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Examiner
  • Q5: Mark Baumann

  • Mark Baumann was recently named as the Technology Services director for the city of Independence. Baumann joined Independence’s Technology Services staff in January 1984. He has served as programmer analyst, systems analyst and management information supervisor. Since March 1998, Baumann had been the information technology systems manager.

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  • Mark Baumann was recently named as the Technology Services director for the city of Independence. Baumann joined Independence’s Technology Services staff in January 1984. He has served as programmer analyst, systems analyst and management information supervisor. Since March 1998, Baumann had been the information technology systems manager.
    1. How did you become interested in working with computers and in a technology-related field?
    Even though my bachelor’s degree was in marketing, I had enjoyed the computer programming classes that I was required to take. It wasn’t until after I had graduated from Pittsburg State University and working in the marketing field that I realized that I needed to make a course correction. I had a friend who was a programmer who helped put me on the right track.
    2. What are some of the biggest technological changes since you started with the city’s Technology Services Department in 1984?
    I’ll approach this question as the biggest technological changes that have occurred here in the Technology Services department since 1984.
    • PCs: When I first started at the city, we used “dumb terminals” as the input/output device for our systems. They had no processor – just basically a display monitor. Then PCs came along and revolutionized the work place. It’s interesting, though, with the fact that our users save most of their documents and files on our network servers, and with the potential of the “cloud,” it’s possible that the PC may become a “dumb” terminal at some point in the future.
    • The Internet: The Internet has definitely had the biggest impact here at the city. It’s become a lifeline for us. Almost everything, in one way or another, involves the Internet.
    • Mobile devices: Still in its infant stage but has had a big impact here at the city and will continue as we find ways to use the technology for the benefit of our city workers and residents.
    3. How do the systems of today compare to when you started nearly three decades ago?
    When I first started here in 1984, the programming staff used a couple of different programming languages and maintained less than 10 systems on one large mainframe computer. Today, we use over 15 different programming languages and manage over 40 system applications on multiple platforms.
    The systems that we design and develop today are interconnected across platforms, are wired to the web and use a graphical user interface (point-and-click), which is a much better experience for our end users. The programming languages are much more flexible and allows for the greater reuse of code.
    4. In what ways have technological advancements made your job easier, and in what ways have they made it more difficult?
    Being able to remote in from my laptop, no matter where I’m at, has been a great benefit to myself, as well as other city employees. It allows me to react quickly to situations. A crisis doesn’t always happen during normal business hours. Our credit card payments are a $40 million a year business. It must be available at all times for our customers to do business with the city.
    Page 2 of 2 - Keeping up with the accelerated pace of technological advancement can be both challenging and present opportunities. It can be a struggle at times to maintain our current technical infrastructure and also keep abreast of new emerging technologies that offer cost savings, as well as new services that can benefit our customers and city employees. Protecting our technical assets is also becoming one of our most challenging areas that we face today.
    5. What do you think the next few years in Technology Services hold for the city of Independence and its residents?
    • Mobile computing: The mobile computing age is upon us, and we intend to be part of it. We can’t afford not to. We can provide mobile apps that allow the public to interact more conveniently with the city. The potential to reach citizens on a personal basis has never been as high as it is with mobile technology. We must also continue to look for ways to use mobile technology for the benefit of our city workers in the field.
    • Cloud computing: Currently, this technology is being utilized here at the city in a limited fashion. However, I see it having great potential in replacing some of our systems that we currently maintain in-house. There’s the potential for cost savings while providing better services to city residents and employees.
    • Video: Although this may not be a new technology, I see it playing a different role in the near future. We will most certainly incorporate video in a greater capacity on the city’s website and possibly our mobile apps. People tend to interact well with video.
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