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Local Government and Law Enforcement Share Unique Insights

Cisco recently held a public safety panel to discuss how public sector agencies are addressing reduced workforces and constrained budgets. Central to the topic of discussion were cost-effective solutions to keep citizens and public spaces safe. Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, and Jeff Teer, a telecom analyst for the city of McAllen, Texas, were among the panelists who led the conversation. These leaders discussed integrating the right technology to enhance public safety and support the justice system.

Challenges for Today’s Sheriffs

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are evaluating how technology can reduce costs. Agencies are now working with technology to leverage the right resources, data and location information to support organizational needs and improve efficiency.

During the panel, Thompson explained the scale and scope of environmental challenges facing sheriffs. Due to current federal policies, sheriffs have taken a primary role in securing and protecting the U.S. border. Thompson noted that technology is a key component to helping sheriffs operate successfully. While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers a very robust and viable set of solutions for their personnel, deputies will sometimes have to cover more than 25 square miles alone in remote areas. These deputies need the technology in place to fulfill their roles and communicate with not only each other but other entities (like CBP) to provide support as-needed.

Sheriffs are being asked to do more with less, and be more efficient with less. This type of pressure paired with their unique civic obligations lead to a high-stress environment. Given these circumstances, sheriffs are generally slow to adopt intricate technologies, so they require solutions that are simple and easy to use.

How are public safety agencies improving efficiencies?

Teer explained how McAllen brought Cisco TelePresence into its warrant process to accelerate investigations that require easy and immediate access to a judge. This new deployment has minimized wasted time and maximized its value and efficiency for law enforcement and the judges. The city has plans to use video adjudication to support virtual arraignments. This force multiplier will be cost-effective and improve efficiencies. By using technology to collaborate across jurisdictions, stakeholders from different agencies federal, state and local can connect to improve law enforcement. This kind of connected justice is one of Cisco’s major public safety initiatives.

Law enforcement agencies rely heavily on planning, especially when it comes to planning and evaluating pipelines. Forecasting where an agency plans to be in the next few years is very important. These projections and input from every department can help agencies to improve overall connectivity and proficiencies.

Cisco is committed to providing public safety organizations with the technologies they need to do their jobs as efficiently as possible. Visit Cisco’s safety and security website for more information about how government agencies are using Cisco technologies and solutions to improve the lives of law enforcement officers as well as citizens.

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Government’s Journey to IPv6

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2015 North American IPv6 Summit. Several hundred IPv6 experts and networking professionals attended from across the country to discuss the IPv6 adoption, hear about the latest IPv6 research and learn what others are doing to prepare for the transition to IPv6.

To refresh, IPv6 is the next-generation Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides identification for computers on networks and allows computers to talk to each other. The existing Internet Protocol, IPv4, has a finite number of IP addresses, limiting the number of devices that can be given a new address. In fact, the free pool held by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was depleted in 2011 and the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) has less than 3.5 million IP addresses left, a supply so small it could be completely exhausted by June of this year. IPv6’s large number of new IP addresses make it a foundational building block for the future of the Internet, especially as increasingly more devices become connected as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

U.S. Government Should Lead

It’s not just that government agencies should be migrating to IPv6 themselves, it’s that they should be leading that charge given our history. Public Internet was born through the U.S. government, and as Internet leaders, we need to continue to be at the forefront of the Internet’s evolution. Currently, Belgium is leading the world in IPv6 capability with 49 percent adoption. By comparison, the United States is at 35 percent.

The U.S. government has issued several mandates and deadlines to facilitate the IPv6 migration among agencies. The most recent one in 2014 called for all government agencies provide IPv6 connectivity to their user community. However, despite the mandate deadlines, many government agencies are struggling to make the switch. Out of over 1,200 federal agency websites, less than 500 are IPv6 enabled. It’s time for the U.S. government to start leading this necessary transition.

Why Migrate Today?

Beyond simply providing more IP addresses, there are business benefits to transitioning for both private and public sector organizations. IPv6 will enable organizations to take advantage of numerous opportunities presented by IoT and the Internet of Everything (IoE) – the networked connection of people, devices, data and processes. For instance, future Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies need to be IPv6 enabled as new devices will automatically be IPv6 connected. Further, IPv6 will allow agencies to achieve value from future connections to help optimize business functions, support mobile workforces, improve security and enhance citizen services.

There will be an estimated 50 billion connected devices by 2020, which means migration is not an option – it’s a necessity given how few IPv4 addresses remain. If your organization is not IPv6 enabled, you won’t be able to connect natively with these new devices. In order improve network operations and processes in the future, private and public sector organizations will need to transition to IPv6.

So, why are some organizations and agencies putting off migrating? Simple – because change is scary. Organizations have been managing the legacy protocol for over 30 years, and there is uncertainty that comes with transitioning to something different. Also, many don’t fully understand the big picture benefits. By getting hung up on potential deployment challenges, IT managers and network engineers overlook the fact that their organizations won’t be able to leverage the power of IoE tomorrow unless they start transitioning to IPv6 today.

Create Your IPv6 Transition Plan

So what can government do to start leading the switch to IPv6? Below are five key steps to migrating to IPv6:

  1. Identify the business value and impact.
  2. Create a project team of IT professionals, technical business owners and an assigned project manager to manage progress and address any outstanding issues.
  3. Engage in assessment of equipment and assets for infrastructure readiness.
  4. Develop architectural solutions.
  5. Test, monitor and deploy IPv6.

