Over the years, I’ve seen how telepresence technologies revolutionize the way organizations of all sizes do business, but one area where I’m really excited about the potential is within the court system.
Here in Collin County, north of Dallas, our local court system is pushing the envelope when it comes to video technology. In addition to conducting felony pleas via video, a centrally located video system in the courthouse connects attorneys with their clients without having to a make trip to the county jail. Not only does the county’s telepresence technology increase efficiency and cut transportation costs for both attorneys and detainees alike, but it also fosters collaboration and innovation within the justice system. The county’s presiding judge uses the technology to connect with lawyers and judges across the country to share best practices and innovative solutions.
Watch this video featuring the judge, IT directors and attorneys, to see how Collin County is benefiting from telepresence…beyond a reasonable doubt. Read More »
Local government agencies are facing increased pressure to improve agency agility and performance, while creating efficiencies and reducing costs in order to better serve the public, and cloud solutions could be just the answer. Today marks the kick-off of our thought leadership blog series designed to provide local government leaders around the world with specifics on how cloud solutions can enable citizen services and drive transformation for a more connected, more efficient government.
Throughout the series, our industry experts will examine a variety of topics from the value proposition of cloud to a review of how specific agencies are effectively using cloud to meet department imperatives. Below is an example showing how the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain is using cloud to increase its ability to quickly provision new projects, realize operating and capital cost savings, and offer new services to its widely dispersed citizens and workforce.
Two weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a TelePresence roundtable for 46 Public Sector CxO-level executives from 20 locations throughout Europe, Middle-East and Africa (see map below). The event was moderated by Jens Mortensen (Director Central Government & Healthcare, Cisco EMEAR) and the main objectives were:
To present and debate on 3 perspectives of Government Cloud Governance: Policy, Insourcing Model, Outsourcing Model
To share best practices and alternative governance models with peers in different countries
To help shape, plan and implement a proven strategy for government cloud
The CTO of a central ICT agency in Europe reported: “I valued the pragmatic approach (presentations from people in the public sector who actually have a service running) and the possibility to ‘network’ with very relevant people for the cloud project [my organization] is working on).”
The CEO of an ICT Provider for Government agencies reported: “I enjoyed the discussion very much. Clearly there are very many different approaches to implementation of domain cloud solutions for both public and private sector needs based on local supply structures and government culture.”
Government services and convenience are rarely seen within the same sentence; more often than not, the thought of making the trip down to city hall is a sure-fire way to increase one’s blood pressure. Cisco’s efforts around Smart+Connected Communities have continuously focused on identifying these types of pain points – advocating the need to design cities with technology at the core to improve delivery of new citizen services.
Citizen services in France
This month, efforts around the world in France, Spain, Germany, Canada and the United States have showcased the pivotal role of technology in the development of modern-day cities. More and more, the network has become an essential part of a city infrastructure – much like gas and water. When we’re able to implement a scalable intelligent network to create tangible service-delivery points for citizens, what we essentially create is an entirely new business model that promotes a shift in how public services are delivered.
The initiatives detailed throughout this post are not only exciting as an indicator of global acceptance from large communities around the world, but they also serve as a key initial step towards what we can provide with a full suite of transformational services. Through utilizing key technologies that bring access closer to the community, Cisco and its partners are transforming the means in which cities deliver government services.
Spot Mairie in Nice
Cisco is working together with the city and the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan Area to deploy the world’s first fully operational Cisco Remote Expert for Government Services (REGS) solution. Installed at the Nice Étoile shopping mall, a cabin has been fully equipped with a Cisco TelePresence system and collaboration tools to bring government services closer to communities.
Named the ‘Spot Mairie’, this deployment provides real-time access to key services such as certification requests, voter registration, requests for public services and a host of other offerings during regular business hours. Once inside the cabin, citizens interact face-to-face with a remote agent over video and are sent necessary forms remotely via a printer. A mailbox and document scanner is also provided for easy access. Spot Mairie aims to change how citizens perceive the delivery of public services and falls right in line with an agreement signed between the Nice Metropolitan Area and Cisco France for digital development efforts within the area.
