Can local governments improve the overall citizen experience, and at the same time increase workforce productivity? Yes, and cities are doing it now. Providing on-demand access to innovative services, whenever and wherever, opens up a whole new world to local government.
“We had a hard time meeting constituent and customer expectations,” says Jorge Pazos, chief information officer, City of Melrose. “Melrose residents go home, and on the train they can open up their iPad, they can program what’s going to be on their DVR that night, they can rearrange their Netflix queue, do banking, and pay bills, and then they come to municipal government, and it was like going back to the 1970s.”
I am drafting this blog on my laptop, sitting in the Embassy Suites lounge in Raleigh, North Carolina, enjoying the complimentary breakfast buffet. I share this not to disclose my breakfast habits, nor my whereabouts but to illustrate that we are relying more and more on mobile devices to keep us connected, both professionally and personally. In fact analysts predict that by the end of 2013, 80 percent of companies will allow BYOD (bring your own device) for employees.
As today’s workers embrace mobility, they have expectations that their experience outside of the office should mirror their experience inside the office. With mobility trends like telework and BYOD on the rise, it’s important that government organizations stay ahead of technology trends to better deliver their employees with the right tools that allow them to collaborate from anywhere at any time. Read More »
Great challenges can bring great opportunities to any business, and with the inevitability of cloud on the horizon, IT organizations will need to embrace this change. Taking the first, second or even third step can be scary, but the return on taking such risks will pay off so long as the IT organization champions the deployment.
Cisco itself has also had to face these risks of deploying cloud, and has already embarked on the private cloud (IaaS) journey —all the way from virtualizing the compute, network, and storage resources to integrating change management, and metering services for “pay as you use”.
Some of the challenges that we encountered typical that other IT organizations could face in cloud adoption were:
• Ensuring security. Each cloud solution has to be matched to appropriate security capabilities. The new capabilities may include centralized management (vs. trying to manage firewalls on ever-changing edges or trying to manage security on each endpoint), scalable multi-tenant architectures, real-time threat analysis and dynamic mitigation delivery.
• Navigating the required steps. Even the public cloud model is never one-size-fits-all. A successful cloud initiative requires several best practice steps, which occur in three phases:
Plan, including aligning the business and architecture strategies, planning and design, and security.
Build, including staging, testing, and implementing solutions and systems integration.
Manage, including network assurance, remote monitoring/diagnostics/alerts, optimization, and support.
• Establishing the business justification. Calculate the projected and actual ROI from cloud project expenses for equipment and services.
It’s very rare for any IT organization to already have all the in-house expertise and experience that’s required for a cloud project. This will eventually happen, but IT organizations can fast-track their cloud initiatives by partnering with a company that understands the cloud journey.
Cisco Services has a proven methodology for implementing private clouds that can help ensure your agency makes a smooth and effective transition to cloud. It starts with the Cisco Domain TenSM discussion to identify where you need to focus among ten crucial areas:
New cloud platforms are rapidly transforming government IT—just as client/server and mainframe/terminal platforms did in decades past.
If you embark on the cloud journey, you’re committing to an exciting and long-term opportunity. And when you step out your door to head to work each day, you’ll be an agent of change for your organization and your career.
I’m curious, what do you see as the biggest challenges to a government entity adopting a cloud model?
Stay tuned to view upcoming installations of the Cloud for Local Government blog series or click here to register and reserve your copy of the complete compilation of the blog series, including this blog as well as a variety of cloud resources, which will be available in May.
Chances are, you’ve heard this line or a variation thereof before: “Video conferencing improves collaboration and lowers costs for organizations around the world.” While this is true, for this blog, I want to focus on ways video is changing government by sharing the story of two government agencies that are using video in new and unique ways.
We frequently hear how important it is to “do more with less.” In the face of sequestrations and reduced traveling budgets, this is a reality, and agencies are turning to alternatives like video conferencing. Video technologies such as telepresence are streamlining government processes and increasing collaboration, all while cutting costs. Read More »
In my last blog, I discussed the benefits of Smart City cloud management capabilities. An intelligent IP-enabled network unites multiple services onto one infrastructure, allowing for tight operations management and lower expenses. Operating this network remotely, through the cloud, further enhances the capability for sustainable, effective city management.
As Smart City visions emerge in various projects in local government, we will see a combination of new ways of thinking, designing, planning, executing, and managing. Busan, South Korea has already discovered the powerful benefits of cloud infrastructure to create Smart+Connected Communities solutions. The government partnered with companies to create a Mobile Application Center to utilize city assets and the connected network. (You can also watch a video series, “Cities of the Future,” on Songdo, South Korea and how this new connected Smart City was designed, planned, and built.)
There are some important steps that other cities and governments can take to harness the power of the cloud to become more connected, efficient, and sustainable. A process on how to answer the Smart City call to action is further outlined in Cisco’s POV paper, “Smart City Framework,” and video.
1. Use one intelligent, multiservice IP network.
This is the overarching mantra of a Smart City—connect systems and services to improve city livability. While it can seem daunting, it’s important to remember the long-term benefits of a connected city, especially using cloud management. Some of the most promising Smart City projects have shown that it’s possible to use the network to achieve some major goals of state and local government, including efficient city management and economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
Savvy government leaders are recognizing the untapped power of the network and incorporating its potential into the early stages of planning and development. Many cities have experimented with including information and communications technology (ICT) solutions through small-scale “proof of concept” projects. Since budgets are so limited, it can be difficult to adopt a purely centralized approach, which means trying new techniques and learning from the enterprise sector.
2. Build a foundation for public-private partnerships.
Government agencies and city leaders cannot create smart, connected urban communities alone. Frameworks are needed for relationships between the public and private sectors.
Winning strategies seem to be the ones that enable citizens, business leaders, and policymakers to drive job growth, increase economic opportunity, and provide improved citizen services. The goal is simple: enable effective partnerships by linking governments with private enterprises and citizen organizations focused on creating economically competitive, socially cohesive, and environmentally clean communities. Innovative ICT solutions can be critical tools for those reinventing enterprise, government, and city services. This kind of collaboration between the public and private sectors can provide successful conditions for these new business models, which—ideally—encourage the private sector to take a more active role in upgrading city services and infrastructure.
3. Regulations are needed to standardize the uses of ICT.
Governments regulate the three traditional utilities—water, gas, and electricity—with a clear and consistent framework. City leaders are discovering that the broadband network has become the fourth utility. Regulations are necessary to standardize the uses of ICT in developing new urban communities and in providing services to the public.
It is essential to consider design principles for Smart City network regulations that can accelerate development. Governments should consider their role, and the desired outcome of regulations. Incorporating ICT requirements and standardized procedures into Smart City developments will take serious consideration and planning.
As cities continue to experiment with the network and cloud, there will be fantastic opportunities to hear from leaders about their progress, mistakes, and opportunities to readjust. In September, Meeting of the Minds will offer a podium for leaders to discuss what has happened thus far in their journey to become a Smart City, and what is to come in the future. If you are considering next steps to become a Smart City, I would highly recommend this event. As we all work to become more connected, efficient, and sustainable, collaboration among all companies, individuals, and organizations is vital.
Stay tuned to the Cisco Government blog for the next installment of the cloud for local government blog series or click here to register and reserve your copy of the complete compilation of the blog series, including this two-part blog as well as a variety of cloud resources, which will be available in May.