City Computers Crash, City Stickers Sales March On
Clerk Mendoza Blasts State Of City’s Computer Network
Neither rain nor snow, nor sleet nor City of Chicago system wide computer network crash shall keep this year’s city stickers from being sold.
Even though the city’s entire computer infrastructure suffered a paralyzing failure on Thursday, June 7th, where city business essentially ground to a halt, the Chicago City Clerk’s office was able to keep on selling this year’s city stickers at its three locations.
The City Clerk’s office had developed a manual backup system in anticipation of just such an event, ironically, as a result of a series of similar computer network outages almost exactly a year before.
Because the City Clerk’s office’s electronic sales system is dependent on the city’s computer network, last year city sticker sales stopped too when the city’s computer system goes down.
“Last year the City’s computer system crashed four times during our busiest sales period and we had no way of selling city vehicle stickers to thousands of customers,” said City Clerk Susana Mendoza. “That was unacceptable to me. And when I couldn’t be reassured that this would be fixed in time for our sales period this year, I had our staff create a back up in person sales system that could be launched within minutes of any issues with the City’s computer system.”
The impatient Mendoza, who has given the City Clerk’s office a head to toe makeover since she took office in April, 2011, didn’t want to be caught flat footed if city computers crashed again–especially during the frenetic period when Chicago car, truck and motorcycle owners have to renew their city vehicle stickers.
“In a City the size of Chicago, it is unthinkable that the entire government computer network would crash for any amount of time, let alone hours. The system crashing meant people were unable to access online services, including online city vehicle stickers, paying parking tickets and water bills and more. This is a disservice to Chicago taxpayers trying to conduct business with the City,” explained Mendoza.”
Adding insult to injury, on the day the city’s computers went down, a city sticker ward sale was being held in Alderman Tim Cullerton’s 38th ward office.
Since the Clerk’s backup system doesn’t need connection to a computer network, City Clerk staff were able to continue the ward sale while barely missing a beat according to Cullerton.
“We had hundreds of 38th Ward residents in line waiting to buy their city vehicle sticker,” said Alderman Cullerton. “I am grateful that the City Clerk’s Office was able to quickly switch to their secondary system and were able to still process the sticker sales for all our constituents.”
Despite the backup system she and her staff devised to allow sticker sales to continue, Mendoza seems frustrated with these ill timed computer network failures during the height of city sticker season where close to 1.3 million are sold over a handful of weeks. She’s wants things fixed.
“Without a doubt, city resources must be devoted to fixing and enhancing our computer network. Chicago taxpayers deserve a system that will not cause frustrations and disruptions,” says Mendoza. “And while our office was able to help customers purchase their city stickers in person, thousands more Chicagoans were inconvenienced and annoyed when they weren’t able to buy their stickers online due to the computer outage.”
While the 2011-2012 city sticker on car windshields expires June 30th, vehicle owners can purchase their new Chicago vehicle sticker until July 15th without late fee or threat of a $200 parking ticket.