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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Digital Countries – Stories of Success

All aboard the digital express

Communities and countries of all sizes are in motion toward a digital future…and if not, they risk being left behind. This then begs the question, what does ‘digitize’ really mean? Certainly, there’s no instruction manual for the task. The roadmap features some identifiable landmarks—flagged by early pioneers—but there is still plenty of unchartered territory. In fact to navigate this rapidly changing landscape, we definitely have our work cut out for us, both in the developed and emerging parts of the world.

We frequently talk about all things becoming connected, but in reality, the majority of the global inhabitants are still faced with little to no Internet access, a disturbing fact when you consider the socio-economic benefits that technology affords. The digital divide is real. Despite the proliferation and rapid advancement of technology, many just are not receiving the benefits of the changes made in ICT.

However, an important tool in shedding light on the digital puzzle is the sharing of success stories and best practices. Sharing of experiences and expertise can open the discussion on how digital government can and should evolve. Using the power of the global community, the ever-increasing propagation of technology can begin to help digital countries develop faster and more efficiently through sharing and learning. And by bringing to light the stories of transformation, large and small, around the globe we hope to offer guidance and leadership to those embarked on the journey or planning a trip soon.

Where in the world is the digital citizen?

So how exactly do you separate fact from fiction and who is just presenting smoke and mirrors? Since the discussions concerning the digital shift began, there have been a number of myths and promises. With the growing numbers of examples to draw from, we are now in a much better position to assess the possible processes of digitization in a more realistic manner. And based on the experiences of the early-adopters, we can begin suggesting the steps that governments can take and/or avoid in planning their digital country strategy.

This week, our digital citizen is a jet setter. Think Carmen Sandiego circa 1990. First stop, the United Kingdom. The country is in its second phase of digitization planning, which includes efforts such as public sector development, accelerated cybersecurity innovation, and public-private initiatives like the British Innovation Gateway (BIG). Strategic investment to accelerate existing government goals for driving economic growth through high-tech innovation is helping the UK to becoming one of the top digitized countries in the world.

A quick trip over to the continent and our citizen is making the next stop in France. Drawing on a dynamic start-up culture, the reform-driven country plans to extract value from its efforts to enhance security, increase productivity, create jobs, and improve citizens’ lives through digitization. The Cisco Networking Academy program plans to open 1,500 additional academies and train upwards of 200,000 students in France, giving the French workforce the skills needed to accelerate the country’s digitization process. Not only is France expected to gain a GDP boost from 1-2 percent, this transformation will contribute to France’s overall global competitiveness by supporting job growth, education, cybersecurity, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives.

We’re off again and on to India, where Smart City Bangalore is a prime example of a bottom-up digital country strategy, starting at the smart city level. Electronics City, in a newly developed area of Bangalore, is meant to be a model for smart cities, not just in India, but also around the world. Our citizen learns that for this, and for the 90+ other smart cities planned for India under the new government’s plan, its leaders are thinking about better ways to deliver citizen services and foster education initiatives to nurture the next-generation workforce. India is working toward a scalable blueprint on how to continue to be relevant in the rapidly evolving global environment.

Digital CIty_TW

And finally, we arrive in Singapore. While visiting, our citizen enjoys ubiquitous Internet connectivity—Singapore’s government has so far connected almost 99 percent of its residents to an ultra-high-speed network. Our citizen also can’t help but notice that Singapore is a bustling, world-class hub for modern business, enabled by the push for high technology adoption and by allowing innovation to flourish. In this year’s Global Information Technology Report, Singapore takes the top rank of the world’s most tech-savvy nations, recognizing the government’s successful promotion of innovative ICT and of providing online services to its citizens.

Well, we’re now approaching 2016, and while we might not have quite ended the traffic jam conundrum, the future of digital transformation in government is here and continues to build momentum. The answer is not a simple one, or a simple fix for technology alone. It is clear that digital transformation, at any level, will not happen overnight. However, it can be said that the future of digital success will rely on high collaboration and best practice sharing. Because amidst all the disruptive change that is due to come our way, governments must recognize they are not necessarily alone. Do’s and don’ts can and should be widely shared to point others on their digital journeys toward success.

Next Stop

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post to discover more information about cybersecurity and staying safe online in honor of #CyberAware month. And be sure to check back each week as we explore new themes, challenges and observations.

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Additionally, you can click here and register now to get your questions answered on how to become the next digital community.

Finally, we invite you to be a part of the conversation by using the hashtag #WednesdayWalkabout and by following @CiscoGovt on Twitter. For more information and additional examples, visit our Smart+Connected Communities page and our Government page on Enjoy the Wednesday walkabout!


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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Learn Without Limits

Learn Without Limits

Today’s new technology trends, particularly those around digitization and the Internet of Everything, present education with an unprecedented amplifier. We now have the capacity to share knowledge to an exponentially larger number of people than ever before.

Literacy and the quest for knowledge are basic human rights that are currently unequally distributed among the world’s population. Despite global efforts, access to basic schooling and life-long learning is still far from a reality for many in today’s environment. And a lack of foundational education hinders economic prosperity, perpetuating levels of poverty in the world’s poorest societies. However, the digital age is shining new hope. Technology advancements offer significant opportunities to improve access to learning and opportunities to address the learning disparities in underserved populations, encouraging the movement toward wider education equity. Not only is technology closing the knowledge gap, but it is also providing new and innovative ways to teach and to learn. In complementing traditional methods, technology can truly be a value-add on how you provide and absorb knowledge.

All Those in Favor of Learning Say ‘Aye’

Last week, we met brave ten-year-old Thorben, who is battling cancer. The Internet of Everything is connecting Thorben to his classmates in a way that is as close as possible to being there in person. For Thorben and many UKE Hamburg patients, digital technologies are creating a quality of life and reducing the feelings of isolation from normal life prior to their diagnoses.

This week, our digital citizen, like Thorben, is a child in pursuit of connecting with teachers and platforms for learning. Education is the foundation of any modern society; and in today’s post, we’ll explore how digital learning is an evolutionary step in education.

For our citizen, like many around the world, conventional classrooms can be prohibitively expensive, both to build and to attend. However, open access to improved technology is changing that and allowing for learning to be undertaken from anywhere at anytime. India’s Amrita University experienced similar challenges in educating those in remote locations. To address this, the University staff conducted both online and onsite courses, walking attendees through the same lesson plan as if the physical and digital worlds had merged into one.

Skip forward a few years and our digital citizen is struggling with balancing a job and finishing a university education. However, like in what San Jose State University (SJSU) is calling the “next-generation classroom”, many learning institutions are removing thEDucation_hashtage need to attend a course in person, eliminating travel time and costs. Immersive video lecture systems allow universities like SJSU educators to exchange teaching opportunities with students and visiting lecturers around the world within the classroom. Participants can see and hear one another, and participate live in the education process regardless of location.

So what about ingenious ways of educating young minds? Our digital citizen, like so many young people, is looking for new and exciting ways to learn. Schools, like Camberwell Girls Grammar in Australia, are taking advantage of the digital movement and creating an environment for students to thrive by teaching them new skills of creativity, collaboration, and how to be innovative in their approach to learning.

Speaking of those new and innovative skills, our citizen is on the career hunt and the need for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) professionals is rapidly increasing. Workforce training programs are helping to provide unparalleled economic and societal contributions to communities and countries by having a more skilled and entrepreneurial workforce. Like Cisco’s Network Academy, which provides critical ICT education to more than 1 million students a year throughout the world – using that very technology to deliver the curriculum content.

The digital era is propelling us into a world where learning is embedded into daily life and no longer associated with traditional classrooms and school buildings. And education is on the move. The traditional model of knowledge-transfer is adapting to a collaborative, self-directed, engaging, and even customizable method that is helping to prepare students to succeed in today’s learning society.

Next Stop

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post. And be sure to check back each week as we explore new themes, challenges and observations.

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Additionally, you can click here and register now to get your questions answered on how to become the next digital community.

Finally, we invite you to be a part of the conversation by using the hashtag #WednesdayWalkabout and by following @CiscoGovt and @CiscoEDU on Twitter. For more information and additional examples, visit our Smart+Connected Communities, Education, and our Government pages on Enjoy the Wednesday walkabout!


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How IoE Helps the Navy Connect the Open Ocean

The Internet of Everything will have far-reaching effects in a multitude of industries over the next few years. There will be an estimated 50 billion devices and objects connected to the internet by 2020. The movement toward an increasingly connected world is already transforming operations in the retail, finance and healthcare industries. The government is also seeking ways to harness the potential benefits of IoE, and one sector that anticipates gaining significant operational benefits from IoE is defense.

My colleague Cindy DeCarlo gave an excellent overview of how IoE is facilitating the vision of net-centric warfare. Mike Hodge further highlighted this transformation, emphasizing the benefits IoE can bring specifically to new smart and connected bases around the world. Today, I want to dig a little deeper and call attention to one branch of the military that is taking advantage of IoE to operate more efficiently and increase operational success in multiple areas: the Navy.

IoE enables the Navy to use technology to increase automation, improve multi-tasking, reduce workload and enhance effectiveness in four main areas: Read More »

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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Health Tech, Coming Soon to a Location Near You

Digital Health Wave

Here we are, now in the digital age. Blah blah, you know that already. But while we all sit around with our smart phones, shopping, socializing, working, and living in the digital world; the reality is that we’ve really only started to scratch the surface. And even though technology has seemingly permeated everything in our lives, it is only beginning to touch how we manage health and wellness.

Yes, it’s fun and trendy to track your steps or your heart rate with wearables. But this is just a small glimpse into the possibilities of how we collect and share health data to improve patient care at greater speed and scale. Movements like the Internet of Everything have been kick-starting the advancement of digital health. However, there’s still disconnect between technology and the delivery of innovative healthcare. And the reality is, the majority of those in the health industry haven’t quite caught up. So the question remains, how do health and wellness dive in to the deep end of the digital movement?

Health, Wellness, and Rock & Roll

In today’s post, our digital citizen is also a rock star and heart patient.

device image (1)The alarm sounds at 8 am and it’s time to wake up. But it’s not the alarm clock that’s going off; it’s the notification of an issue in our citizen’s implantable cardioverter-defribillator (ICD). A device implantable inside the body capable of correcting most life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Without fully understanding whether to panic or accept it as a normal part of life with this new accessory, the answers were working themselves out behind the scenes, streaming real-time information on the patient’s well being. First, a notice was sent to the device manufacturer. This then triggered an alert to the health provider and prompted a call to the patient. Within an hour of being awakened by the unnerving sound coming from our citizen’s own chest, the cause had been identified, shared with the care provider, and a next-day appointment had been scheduled for follow up.

Healthcare professionals normally rely on patients to confess how they’re feeling. However, with the possibilities enabled by crossing into the digital health realm, doctors will soon know how their patients are feeling, and possibly even why, before patients can walk into the exam room. In this case, proactively monitoring and solving for problems has allowed our citizen to return to normal life. Our citizen is as active as ever and still rocking on strong.


What if a specialist is needed, what then? More often than not, vast distances separate physicians, specialists, and patients in all corners of the globe. If our citizen had lived in Ontario, Canada, where telemedicine initiatives have helped patients save almost 200 million miles of travel per year, access to a specialist would have been a few keystrokes away. By providing tools that allow healthcare providers to easily communicate with one another and with their patients, caregivers can use the network to deliver wellness through video conferencing with patients, share data amongst one another, and support educational events or meetings over a distance.

And what about access to the remote areas of the world? There are renowned programs like the UVA Center for Telehealth. As well as serving patients throughout Virginia, it has expanded its programs to the medically underserved in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and other international destinations providing basic medical care and specialty services from psychiatry, to pediatric neurology, and genetics.

But why stop there? Technology is becoming more and more accessible. We should be planning for the day when all patients receive and all professionals provide the right care, at the right time, in whatever location is most convenient; the move to truly patient-centric care.

Next Stop

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post to discover more information about learning without limits. And be sure to check back each week as we explore new themes, challenges, and observations.


Additionally, you can click here and register now to get your questions answered on how to become the next digital community.

Finally, we invite you to be a part of the conversation by using the hashtag #WednesdayWalkabout and by following @CiscoGovt on Twitter. For more information and additional examples, visit our Smart+Connected Communities page and our Government page on Enjoy the Wednesday walkabout!

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Video Interpretation Solutions Help Ensure Equality in the Justice System

While I was thinking about the topic of my second post in the court series leading up to the CTC conference in September, I came across an interesting news article. The state of California just announced that it will now provide court interpreters for free in all court cases. In the past, the state – along with many others – has only provided interpretation services in criminal cases. However, ensuring that everyone understands what is going on in the courtroom, no matter the case, is critical to making sure justice is dispensed fairly, efficiently and accurately. This means that court interpretation services are a crucial part of the justice system.

While this move by California is great, it is a bit behind the times. Back in 2010, the Department of Justice issued guidance on the issue of interpreters within the judicial system, noting that a particular concern was, “limiting the types of proceedings for which qualified interpreter services are provided by the court.” The letter went on to state: “Some courts only provide competent interpreter assistance in limited categories of cases, such as in criminal, termination of parental rights, or domestic violence proceedings. DOJ, however, views access to all court proceedings as critical.” This means that all states have had five years to expand their court translation services to cover all types of cases, in accordance with the Department of Justice’s standards.

However, states have been slow to take on this expansion, largely due to the high costs. California, for example, has the nation’s largest court system, spread out across a huge state. They also have about seven million residents with limited English proficiency, who speak over 200 different languages. The cost to provide translators in those locations for these residents is huge; in 2010, California spent nearly $93 million on court interpretation services. So in order to reconcile the challenge of fixed budgets with the increased demand for interpreters, state and local governments need to rethink their manual processes for deploying these services and look toward technology instead.

One major way to reduce the cost of providing interpreters and ensure that all citizens participate in a fair and balanced judicial process is using video services. To address the rising demand for interpreters and to help streamline court procedures, Cisco has developed a Connected Justice™ Video Interpretation solution (CJVI). CJVI allows interpreters to virtually join court proceedings using the high-quality video and audio features of Cisco® Unified Communications Manager and Cisco TelePresence® end-points. Read More »

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