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Innovation in Government? Collaborative Research is Critical to Fuel Breakthroughs

This week I had the opportunity to meet with a research group from the University of Tokyo visiting California to explore the role of technology for intelligent cities of the future.   I prepared for this meeting with a discussion with colleage Dr. Norm Jacknis concerning his collaboration with government leaders and university researchers who are delving deeply into the impact of the Internet on government, politics, and society. 

Three takeaways were clear from these conversations:

1. Critical importance of collaborative research across expertise domains, geographies, and public and private sectors

2. Capability to harness the explosion of information or big data deluge that is being fueled by mobile devices connected to the intelligent network

3. An optimistic point of view about potential for research applications, and I’m an optimist!

Next month, Cisco is hosting a live webcast with Dr. Martin Chalfie, 2008 Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry Fueling Innovation:  How Research is Really Done (February 29, 2012 at 9:00 am Pacific Time / 12:00 pm Eastern Time). 

This webcast will explore how the fruits of basic research are critical to fueling applications. Dr. Chalfie will give examples from his own research developing Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) as a biological marker, as well as from work by others, to demonstrate that the application of basic research into fundamental problems in biology is important for its own sake and, fuels the development of various new applications.

While research is typically focused on one industry, great discoveries generally provide value for multiple industries. 

Dr. Chalfie is a Professor of Biological Sciences and former chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. In 2008 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Osamu Shimomura and Roger Tsien for his introduction of GFP as a biological marker.

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Why do we need an IPv6 certification process?

February 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm PST

To answer that question first we need to look at the significance the current IP layer has in our day to day lives. Beyond that we need to, for lack of better words, “follow the money” that these IP based applications, services and infrastructure support. Stability of IP based communication is something we may take for granted but what would happen if that stable IPv4 layer was replaced with a not so stable upgrade? My home network connection goes out, kind of irritating but in the big picture I will probably forget it… the first time. Service Providers realize that if they cannot provide you with a stable service you may not be a happy customer, which may open the door for you to look elsewhere. Beyond that, the loss of IP based communication in many industries is seen as a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars per second both in revenue generation and loss of opportunity. The point is, much of the world economy relies on a stable network at all times.

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With Proper Set Up, Telepresence Need Not Pose Security Concern

February 14, 2012 at 11:36 am PST

In October, we wrote about the federal government’s move toward installing video and telepresence capabilities on mobile devices to improve communication, especially for law enforcement and defense purposes. With mobile telepresence, the government can enhance collaboration and response time during critical events.

A recent New York Times article reminds us, however, that to safely realize all of the benefits of telepresence, the government—or any organization—needs to ensure proper implementation of the video technology. Obviously, security concerns multiply when numerous mobile devices attach to a telepresence network.

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Telegraph vs. Internet: Which Had Greater Impact?

2012 is the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  You may remember just two things about this period from your high school history class.  First, in an act of ignominy for the Americans, the British burned down the capital.  Second, the war ended with the resounding defeat of the British by the heroic General Andrew Jackson in January 1815, in what was the war’s only set-piece battle between the opposing sides.  Jackson eventually rode this victory into the Presidency.

There is only one problem with this battle.  It took place after the war was over.  The previous month, in Europe, the two sides had agreed to peace.  But in those days, communications was so slow that word of the peace didn’t reach New Orleans until February 1815.

Fast forward, approximately forty-eight years later, to the Civil War.  In the period between these two wars, in 1831, Morse thought up the idea for the electronic telegraph.  The Union Army had mastered its quick deployment, so that in 1863 while sitting in Washington, President Lincoln could read almost real time reports from the battlefields many miles away.

book cover

This was a dramatic increase in the speed of communications.  Not all that many decades later, telegraph lines and cables would unite the world.  Yet this did not fundamentally change the way people worked or lived or governed themselves.

So consider 2011, when the US Navy Seals got Osama Bin Laden.  There was a tweet about helicopters within several minutes, but the author didn’t know why the helicopters were nearby.  The first tweet with some confirmation came about forty-five minutes before President Obama made his announcement.

Now think back about forty-eight years before to November 22, 1963 and the assassination of President John Kennedy.  The news was out quickly all over television and radio and newspapers.  Walter Cronkite famously told the viewers of CBS News that the President had died thirty-eight minutes before.

Unlike the 19th century examples, there was no dramatic speed up in the reporting of these two more recent events separated by roughly forty-eight years.  While we may have more sources of information in more places now than in 1963, word doesn’t get out all that much faster.  You could argue that the Telegraph had a greater impact on communications than the Internet.

Yet many of us have the feeling that our world has been changed by this communications.  Why is that?

I think it has to do with the changing nature of the work we do.  In the mid-19th century, more than three quarters of Americans made things or grew food.  In 2011, less than a quarter do so and the rest of us provide services — and increasingly intangible services, including ideas, knowledge, entertainment and the like which is delivered digitally.  Because better digital communications directly speeds up the delivery of these services, we see the impact more.  It’s the increasing availability of high quality communications, in conjunction with these significant socio-economic trends, which will continue to change our lives.

Please share with us how you’ve seen the confluence of these two trends? Reply here and visit the Cisco Public Sector Customer Connection Community.

[picture credit for Battle of New Orleans http://www.frenchcreoles.com/battnozz.jpg]

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Tips on Maintaining a Productive Telework Environment

February 10, 2012 at 10:17 am PST

Do you work from home or on the road often? Do you love “work from home Fridays” where you can drink your coffee in your sweats while responding to emails? So do we. Working remotely saves hours of time on the road that can be better spent getting the kids ready for school or taking that early morning conference call and then immediately hopping on your laptop to work. We also know that teleworking can be great for a more flexible lifestyle but it can also present some challenges if managers do not set expectations of what is expected and if teleworkers don’t create productive work habits.  

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