Feb 15 2021

How Can IPaaS Help State and Local Government?

Integration Platform as a Service acts as a hub, connecting multiple applications and their data and applying business rules and logic to link them together.

Connecting applications and the data they hold has never been particularly easy, but with the rise of cloud-based Software as a Service products, that connection is even more difficult. 

Integration Platform as a Service falls into the general category of “middleware,” software that sits between applications. While middleware is a well-established class of technology, IPaaS is a variation focused on the newest flavor of middleware: linking up cloud-based SaaS applications.

What Is Integration Platform as a Service?

IPaaS products are all quite different, but they have common elements. IPaaS is delivered as a cloud-based service to connect applications and data flows within an enterprise, whether cloud-based or on-premises. The goal of IPaaS is to act as a hub, connecting multiple applications and their data, and applying some business rules and logic to link things together.

Government IT managers are looking at IPaaS technology to deliver a stronger application portfolio to end users, whether they are staffers or citizens. 

When applications are integrated, end users see consistent data across systems and more complete data overall. This aids in analysis and makes it easier for users to interpret and use the deep pools of data available in many government systems, while reducing the chance of misinterpretation. 

IPaaS simplifies and speeds workflows with little development time, giving every user a better government experience; it enables agencies to operate on “internet time” rather than “government time.” 

How IPaaS Can Aid Government Agencies

The best way to understand how IPaaS works for government agencies is to explore specific use cases. A simple Internet of Things example, traffic cameras, highlights how IPaaS can aid local agencies. 

Many local governments have outsourced their traffic camera data management to a third party that takes the responsibility for collecting the data, warehousing it in the cloud, making it available for playback or analysis, and running the whole network. A local government’s traffic camera system can generate enforcement events, noting when a certain car ran a red light and capturing that vehicle’s license plate.

IPaaS vendors provide a toolkit that can talk to multiple applications,  including the traffic camera system, the local department of motor vehicles, law enforcement and other systems. Rather than asking one vendor or one developer to take the responsibility for making the linkage, an IPaaS vendor can take disparate systems with disparate data types and build the connections. 

LEARN MORE: What does software-defined everything mean for state governments?

Different Applications IPaaS Can Support

One important aspect of IPaaS is that the agency that owns the data is fully in control. Agencies don’t have to settle for whatever capabilities and individual integrations the camera vendor is offering; they can build their own integrations. IT leaders can do so as quickly as they need to, because the IPaaS toolkit is there and designed to be easy to use with a central management console and a quick overview of how data is shared between applications. 


The percentage of state CIOs taking the lead or planning to take the lead on advocating for data as a strategic asset

Source: NASCIO, Grant Thornton and CompTIA, The Responsive State CIO: Connecting to the Customer, November 2019

Another example revolves around “see it/click it/fix it” applications, which are increasingly popular in city and county governments, as a one-stop solution for residents to report problems without having to navigate a complex menu of agencies and jurisdictions. Automating the process of handling this data is critical to keeping costs down and speeding up the response of government services.

Moving data from the end-user application to various city and county systems is an immense programming job. However, with an IPaaS toolkit and hub connecting different systems, the application can be deployed without having to dive into different applications managed by different groups or governmental agencies. It’s not entirely programmer-free, but it’s a lot less programming than would be needed to make direct one-to-one links to every system in the city or county. The results are increased efficiency and near real-time processing. 

EXPLORE: How has the pandemic opened doors for cloud-based data collection and analysis?

Finding the Right IPaaS Vendor for Your Agency

IPaaS products are hard to directly compare, so it isn’t easy for government agencies to simply put vendors in a hat and let procurement teams get the best deal on substitutable products. Finding a IPaaS vendor that works for a government agency means spending time up front clearly defining two major questions.

First, what is the agency trying to accomplish, and what resources are available? An agency could be helping decision-makers with data-based reports and analysis or it could be filling in gaps between applications by keeping information in sync across different platforms. 

Answering that first question and addressing complicating factors of staff expertise, data management and security and access controls should enable IT leaders to create a picture of what they want IPaaS to do.

Second, what type of integration is needed, and what applications and databases are going to be affected? Data elements may be something as vague as photographs or as specific as dates and geographic locations. Still, transformations may be required, and just as important, IT leaders need to determine which applications are housing the data and whether they are on-premises or cloud-based apps. 

The answers to these questions will quickly help disqualify IPaaS vendors that don’t have the technology or expertise to meet an agency’s particular requirements. 

Once IT leaders can clearly describe what they need to accomplish and where the data is hiding, IPaaS vendors will be in a better position to understand the agency’s requirements and explain whether they can help. 

IPaaS may not be a well-known term in the state and local IT world, but it offers significant benefits for agencies looking to easily integrate data from multiple applications and sources.

skynesher, metamorworks/Getty Images

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