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Kick-off: A Blog Series about Public Safety and Security for Government Agencies

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is changing the game for public safety. Through connected smart technologies, public safety agencies can continue to drive the needle forward as they serve their growing populations even as budgets remain constrained. Today’s deputies and officers are accustomed to a mobile world and expect these technologies to be commonplace on the job to improve situational awareness for law enforcement and first responders.

First responders pioneered robust and reliable communications. Police and fire radio systems remain workhorses of the professions. But IoE promises new levels of connectivity for personnel in the field, synthesizing real-time data for swift situational awareness. Through the variety of Cisco collaboration and wireless solutions, public safety agencies can provide first responders with real-time information to improve their situational awareness and on-location effectiveness.

Smart technologies are a force multiplier for public safety agencies and unlock the power of collaboration to improve the safety of communities. Improved practices can knock down barriers in agencies and prevent wasted funds and man-hours. For example, Cisco Connected Justice allows courts, correctional leaders and other key decision makers to perform their duties regardless of location to improve the speed and safety of the courts process. Also, consider the transport of inmates from jails to courtrooms. With every hearing, there is a lengthy and expensive checklist of costs to get the inmate to and from the hearing safely and efficiently. Using on-site TelePresence, courtroom proceedings can be conducted on-site directly with inmates – vastly reducing flight risk and enhancing safety.

Today kicks off a series of blogs that will lead up to this year’s IACP Annual Conference in October where attendees will explore the powerful advantages smart technologies provide law enforcement agencies. Over the next few months, my colleagues and I will share stories about how agencies are improving the safety of communities, saving time, reallocating resources and cutting costs by using Cisco technologies. The next blog will feature the city of McAllen, TX where law enforcement is using Cisco TelePresence in its warrant process to accelerate the investigation process within the department and provide immediate access to judges with video adjudication moving forward.

Last month, I participated in a Public Safety panel to discuss how local government and law enforcement are using Cisco technologies to address the scope of environmental challenges sheriffs face. Explore insights from the panel here. You can also go to our website to learn more about Cisco’s solutions for public safety agencies. To learn more about Connected Justice from the users’ perspective, keep an eye out for Judge Patterson’s upcoming blog series this month that will explore technology in the courtroom. There is a lot happening around public safety and security. I look forward to continuing to share insights and agency success stories as we continue to adopt and evolve with new technologies.

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Security Is a Top Priority for Feds and Should Be Moving Forward

It’s no secret that security is top priority for the federal government. It seems like every week we are hearing about a new threat, hack, or breach that has hit an agency. In just the past few weeks, we’ve heard about significant breaches that have resulted in both citizen and federal employee information being compromised.

Obviously, these kinds of attacks are putting agencies on alert. This is especially important as organizations continue to embrace new technologies and polices to improve operations and efficiency. As technology investments bring great new capabilities to government, it’s imperative that IT managers design security in from the very beginning.

I recently discussed this topic in an article published in Federal Times. The article explored how the Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE) need cybersecurity protection. In addition to a projected $4.6 trillion in value for global public sector by 2022, the enhanced connectivity offered by IoE technologies also creates an increased need for network security. For example, while BYOD programs are tremendously valuable, these initiatives also create a larger surface area for potential attacks by adding devices to the networks.

With billions of devices expected become connected over the next five years, it’s important that agencies have a plan in place to address their security needs. In general, agencies should focus their efforts on creating a cybersecurity strategy that is visibility-driven, threat-focused and platform-based. As more individuals and devices need network access, having real-time visibility becomes even more critical to gaining insight on surrounding threats and identifying system vulnerabilities. Also, presuming the network has already been breached it can help agencies be more proactive their approach. And lastly, a platform-based approach will provide scalability and flexibility required to address a variety of threats and reduce complexity through centralized management.

The number of ways IoE can make our lives better and our organizations more efficient depends mainly on our ability to think of new ways to use the technology. If we can be confident in the security of IoE, we can be confident developing more applications for it. All organizations should be in a position to ask, “Now that I am confident with my protection, what new things can I develop to save money or time and delight my users?”

Take a look at the Federal Times article for more insights around IoE and cybersecurity, and check out this white paper to learn more about IoE’s impact on public sector.

