Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Jeff Snyder
Seifert Technologies Network Engineer, Jeff Snyder

Smithville considers server, phone, email upgrades

By Thomas Doohan Staff Writer for The Daily Record

Published: April 24, 2016 4:00 AM

SMITHVILLE -- Council plans on making improvements to the village's technological capabilities, but before it proceeds, the group needs to do some homework.

During council's meeting April 11, Jeff Snyder, a representative from Seifert Technologies, the company hired to manage the village's technology, discussed the areas in which council should look at making improvements. He said the priorities moving forward should be purchasing a new server, a new phone system and contracting with a new company for email.

"We have a server here that is easily 10 years old, if not older," Snyder said.  While it still functions fine, the piece of equipment is an issue because it recently stopped being supported by Microsoft. That means patches for the server will no longer be produced, which will make any issues that could arise "a little bit of a concern."

Right now, Snyder said, the primary user of the server is the Smithville Police Department. However, it would be to the village's benefit for all the village's departments to use the server.

"The entire town could leverage that server, not just the police department," Snyder said. Describing how it would benefit the other departments, he said "you've got recoverability."

For instance, the water department operates with a computer system that is contained within the water plant. Snyder said with a new server, the water plant could maintain its records on a computer on location and back up all its information to a server at a centralized location.

The village also needs to look into getting a new phone system. Snyder said the phones within Village Hall are having issues with voice mail. As such, the village needs to think about the reality that the phone system will eventually stop working, he added.

Snyder said the two best solutions for the phone issue moving forward are either Google Voice or a new phone package offered by MCTV. Google Voice would provide voice mail forwarding, which could temporarily alleviate the village of its phone problems.

The solution at MCTV is what is called a PBX system, Snyder said. The phone system would not be hosting in house, but at MCTV. The only thing the village would need to do is purchase new phones.

Kyle Krownapple, president of the Board of Public Affairs, said he has had experience with Google Voice and does not recommend it. He said it should only be a temporary solution. Snyder said his experiences with the program have been favorable, but reiterated the program would only be implemented as a short term solution to the current voice mail problem.

Currently, the village uses MCTV for email. Snyder said MCTV offers five email addresses per account. He said Smithville has five accounts and has 21 email addresses in active use.

The system has worked in the past, but with talks of expanding email capabilities to position council members to be more equipped to deal with public records requests, improvements should be made, Snyder said. The systems he is looking at are Microsoft Office 365 and Zoho. Both are upgrades from the current system, but come at different price points, he said.

Councilwoman Joyce Garn said she wanted to know why there were so many email addresses activated under the MCTV accounts. Snyder said the Police Department has email addresses for each officer. Should the village go forward with one of the new systems, he said he would work to consolidate the addresses into one, and get it forwarded to a new account in the new system.

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