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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, From “Techno” Tears to Confidence (Perspective from Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Communities Forum)

Not long ago this joke was buzzing around the Internet:

Question:  Why was the computer late to work?

Answer: Because it had a hard drive.

David Letterman does not have to look over his shoulder but the corny little joke is loaded with possibilities for a discussion about the power of the Cloud and communities.

As the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2013 make their way toward New York this week for the annual dialogue among 250 invited global thought leaders (including Cisco’s Dr. Norman Jacknis, who will give this year’s “Revolutionary Community” keynote talk), the ingredients for the secret sauce used to re-energize communities for the 21st Century will be revealed by its “chefs. “ I am guessing that one of the revealed secrets will be that the idea of being late for work has become passé.  Connectivity, when invested in properly, unleashes a new knowledge workforce and revives communities that have been looking for ways for their local economies to flourish.  Certainly broadband connectivity and more affordable access to the cloud remain big drivers for community revival and at least part of the secret toward solving many problems, including commuting and productivity.

So is vision.  Attendees will also hear from people like BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis , who will discuss why he believes quantum computing will be the next silicon for his community, Waterloo, Canada, the 2007 Intelligent Community of the Year.  He has invested CAN$250 million in a fund to begin to make it so.  He has the right environment.  Waterloo, a city of only 120,000 people, produced 10% of all the publicly-traded companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2007.  This was not an accident.  It shares traits with Intelligent Communities everywhere.

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, Cloud and Law Enforcement (Part Two): The Time Has Come for Police-Force CIOs To Begin Focusing on Cloud

This is the second in a two-part blog series that examines the opportunities that cloud-based services offer to law enforcement agencies—along with the challenges of this fundamental shift in the way information resources are managed.

Information systems are at the core of all police organizations. Policing is an information business—arrests are made on the basis of information received and shared; intelligence is generated from analyzing data; and operational effectiveness depends on knowing where resources are.

Police organizations have been dependent on computers for 50 years, and police IT departments have been set up to procure and manage them. The development of the cloud has the potential to drive change. But, if we look away from innovative areas such as crowdsourced crime reporting and social media, adoption is slow. Why is this the case?

Cloud-like services are not new in policing. Since the 1970s, U.K. forces have benefited from the availability of information services provided by third parties in the form of the Police National Computer and, later, the DNA database and the national fingerprint system. These services have been provided by public-sector organizations—sometimes in collaboration with private-sector providers—and could be seen as a private-cloud service.

At issue now, though, is not just the provision of external information services. Cloud computing also raises the possibility of forces accessing critical internal systems via the cloud. This could include ERP, intelligence systems, command and control, and case management.

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, Cloud and Law Enforcement (Part One): U.K.’s Facewatch Service Benefits Police, Businesses, and Citizens

This is the first in a two-part blog series that examines the opportunities that cloud-based services offer to law enforcement agencies—along with the challenges of this fundamental shift in the way information resources are managed.

Police forces have a well-established culture of owning and managing systems directly founded on concerns about security and control of access to information. Three trends, however, make this position unsustainable:

  • Traditional models for acquiring and running systems, which slow the pace of innovation
  • Pressure to reduce costs
  • Increasing need to form partnerships with other police agencies, public-sector bodies, and the private sector. Partnership depends on information sharing and open approaches to developing systems.

One of the most radical—and successful—cloud-based public-safety and security services is Facewatch. Using a network-based model, Facewatch provides an online reporting tool that allows U.K. businesses and citizens to report crimes and attach video evidence. The service enables crime victims to cancel credit cards instantly through Facewatch’s partners; allows users to share images of wanted people; and provides a channel for feedback from the police on the outcomes of cases.

Facewatch offers immediate benefits to the public, businesses, and law enforcement:

  • Citizens: ease of reporting and rapid management of associated processes
  • Businesses: less time required to deal with incidents
  • Law enforcement: reduces or eliminates the need to interact directly with premises to recover video footage

For all users, there is greater transparency about processes and reporting on outcomes, as well as the ability for communities to share information about wanted persons and crime trends.

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, Project “Brain Gain” & The Rice Bomber (Perspective from Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Communities Forum)

In Taiwan they discovered a natural resource which is badly needed everywhere, but which at least two Intelligent Communities have developed in an endless supply.  This resource was at first difficult to mine and to harvest, but now it is easy and continues to add wealth to the national economy.  It also adds social capital in the form of low unemployment, pride and a reawakened sense of community and culture.   It was discovered close to home.  In fact right inside the home.  In two communities, both with urban and rural populations, it has helped resolve the “digital divide” and, as one CEO told me, turn the divide into dividends.   The resource is called human intelligence.  We once called it “brainpower.”  Companies like Cisco refer to it as “the human network.”  I think of it as “Brain Gain.”  All of us are right.

In a small nation like Taiwan, which has no oil, rare minerals or raw materials that can be extracted and exported around the world, an economic engine has been created using basic cultural talent increasingly harnessed to the Internet.  In the Intelligent Community of Taichung, a city of about 2.7 million, you will find the world’s third largest exporter of high tech precision machinery equipment.  Taichung is also home to Giant Bicycle, the largest producer of those high-end bicycles used by racing professionals and cycling enthusiasts worldwide.  Giant has design offices in The Netherlands and nearly 50% of its sales come from dealers in North America and Europe.  The company employs 200 people to work in R&D alone.  Rather than resource extraction of commodities such as coal or timber, which are the traditional items for many export-driven economies, including nearby China, the exports of Taichung and Taoyuan County are  based on the production or refining of industrial and recreational (or what I call “re-creative”) products.  These arise from R&D, applying added value for higher margin sales and an increasingly important layer of hard-to-match technological or logistical processing.  Each is designed by human intelligence, collaboration and massive data sharing and data management.  Each relies on the Cloud and an educational network which takes advantage of the Cloud’s ability to eliminate the barriers of distance.

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Lending a Helping Hand to Miriam’s Kitchen

I am excited to share the news of Cisco’s new partnership with Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C., near my home. Miriam’s Kitchen is committed to ending homelessness in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area by providing homeless persons with access to meals, counseling, clean clothes, medical care, permanent housing, and by ensuring they have the necessary support to remain in housing. Miriam’s Kitchen served 71,948 meals in 2012 and expects to serve 73,500 meals in 2013.

This is a wonderful organization doing good work for my local community. To help them feed and clothe even more homeless persons, Cisco has provided Miriam’s Kitchen with a $25,000 grant. The grant will help provide support for Miriam’s Kitchen’s meals and case management programs, which provide food and a range of services to thousands of people every day. Read More »

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