Casa Del Mig, Barcelona
Traveling a little farther south, Barcelona City Hall and Cisco recently announced Spain’s first remote expert for government services deployment. As we’ve seen with Nice, Cisco TelePresence technology and collaboration tools have been installed in a booth at the Casa del Mig area of the city, providing citizens with remote access to a variety of government services (customized for that specific region).
This pilot program is a first for Spain and furthers Cisco’s collaboration agreement with the Barcelona City Hall to transform Barcelona into a global reference model for urban innovation.
Addressing the ‘blank spots’ in Germany
At the February meeting of the largest association of German telecommunications operators (BREKO), the Cisco Industry Solutions Group presented a live demo of the remote expert for government services solution to an audience of city and regional carriers – as well as municipal utilities. For a bit of background, the 140 members of BREKO help provide high quality optical fiber access to urban, as well as rural areas – covering the “blank spots.” As a result of the demonstration, we are working now to include the feedback from the association with ideas for improvement and more use cases. At the same time, a collaboration was announced between Cisco and ODR Technologie Services GmBH to help bring this solution to market; making them the first partner in Germany to do so. ODR TSG is developing an initial pilot in the county of Aalen. Stay tuned for more updates on how the solution could be rolled out in the German market.
Municipalities in Ontario, Canada
In Canada, the City of Stratford has been making major strides towards becoming a leader in digital media and infrastructure and was short-listed as one of the top intelligent cities by the ICF. Partnering with Cisco to help deliver the proper networking infrastructure, Stratford is focused on driving investment and innovation to transform the city’s future. Cisco has begun working with several progressive municipalities in Ontario to deploy REGS solution pilots. Forward-thinking municipalities – including Stratford – will trial remote expert for government services kiosks to deliver access to municipal government services/information and help further drive Smart+Connected Communities initiatives in the area. By utilizing technology to improve citizen services and provide greater ease of access, these pilots are another glimpse into what the future holds for a Smart+Connected Canada.
Remote Expert 1.8 Introduced
Building on the momentum we’ve seen globally with Cisco’s overall remote expert solutions across several vertical industries, we’re also excited to announce a solution update with Remote Expert 1.8. New capabilities continue our efforts around enabling partners to better connect customers with subject matter experts via immersive, virtual environments. These new features include scalable support, video in queue functionality for TelePresence and the integration of Cisco MediaSense to deliver audio recording, in addition to others. Furthermore, a newly enhanced Remote Expert Services Portfolio includes planning, building and management services to support a secure solution that effectively integrates with customers’ existing process and infrastructures – and to deliver the highest quality experience.
Connected Justice in Texas
Interactive Touch Pad. Photo: BILLY CALZADA, San Antonio Express-News
In other areas around the world, we’ve also seen how other Cisco technologies have been used to address the pressing challenge of delivering new citizen services. We turn now to the great state of Texas, where the Cisco Connected Justice solution is transforming the administration of routine court tasks and allowing city officials to improve court processes.
Connected Justice Kiosk. Photo: BILLY CALZADA, San Antonio Express-News
Last year, the city of San Antonio, Texas announced the deployment of interactive video kiosks for citizens to resolve Municipal Court offenses from right in their own neighborhood. Devised by Municipal Court Presiding Judge John Bull, court manager Jason Tabor and Cisco, these remote expert kiosks enable a live, interactive video feed where residents can speak with Judge Alfredo Tavera about their cases and the options available to them. The service allows up to 20 people to be linked via Cisco TelePresence to the court at one time and a touch screen with interactive pad is provided for ease of use.
This month, residents in San Antonio will find an up-and-running kiosk right in their own neighborhood grocery store. Resolving a traffic ticket won’t ever be pleasant, but at least it’ll be more convenient now. Additional kiosks are already available within a local community center outside of downtown. Collin County, TX has also explored the use of kiosks in their court system and is in the midst of deployment. All in all, these services are helping transform the means in which we deal with every day circumstances like traffic violations.
