NLC picks IBM to spread e-gov message

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"Market watch"

The National League of Cities and IBM Corp. announced a collaboration last

week that could provide e-government services to thousands of cities across

the United States.

Many cities — especially rural and smaller municipalities — are underserved

and do not have the financial resources to implement technology, said Brad

Westpfahl, IBM's director of global government industry marketing. But technology

needs are similar from city to city, and therefore, many of the same solutions

can be applied and shared, he added.

"We believe a huge number of cities either have no technology or very

rudimentary technology," Westpfahl said.

IBM, its technology partners, individual state municipal leagues and

NLC — which represents municipal governments — will conduct focus groups

to determine cities' needs.

Education will also be a feature of the collaboration. Westpfahl said

technology exhibits and three-day classroom-style programs for smaller groups

will introduce city officials to wide-ranging digital applications, such

as geographic information systems and online transactions.

Beginning next year, IBM will also sponsor a twice-monthly newsletter

for all NLC members, highlighting 25 noteworthy e-government practices,

he said.

Also, IBM and its partners will work with state municipal leagues and

cities to offer specific application solutions. "So this is a state-by-state,

"What do your cities need?' process," he said. Westpfahl declined to comment

on what the costs will be to cities. This summer, IBM formed partnerships

with several e-government providers, including:

* EzGov.com, an electronic services provider for governments.

* Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc., a software developer

of geographic information systems.

* HTE Inc., which specializes in financial management, community services,

public safety, justice, utility management and school administration.

* JPH International Inc., a provider of citizen relationship management

solutions.

NLC spokesman John Pionke said the collaboration will help cities that

have little or no Internet capability. He said NLC looked at several different

companies but felt that IBM could address all the technology issues for

municipalities. "We will help to create access to cities and [help them]

have access to IBM," he said. The NLC has a membership of more than 1,700

cities and towns and 49 state municipal associations. There are about 20,000

cities in the United States.

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