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Veterans See Improved Access to Healthcare

It’s truly amazing to think about the possibilities that advances in technology have unlocked.  No longer do the barriers of time and distance have to limit the ability for anyone to access education, healthcare and government services.  We can now connect with the push of a button. And often, it allows us to help the people who need it most.

I recently read an article by Bryant Jordan of Military.com that discusses how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is changing the lives of veterans across the U.S. and helping meet their unique healthcare needs via telehealth. Veterans are able to meet with primary care physicians and specialists from the comfort of their home, minimizing the pain and hassle of traveling to medical facilities, which are often many miles away.  There’s no doubt technology has provided convenience and improved access to healthcare, but the VA has seen other positive results as well. By increasing veterans’ ability to access medical professionals and services, improving follow-up and ongoing services, inpatient bed days have been reduced by 58% and admissions have declined by 38%.  Read More »

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Midland County, Texas Builds Library of the Future

July 18, 2013 at 8:48 am PST

What happens when libraries transform from traditional, quiet places to engaging spaces that inspire learning? The old perceptions of libraries are swept away and energized by interactive, connected learning for the entire community.

That’s exactly what the strategy is at the Midland County Library in Texas. When the county decided to upgrade one of its public libraries, it was determined to create an innovative facility to change people’s perceptions of a traditional library.  The library partnered with Cisco to develop its IT infrastructure, incorporating interactive technology to entice new populations to visit the library, creating “the library of the future.” As a result, the Midland County Library now has a state-of-the-art, interactive facility, featuring digital walls, e-book rentals and training programs on how to use new technology.

As I’ve written today on the education blog, the technology transformation is proving successful; since its opening, the new library has had more than 1,000 visitors daily.

This weekend, if you are attending the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual conference in Fort Worth, join me for Midland County’s 8am workshop on Sunday -- Using Interactive Technology to Drive Citizen Engagement in room 202 D.

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Intelligent Communities Global Blog Series, The Future of Our Smart Communities: Services

One of the great challenges every municipality faces is how to deliver higher quality services to its citizens and businesses while their budgets consistently seem to shrink. Several of Canada’s leading communities are taking a pro-active role and are experimenting with shared services (an outsourcing or regional consolidation model); and almost all of them are looking at the Internet to be a low-cost channel for services delivery. Both these and other strategies are all the right steps towards a smarter and connected reality. Municipal leaders, however, recognized that one can’t quite eliminate the much needed face to face interactions with its constituents while delivering high-touch services–both from a quality and a security perspective.

Surely, the transformation of governmental services can’t be a burden that should solely rest on the shoulders of the municipality, although it is understood that they are the closest connected to the real needs and concerns of citizens and businesses in Canada. But what about the Federal services for which I have to go to Service Canada (I truthfully sat in their waiting room this week for 90 minutes so I could submit paperwork for a passport renewal)? Or Provincial services for which I need to go to Service Ontario? Passports, driver licenses, health cards, marriage certificates…does anyone still know for what to go where? Add to this Canada Post with its 6,500 services outlets. Or the municipal library systems (where there is more than books). And community centers all around the country for outreach and engagement.

Read More »

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Intelligent Communities Global Blog Series, Taichung Sets the Stage (Perspective from Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Communities Forum)

The Taiwan city of Taichung was in the spotlight twice this year.  Not bad for a place few had heard of in most parts of the Western world -- at least until the Academy Awards broadcast in February.  During that event, Asian-born director Ang Lee, after being named the recipient of four Oscars for his film Life of Pi, thanked Taichung in his acceptance speech for its technical prowess.  Those bragging rights were celebrated.  Four months later the city had something else to claim.  In June, the city’s Secretary-General (the equivalent of City Manager in the United States), Ms Ching-Chih Liao, stood on the stage at Steiner Film Studios in New York to accept the Intelligent Community of the Year award on behalf of Taichung’s 2.7 million citizens and its charismatic mayor, Jason Hu. An international jury and a research company had ranked this city higher (by a few hundredths of a point) than the six other communities that had been invited to New York for their impressive achievement as innovative, job-creating places which used technology to enable growth.

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Madame Liao noted the hard work that her community has done to balance its rural and urban economies, and the role that both broadband and the cloud play to support an infrastructure upon which innovation and technology companies thrive and add value in a place once known as “The Mechanical Kingdom.”

To understand why Taichung went so far in the awards program, it is important to understand that it first grasped the basic importance of the layer of physical infrastructure (telecommunications) and how it would next lead to its ability to exceed at ICF’s other five criteria, including innovation and a knowledge workforce poised to grow its middle-class.

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Florida Department of Highway Safety at Cisco Live!

This week at Cisco Live!, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spoke on a government customer roundtable. Rob Fields, the CIO for the Department provided insight into the challenges that he faced with legacy equipment, the organization’s technology vision and plans for the future.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety had purchased lowest bid, low-quality networking equipment prior to Fields’ appointment as CIO. He knew that before he could accomplish any of his technology goals he had to rebuild the network with Cisco from the ground up.

Around this time the State of Florida imposed a travel ban, which was negatively affecting personnel throughout the department. Fields and his team had already been looking at video solutions following the network upgrade, but the travel ban gave them an even greater sense of urgency. “We installed video solutions at 15 locations and began conducting Florida Highway Patrol command staff meetings, remote interviews, and field manager meetings, over video and immediately saw ROI. It was a huge success,” said Fields. Read More »

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