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Customer Spotlight: Idaho Transportation Department Creates Cohesive Communications Environment

While Idaho isn’t a very populous state, with only 1.5 million people, it stretches across 83,000 million square miles. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is responsible for all transportation-related efforts in that area, from highway construction to the Department of Motor Vehicles. But with only 1,800 employees, that can be a real challenge! As ITD employees crisscross the state to ensure all transportation is running smoothly, they rely on a host of communications tools to stay connected with the department headquarters in Boise and other workers on the road.

Despite the amount the customer relied on communications tools to function, the department didn’t actually have a unified communications environment. Instead, employees just used whatever communications tools were available, purchasing and deploying new tools as they needed them. The result was a hodgepodge of tools that didn’t all fit together well and made for both inefficient communication and negative financial repercussions.

To control costs and create an easy and cohesive communications infrastructure, ITD went looking for a unified communications (UC) environment to address the challenge. After an internal audit and careful research, ITD chose to deploy a suite of Cisco collaboration tools, which included voice, video, data communications, IP phones, a call management system, Cisco WebEx, and Cisco Jabber.

Now, all of ITD’s employees have a suite of communications tools that work together seamlessly, are user-friendly, and expand the opportunities for employees to collaborate. The UC environment has also reduced long-term IT costs for the department and given them a successful model of how to quickly and successfully roll-out new communications in the future.

To read more about how Idaho Transportation Department is reaping the rewards of their new UC environment, check out the full case study. You can also go here to learn more about how Cisco collaboration tools can help your agency.

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Schenectady Gets Smarter: Mayor Announces New Smart City Commission

The City of Schenectady, New York has long been on the forefront of the Smart Cities movement, utilizing new technology to help improve its municipal services and government operations. The city’s goal is to become a fully integrated, connected city by implementing a wireless network that takes advantage of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the networked connection of people, process, data, and things.

To work towards this goal, the city has rolled out numerous IoE-based projects designed to improve city life in a variety of areas based on an outdoor City-owned Wi-Fi network that can perform multiple simultaneous tasks. For example, the city has installed a smart LED lighting system in the downtown area, which will allow them to automatically brighten or dim the lights to help save on energy costs. The smart lighting system will automatically report on broken lights so they can be fixed faster, ensuring citizens feel safe downtown. The city is also testing out a smart parking system, which uses cameras to monitor open parking spots. The same cameras can help police fight crime and give citizens a live view of their streets to feel safer at night. These projects have allowed Schenectady to both save taxpayer money and increase the quality of services it is providing to its citizens, and the city continues to look to the future using technology to attract new business and startups.

This past week, Mayor Gary R. McCarthy announced the appointment of a Smart City commission, designed to help Schenectady further take advantage of new technology to improve the quality of life for its residents. The commission will work on a variety of technology and sustainability initiatives, focusing on the next generation of wireless communications and product development. This new commission will allow Schenectady to continue to grow and expand as a connected city, and will only bring more benefits to its citizens. As the new commission chairman Mark Little put it: “It’s all about making Schenectady the best place it can be to live and to work.”

Learn more about how Cisco’s Connected+Smart Cities solutions can help your city!

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New Year’s Resolutions for CIOs

As 2016 begins, people all around the world are making resolutions to improve themselves in the coming year. While you might be dedicating yourself exercising more and eating healthier, I encourage everyone in government IT to think about resolutions you can make to help your organizations better embrace digital transformation.

In no role is this more necessary than the Chief Information Officer (CIO), a position that has changed in recent years and continues to evolve. Instead of just overseeing technical assistance across a department or agency, many government CIOs now serve as a partners who help leadership develop the strategies and processes to accomplish the organization’s mission. And in 2016, the CIOs’ role in decision-making processes will only get larger as government agencies at all levels—federal, state and local—look to better integrate technology to enhance the mission, whether it’s improving citizen services at home or enhancing operations for our defense and intelligence agencies.

In order to fully embrace that responsibility, CIOs should consider making some resolutions for themselves and their job so they can keep up with the latest trends and ensure their organization is reaping the benefits of new technology.

Our own distinguished engineer Kapil Bakshi recently wrote an article on Nextgov about this topic, outlining four main resolutions that government CIOs should consider making in 2016. These resolutions are:

  1. Embrace hybrid
  2. Take Analytics to the next level
  3. Invest in advanced threat detection
  4. Unleash “Fast IT”

Check out the article here to learn more about the details of each resolution and why they are so critical for a CIO to consider in the coming year. By embracing these and other resolutions, CIOs and the larger government IT community will be able to harness the best technology solutions and increase the efficiency, security and agility of their organizations.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

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Customer Spotlight: Aurora, Illinois is now the City of Light Speed

Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois, and its municipal government employees are spread across 52 different buildings. This means that the ability to collaborate with these dispersed locations is extremely important – our goal is to ensure that city employees can provide the highest level of service to our residents.

Our problem, historically, was that the city was using a mix of networking equipment from a host of different providers, making our infrastructure difficult to manage and use. This weak network prevented us from using distance-bridging technologies such as video conferencing, and it limited employee access to computer applications such as email, payroll and purchasing

To tackle these network inefficiencies, my team and I began to look at ways to use advanced fiber optics to replace our aging copper network. But we were relatively new to fiber optic technology, and our city needed a partner that could provide expertise.

Enter Cisco. Not only did the Cisco team have the fiber optic capability and know-how we needed, but we were also able to collaborate on a cutting-edge approach to network systems. Together, we decided to leverage fiber networks using an advanced color optic system, which increases network reliability and performance.

By installing Cisco technologies that optimize fiber based on light color, our city was able to run multiple networks over the same strands. To our satisfaction, we were then able to stretch the network for more coverage while still retaining high availability.

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#WednesdayWalkabout Series Finale: Building a Global Digital Community

Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

We’re ready, are you?

We are now in an age so normalized by the proliferation of technology that the United Nations has declared access to the Internet a basic human right and securing ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband is a common goal around the world. Communities and countries are actively engaged in learning how to best capture the unparalleled advantages that can be realized across the urban landscape. As smart digital communities cover more and more of the global map, the social, economic, political, and environmental benefits afforded to broadly-connected digital societies are becoming crystal clear.

Technology has and will continue to dramatically change the world. It already affects all of our lives in myriad ways. Digital transformation or digitization—the connection of objects, devices, sensors, cameras, machines, and people to the Internet—has now emerged as the most transformative means to ignite sustainable growth and improve society. Those countries and communities that get ahead and embrace digital innovation will uncover limitless possibilities to drive change, embrace economic growth, attract talent for jobs of the future, reduce their carbon footprint, and keep citizens happy and healthy.

Around the World in 106 (Business) Days

Since July, we’ve met you here each Wednesday to discuss and explore important themes, challenges, and observations of digital transformation. We’ve visited cities, countries, schools, hospitals, and businesses around the world that all share one common thread in their story—the quest toward digitization. Taken together, this series demonstrate the significance of digital technology innovation in shaping our future.

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