Cisco hosted the quarterly meeting of the Joint Policy Collaborative (JPC) yesterday on our San Jose campus with special guests, Mayor Curt Pringle of Anaheim, CA and Toni Cramer, the CIO of Bellevue, WA. The JPC is a project of the Santa Clara County Cities Association, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) and the goal is to collaborate on policy objectives that can be accomplished at the local level with input from industry and government. The group, consisting of mayors and councilmembers from Santa Clara cities, as well as industry representatives, heard some innovative ideas yesterday.
Mayor Pringle is one of those politicians who seems to have an R or a D next to his name only because he has to choose one of them…he really seems to be only concerned with accomplishing what is good for his city. Partisanship, clearly, doesn’t do much for his city, so he steers away from it. In his tenure as mayor he has brought some original thinking and a can-do attitude in approaching the “customer service” aspect of a govenment’s relationship with its citizens.
One of the most innovative things he has done and what seemed to garner the most interest from the meetings’ attendees was his implementation of a “Home Improvement Holiday” -- the waiving of all building permit fees for an 100 day period. Nearly $26M was invested in homes during this time…improving the value of the homes, as well as improving the city’s relationship with its citizens. What does this have to do with technology, you might ask? Not a lot, but what technology can do for government is to fundamentally change the way that citizens view their government…this is where Toni Cramer of Bellevue comes in. She freely admits that she couldn’t necessarily tell the difference between a server and a stereo, but her focus on creating and giving her customers what they want is a philosophy that you don’t hear often enough about in government. She and her team have created many tools to make permitting in her and surrounding cities easier as well as giving companies real-time information about commercial building vacancies that give them the information they need to make informed business decisions…among other things. Please check out: http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/page.asp?view=1026 for some of the tools that she and her team have implemented.
E-government and customer service are great, you say, but what are they doing in broadband? Thanks for asking. Both are implementing their own city-wide wi-fi service. Anaheim is using existing fiber that they have for monitoring traffic via video and Bellevue is building out hot-spots all over the city. I asked CIO Cramer what kind of ROI she was looking for in providing wi-fi city-wide, “It’s not about ROI,” she said, “it’s simply about giving our citizens service.” Interesting and commendable concept.
I went back and re-read my post-honeymoon posting from last week and realized that I had not addressed the more important question: “what would I do without the Internet?” Answer: I’d be absolutely lost.
There seem to be many conversations and discussions about how the Internet contributes to the ills of society, i.e. phishing, censorship, etc. I don’t want to sound polly-annish, but I would submit that there are lot more positive things that have come about from the Internet than negative. I have started a decidely, small list in this vein. Maybe I focus on the positive, not the negative, in general, but I’ve always been a glass half-full kind of guy…
1. I met my wife online…for this I am eternally grateful, as I honestly don’t know if I would have met her otherwise.2. I can scan four papers in the morning in about 30 minutes…of course, east coast papers are generally online at 9:00PM PT, so I can even get a jump on my day starting then…thank you NYTimes.com, Washingtonpost.com, and MercuryNews.com for being free…WSJ.com, well, thanks for being online.3. Who was the guy who played the kid in “Time Bandits” and what has he done since? Thanks to the internet I now know. My quest for knowledge has been sated. (FYI -- He can currently be seen in a small role in “Cinderalla Man.”)4. I can IM a colleague in DC or Brussels with a question and get an answer almost instantaneously.5. I can send an article to friends, colleagues and family and I don’t have to use scissors.6. I do my banking and bill-paying online -- WHICH IS THE GREATEST THING EVER, as I can never seem to find a stamp.7. How do I get from point A to point B? Mapquest, Yahoo Maps, or Google Maps.8. I need to book a flight to Chicago for my wife’s (saying “wife” is still very new to me, but fun!!) family reunion. For me, Expedia or Travelocity. Sometimes, usairways.com or united.com.9. Flight, hotels and cars for my recent honeymoon…all booked online.10. This fascinating blog entry…all done online… : )
Post some of your positive uses of the internet and let’s try to give the Internet a bit of its due rather than jumping on the “internet is the root of all evil” bandwagon. Isn’t it interesting, that most of those who are saying the internet is a bad thing are using the Internet to say it? My advice to them: dust off your printing press.
I wanted to bring the following op-ed to your attention. It was penned by the head of our medical consulting group. He speaks about how technology can streamline systems and processes in the healthcare industry and not only make healthcare delivery more efficient but even make it better.
Here is the bio on Dr. Jeffrey Rideout: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/about/ac79/health/ourleadership.html
Here is the article as printed in today’s San Jose Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/11974248.htm
Happy first day of summer!!!
I just returned from my honeymoon and was completely “off the grid” for the past three weeks. I must say that is was a pretty good feeling. Being connected is a part of my job, as is it is a part of my life, but not having a computer, a cell phone or a PDA for three weeks was…well, liberating. I’m happy to be back at work and plugged in and I obviously could have been plugged in on my travels if I so chose, but I would highly recommend re-booting your connectivity from time to time -- yes, I realize this is heresy from a Cisco employee… : )
I was in Amalfi, Italy staying at a convent that St. Francis of Assisi built in 1222 and I had connectivity there, so I’m guessing I could have connectivity pretty much anywhere. There was wireless in my hotel in Rome as well as Florence and in Marbella, Spain as well. Ubiquitious broadband connectivity is still not here and certainly mobile broadband connectivity is quite a ways from being here, but I must say that even though I did not have connectivity for those three weeks, the fact that I could have had it had I wanted did put me a bit at ease…I’m wondering if I would have had connectivity withdrawal if I really was in an area where I couldn’t connect…here’s hoping that I never have to find out, as knowledge of connectivity is comforting to me.
Thought you’d be interested in this recent profile on CA PUC Commissioner Susan Kennedy who is leading the charge to revamp the state’s telecom policy approach.
Read the full article here or cut and paste the url into your browser: