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Key to the development of effective public sector strategies for resilience, innovation, and productivity is the ability to navigate at unprecedented scale and speed, complex and distributed communities (networks) of information, people, and things. By tapping the power of these networks, communities can effectively share ideas, expertise, and knowledge, encouraging richer levels of participation.

Smart City development and services through partnerships, collaboration, and community was a major theme at the London Policy Conference (#lonconf) on December 12-13, 2011. Jointly hosted by IPPR, a leading UK think tank, and London’s new think tank, The Centre for London (incubated by Demos), the conference was a platform and network for all those with an interest in London’s future. Sponsored by Cisco alongside other private and public organizations, senior leaders from the public, NGO, and private sectors convened to discuss the major policy challenges facing London and how its future might be best shaped.

To address resilience in a world of complex and distributed risk, governments must redefine the relationship between the center, where power and authority often reside, and the edge, where creativity and innovation ignite and flourish. Increased use of pervasive, distributed information systems and, more importantly, the practice of co-development and co-production, are changing the rules within government and beyond traditional state policies and governance boundaries. Collaboration, knowledge, and decision-making is becoming democratized, as technology augments social reach; increases social inclusion; and improves government transparency.

Cisco IBSG believes that six key trends are reshaping citizen participation and democracy. Governments and communities can explore them to design, develop, and deliver better policies, regulations, and services:

  1. Open data and the use of information for innovation and transparency
  2. “Big data”—heterogeneous data sets and better methods for analyzing big data for major social, economic, and environmental challenges
  3. Open innovation and peer production
  4. User-centered design thinking
  5. Value of networked place-making
  6. Investments in trust through better engagement and participation among citizens and communities

The ability to connect highly distributed networks of people, expertise, and assets for common and shared action is becoming critical in a world of transitions and turbulence. Socio-networked resilience is key to a new organizing principle for how the network intermediates, facilitates, and increasingly leads human interactions.

Innovation and community participation are enabled through public-private vehicles, providing an experimentation “sandbox” for new models of collaboration. Networks and related IT systems—including sensors, data centers, and IP-connected devices—provide a solid, secure, and reliable infrastructure over which individuals, businesses, and governments can deliver innovative, scalable solutions (applications, services, and new business models) that address challenges and help form resilient communities. In this way, government and enterprise become enablers of public value creation through multi-stakeholder public-private partnerships. Furthermore, network investments through public and private means provide the foundation for civic operations, service delivery platforms, citizen applications, and open innovation.

There are three key actions public and private sector leaders and individuals can take to achieve economic, social, and resilient outcomes:

  1. Design, build, and test new systems, platforms, practices, and provisioning processes so that governments and communities can learn the practice of “connectedness.”
  2. Grow and nurture communities of influence and practice (thinkers, practitioners, senior public leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs) to encourage discussions on and the practice of open and connected governance models.
  3. Monitor and measure the transition to multi-stakeholder, participatory innovation and understand how governments and public sector institutions are performing as they combine innovation and productivity in the search for resilience.

Turning the networked society concept into practical initiatives that governments and communities can adopt relies on 1) new business and organizational models for innovation and productivity, and 2) new approaches to analyzing the interactions among data connections, applications, and communities to achieve resilient outcomes.

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