Delivering citizen services remotely in Barcelona
The Bigger Picture
The developments in these global regions provide a crucial step in the broader effort to transform cities around the world. Having the ability to access government services from somewhere as casual and accessible as a shopping mall is an important indicator of what’s possible. In Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities vision, the Internet can be the key platform in city planning and development efforts. As we see it, the Internet of Everything has a pivotal role in powering an amazing future – one in which the intelligent connection of people, process, data and things on the network will transform our cities and the way in which we conduct our day-to-day lives.
As our friends and colleagues in the United States participate in Telework Week, you may like to know that us Aussies also held our own Telework Week in November 2012 based on the success of US Telework Week.
Australian Telework Week successfully put the idea of working from anywhere uppermost in the minds of employees, who are increasingly looking to use their mobile devices in more aspects of their lives, and employers who are looking to increase productivity and cut costs.
The media is full of reports of how Australians are voting with their feet and demanding more mobile device friendly services; whether that is banking and finance, shopping, news and media, books, music, games, social media or simply booking a flight, restaurant or tickets to the movies.
It is the same for small, medium and larger businesses, government agencies and organisations who are learning about the benefits of employing and deploying a mobile workforce, such as cost savings, increased productivity, lower environmental impact, higher employee engagement and retention, continuity of operations and improved staff well being.
A report released by global consulting firm Deloitte Access Economics during Telework Week said that telework ‘would be the biggest structural change to the labour market this decade.’ That means telework will play a significant role in disrupting traditional employment models now and for the next 7 years and beyond.
As technologies continue to evolve and access to fast broadband speeds increases, the barriers to ‘working your way‘ are coming down rapidly.
But the biggest hurdle to the widespread adoption of teleworking is the resistance from managers who are challenged by the concept of not having staff sitting outside the office door. Despite the evidence that presenteeism is not a guarantee of productivity, there is some comfort for managers in knowing that they are better able to manage their staff if they are within earshot.
While business leaders may buy into the telework revolution and workers themselves are on board – it is the group in the middle who are most likely to resist a move toward an anywhere workforce, partly because training for managers revolves around traditional models that have not caught up with the disruption that the global shift toward a digital economy has caused.
My solution to shift resistance to telework is to let Dracula run the blood bank and adopt a Telework First policy where all new hire workers are offered telework, where their job permits it.
The cliché about putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank is often used negatively to suggest that he would drink it dry and there would be no blood supplies available for crucial life-saving purposes.
However, Dracula is, after all, an economic rationalist who will act in his best long-term interests. Being immortal, short termism is not on his radar!
A rationalist Dracula would recognize that it is in his long term interests to not only run the blood bank in a sustainable way, but to find ways to increase the productivity of the blood bank and boost the supply of blood available for both his needs and that of the wider community. In that way, Dracula benefits from access to a regular supply and the community benefits from a more efficiently and effectively run blood service.
Similarly, by adopting a Telework First policy -- and allowing as many employees as possible to telework -- some managers might say workers would be tempted to slack off at home or the local café, golf course or beach and productivity would drop.
But it is more likely that employees would highly value the additional flexibility that teleworking brings to their lives as well as the improved wellbeing they experience from teleworking and their productivity would improve.
Cisco’s employee retention rate among teleworkers is higher than those working in traditional, office based roles. In addition, a Melbourne University Research paper says that teleworkers report increased well-being and productivity, because teleworking helps them take more control over their working and non-working life.
Telework is a good thing for managers in the long run as they get more productivity from their staff, improved well-being, employee retention and cost savings.
The US government’s Telework Enhancement Act 2010 promotes a Telework First policy -- and the world is taking notice!
The Australian government announced during Australian Telework Week that 12% of its workforce would telework regularly by 2020, a pledge made the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard, who launched Australian Telework Week.
While not quite letting Dracula run the blood bank, it is a step in the right direction and the Australian community has embraced it.
Managing change in organisations can be difficult, particularly when existing management methods are entrenched and new ways of work challenge the status quo. But there is a peaceful revolution taking place in the community with the ubiquitous adoption of mobile devices and they are infiltrating into the workplace, with or without the knowledge of IT Departments.
As Australian National Telework Week demonstrated, employers are increasingly realizing the value of having a mobile workforce.