state and local governments to meet the challenges of the pandemic head-on. With automation, governments can save jobs, streamline their workflow, unlock hidden revenue and regain lost efficiency.

But state and local governments will need to make sure their ready to automate their operations. A comprehensive data audit and updates to their IT infrastructure, as well as new employee training programs, may all be necessary to make an automation effort a success.

Find our more here.

Cyber Security Threats Abound in Public Sector

Over the past two years, hackers have attacked local government agencies more than 184 times, disabling systems for hours and sometimes days. Recently, Atlanta and Baltimore were hit with ransomware attacks that crippled their online and administrative systems. More than a week after the cyberattacks, officials still are working through the setbacks caused by the shutdown of their digital processes and services.

As cities and counties become more dependent on their IT infrastructure to manage their data and daily operations, cybersecurity must be a priority that starts with the budgeting process.

How much discussion occurred last year about cybersecurity during your planning? Funding needs to cover not only hard costs, such as software, but also soft expenses, such as training. Here’s why.

Our cybersecurity experts point to software vulnerabilities as a leading cause of attacks like ransomware, and there are ongoing costs for the subscriptions and other services that distribute security updates and prevent attacks. However, it’s often the human factor that allows public agencies to fall victim to these attacks when an unsuspecting staff member clicks on a bad link or downloads a “malware” file.

At Avenu we have access to sensitive information for municipal clients across the nation, so we place a high priority on security. We have developed a series of best practices around our “detection, prevention and recovery” strategy to stay ahead of threats. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about it.