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Cisco PSS Day 2: ElBaradei Says Egypt Faces “Critical” Post-Revolutionary Year

Egyptian Nobel Peace Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said today Egypt’s post-Mubarak era has been “royally” mismanaged and that Egypt needs help building a robust, government that earns the trust and faith of its people. 

“The revolution is being aborted by parts of the old regime and the military,” said ElBaradei. “The army has been mismanaging the transition royally.”

After a revolution which ElBaradei said “would not have been possible without social networking,” he called the Egyptian mood “gloomy.”  “The poverty level was staggering. They haven’t seen the fruits of the revolution.”

“You have to have a change of culture,” he said. “People are used to having one person tell them what to do, but now there is no one person who is going to provide salvation. We need to establish synergy, and come together to deliver the goods.”

“I’m doing as much as I can at my age,” he added.

ElBaradei’s PSS address was avidly anticipated by the Summit delegates and online followers of the Summit and #21CGov.

ElBaradei said the West could contribute to Egypt’s stability by addressing regional conflicts from the Israeli-Palestinian impasse to Iran and Afghanistan. He said he rejected the view that Middle East tensions constitute a “clash of civilizations,” blaming instead historically poor and corrupt governance across the region which has led to repression and poverty.

The rewards for improvement could be vast, said ElBaradei.

 “This could be a peace not just with dictators but between peoples,” he said. “Peace for me is to see every Egyptian have human dignity and live in freedom.” 

“In ten years, Egypt will not be dissimilar to what we see in Turkey or Singapore. But we need first to put ourselves on the right track.”

It’s the second day of PSS 2011 and the event has attracted delegates from more than 40 countries, plus thousands more monitoring the plenary sessions live online. 

In other remarks at today’s plenary, former Los Angeles chief of police Bill Bratton discussed the proven positive effects of collaborative strategies on governance and law enforcement.

“There is raw power in collaboration,” said Bratton. “In today’s networked world virtually everyone is connected whether you want to be or not.”

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PSS Insights with Bob Cook, President of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation

Dark and frosty Oslo is half a world away from El Paso, Texas. But on the first day of Cisco’s Public Services Summit 2011 Bob Cook, president of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation, paid the climate no heed. He was focused on Friday’s plenary featuring former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and technology theorist Manuel Castells. “We’ve already come up with six different ideas on how to improve our situation.” Cook said happily afterwards.

Cook’s attendance at PSS drew hometown notice when friends took out a congratulatory ad in local business press. Cisco Systems, which worked with Cook in 2011 on the Smart Connected Communities Program, brought the Summit to his attention. He had no trouble justifying the journey. Read More »

First Public Services Summit Plenary: Is Technology Racing Ahead of Government?

The political challenges posed by new communications technology dominated the first plenary session at Cisco’s Public Services Summit 2011 in Oslo.

Delegates from more than 40 countries heard former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo predict Internet economies will make emerging nations “the dynamos of the global economy in years to come,” and technology theorist Manuel Castells warn, “We do have the technology to improve the wealth of nations, but not institutions adequate to guide the transformation.”

Martin Stewart-Weeks, senior director, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, said, “As we move from a centralized to a decentralized world, we must give up a little control in exchange for resilience” – which he defined as “the ability to anticipate, navigate and thrive on coming change … and bounce back to something better.” Read More »

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West Palm Beach Integrates Digital Technology, With Room for Telepresence

The city of West Palm Beach, Florida, is on to something.

The popular tourist destination, and home to 100,000 residents, has embarked upon its own digital revolution of sorts. In an effort to develop business, bring digital communication to the underserved, and make its citizens feel more connected to the local government, West Palm Beach has pulled out nearly all the technological stops.

To bridge the digital divide between wealthy and impoverished populations, the city has installed free Wi-Fi in many public places, including its famous waterfront and the public library. Two Youth Empowerment Centers now include audio/visual recording labs to encourage teens’ multimedia skills and interests. Additionally, in terms of constituent outreach, a planned “Tele-Town Hall” will enable residents to connect with city officials via phone, local television, and social media.

So what more could West Palm Beach do to optimize its technological prowess? Add more telepresence… Read More »

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Delegates Converge in Oslo for the Cisco Public Services Summit

Experts in government and technology converged on Oslo today from all over the world for the 2011 Cisco Public Services Summit. We’ll be keeping you updated in this blog as the sessions unfold.

Visitors will likely find it frigid in this friendly, meticulously kept capital city of narrow, icebound streets and twinkling holiday lights. Oslo in mid-December offers visitors only about six hours of daylight. But prospects are bright for an engaging three-day Summit starting Friday. This year has been a bumper year for stories highlighting the evolving relationship between government and its citizens – from the Arab Spring protests and regime changes to the Eurozone debt crisis. (The EU Brussels summit on salvaging the Euro runs concurrently with ours.)

Our theme this year is “Empowering the Edge: Boosting Resiliency and Productivity in the Public Sector.” The Friday plenary session features addresses from former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and Martin Stewart-Weeks, senior director of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group. Stewart-Weeks will discuss new pressure on governments to redevelop methods and practices that leverage new communications technology.  The full Summit agenda is here. Read More »