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Federal Agencies and the Internet of Things

Earlier this week, Federal Computer Week ran an article – “Are agencies really ready for the Internet of Things?” – that discusses the potential challenges government agencies face when implementing the Internet of Things (IoT). The article’s author spoke to Gary Hall, chief technology officer for Federal Defense at Cisco, about these challenges, as well as why federal agencies can’t afford to ignore IoT any longer.

The biggest concern that all organizations have with IoT is the massive scope it involves – there is a huge volume of data being produced and a need to store and process it all. Even just the number of connected devices is expected to explode in the coming years, growing from around 16 billion today to 50 billion by 2020. “Humans can’t deal with the volume of data we’re producing,” Hall said.

All this data means more chances for security breaches as well, which is especially worrying for federal agencies. In this case, awareness is key, as Peter Romness, a business development manager Cisco, spoke about at a recent GovLoop seminar. Romness cautioned that there is no “silver bullet” defense, so agencies must prepare to deal with inevitable hacks. “It’s not a question of if you’re going to get hacked, it’s a matter of when,” he said.

Despite these concerns, IoT experts agree that federal agencies cannot avoid the issue any longer, and if they haven’t already started planning for IoT implementation, they’re behind. Cisco estimates that IoT will generate $4.6 trillion for the public sector over the next 10 years, and agencies that are too wary of potential security issues risk missing out on this value. “This is the next big disruption,” Hall said. “It’s important that we aren’t so afraid of the fear of attack that we don’t realize the value.”

For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) – which manages nearly 10,000 government-owned buildings around the county – is reaping the rewards of its IoT- building management initiative, GSALink. GSA collects almost 30 million data points from sensors throughout its buildings, constantly monitoring everything from light to humidity. Using this data, GSA is able to optimize conditions when workers are present and save on energy costs when buildings are empty. IoT can add significant value like this to all federal agencies – they just have to take advantage of it!

Read more about how IoT can transform the public sector here, and check out more thoughts from Cisco’s experts like Gary Hall on our blog.

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Experience the Digital Community at Cisco Live

Cities, states, and other communities continue to face an increasing variety of challenges: traffic congestion, parking, public safety and security, waste and water management, and access to education and healthcare. As such, government leaders are looking to technology to solve these challenges, while also finding more efficient ways to provide better services, reduce the carbon footprint, and enhance livability.

SCC2Solutions enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE), such as the Cisco Smart+Connected City Operations Center, can successfully enable communities to become digital and to address these challenges.

This means improved operating models to drive efficiency, safety, and better citizen experiences overall.

Read More »

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Big Data in the Public Sector: Turning Bytes into Information Valuable to Society (White Paper)

Recent economic analysis by Cisco (http://internetofeverything.cisco.com/) reveals that the Internet of Everything is a $4.6 trillion opportunity for global Public Sector organisations (e.g. Government, Healthcare, Education) over the next decade. This is the result of cost savings, increased productivity, new revenues and the enhanced citizen experiences it will bring.

A sound Big Data strategy will allow Public Sector organisations to capture this value by:

  1. Prioritising the key use cases – gaining insight through descriptive, diagnostic, predictive or prescriptive analysis.
  2. Deploying the right technology – to collect, integrate, process, aggregate and visualise information.
  3. Connecting the previously unconnected – from sensors and databases to usage patterns and social media.

Big Data - elements

Many Public Sector organisations have announced their “Big Data strategies” but then failed to deliver the results… why?

Typically, there are three reasons:

  1. The focus is put on the technology to deploy, which is often the wrong one, rather than key use cases.
  2. The right technologies are deployed for each use case, but there is no common platform architecture. As each solution is in its own silo, it’s not scalable and is costly.
  3. Data sources are not standardised or interoperable so it’s not possible to correlate data sets and generate new perspectives.

A team at Cisco of Big Data specialists and experts on government have put together a white paper to analyse how Public Sector organisations can best use Big Data to create Value for Society. In this white paper, you will discover:

  • Some of the most relevant use cases for the Public Sector
  • How to build a future-proof platform that will evolve with your needs
  • Why you should consider Cisco for your Big Data projects

Please download the white paper:
Big Data in the Public Sector: Turning Bytes into Valuable Information for Society

Looking forward to your comments.