As an industry leader in IP technology and pioneer of IPv6 technology since its beginning in 1996, Cisco is well positioned to assist government in this process from beginning to end. We have experts that can help your organization walk through each step above; from evaluating IPv6 readiness to offering deployment services, our IPv6 can expertise has helped organizations save time, money and resources. In addition, we have the widest range of platforms and features for IPv6 compared to any other vendor, which enables us to provide customized solutions sets to meet the needs of customers.

Ultimately, IPv6 is the global plan of record for a sustainable, scalable Internet, and public sector organizations need to migrate to continue improving operations and meet citizens’ needs. Click here to learn more about the IPv6 transition and how Cisco can help.

 

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Feds Relationship with the Cloud: It’s Complicated

Cloud computing is not a new concept for federal IT managers. The idea of transitioning to the cloud has been discussed, evaluated, loved and scrutinized for several years. There has and continues to be tremendous excitement about the benefits cloud computing can offer federal agencies, including increased flexibility, scalability and cost-efficiency. However, concerns still remain for agencies considering cloud adoption, primarily being security and lack of data control.

Earlier this year, MeriTalk released its “Cloud Without the Commitment” report following a survey of 150 Federal IT managers from agencies that have implemented cloud. The report, underwritten by Cisco and Red Hat, found that federal agencies still have a desire to embrace cloud, but security concerns and other challenges remain. For instance, 75 percent of respondents said they want to shift more services to the cloud, but they are concerned over retaining control of their data. As a result, agencies are still hesitant to go “all-in” when it comes to cloud. This sentiment is reflected by an unwillingness to commit long-term. More than half of those surveyed said concerns over being locked into a contract hold their agency back from cloud adoption.

This week I’ll be participating in a webinar discussion with GSA’s Mark Day, deputy assistant commissioner, Office of Integrated Technology Services, and Red Hat’s David Egts, chief technologist for Public Sector. We’ll be discussing the survey findings and what it means for the future of the federal government’s relationship with the cloud.

Click here to register and join us at 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday (5/14) for the free discussion. Download the full survey report and come with questions. Hope to talk with you then!

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Enterprise Architecture: The Key to Unlocking the Value of Convergence

Last week, I had the opportunity to present at the DGI Enterprise Architecture Conference & Expo. Specifically, I spoke about enterprise architecture’s role in the convergence of big data, mobility and cloud. Emerging technologies can provide tremendous value to public sector organizations, but these organizations need Enterprise Architecture to transform IT services and deliver operational success and mission outcomes.

According to Gartner, Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a discipline that delivers value to organizations by presenting business and IT leaders with recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve target business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions. The EA process maps business requirements to the IT capabilities needed to support them, and investments to the value delivered by IT services and their underlying systems, infrastructure and technology.

EA is crucial for organizations looking to capitalize on innovative technology and business opportunities, like the Internet of Everything (IoE) and digitization. Less than one percent of the world’s devices are connected today, but IoE and digitization have the world on the edge of an explosion of connectivity that has the potential to provide enormous value to the public sector. It’s estimated that IoE is a $4.6 trillion global opportunity for public sector organizations over the next decade.

As the number of connected devices and “things” grows, the amount of data produced will increase too. From 2012-2020, the amount of data created is projected to double every 2 years. All this data creates complexity, especially when it comes to transforming that data into valuable information for decision makers. This complexity, along with new business models and strategies, is driving IT transformation. EA can help simplify things and manage the data so that organizations can capture the potential business value of IoE and digitization.

Enterprise architects also need to look at business transitions that are occurring. Trends such as globalization, new opportunities for growth and productivity, and increased security and regulatory compliance are all things to consider. To be successful, architects need to be at the intersection of business and technology, identifying architectures to support specific strategies for their organizations to achieve the business outcomes they want and need.

Most IT departments are confronted with a common set of challenges in the face of these trends. Data center infrastructure and networks have become increasingly complex. As size increases, there is a greater drain on IT resources, resulting in decreased agility and security challenges. Further, rapidly-evolving business needs create the requirement to scale resources up or down dynamically in seconds, not months or hours. IT budgets are not growing to keep pace with these new requirements. Agency IT departments are increasingly running into budget restraints that could limit what they can accomplish. The right architecture strategy can alleviate performance issues, simplify operations and offer the flexibility to adapt when necessary, all within budget.

Organizations’ IT must evolve to address both market and technology transitions. EA can help harness IoE convergence to lower costs, increase efficiencies and improve citizen services. It can also help organizations manage many more devices on their networks. EA is the glue between people, process, data and things. For government agencies, effective EA requires organizational awareness and an understanding of what is working and what is not. It is impossible to achieve a desired future state without organizational awareness.

So how does your organization leverage EA to support business transformation efforts that take advantage of these disruptions? Follow this checklist:

  1. Consult with both IT and business leadership. EA sits at the intersection of business and technology, and needs to be involved with both sides from the start.
  2. Understand your desired outcomes and define your to-be environment. Do this before digging into your current state to avoid being influenced by current investments, capabilities and limitations.
  3. Assess and map your organization’s current IT environment.
  4. Make a journey map that shows how to get from your current state to your desired to-be environment.
  5. Implement architecture changes, and continue to iterate and adapt to align your IT infrastructure with your business goals.

The last piece of advice I have is don’t be afraid to fail – with risk comes reward. That said, be deliberate in your planning and consider the risks prior to implementation and seek to unlock the value of connections while protecting your organization from new threats.

Find out how Cisco is supporting the federal government’s Enterprise Architecture initiative

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IoE and Convergence: The Path toward Greater Efficiency and Improved Citizen Services

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, citizens and end-user government employees are reaping the benefits. Government is responding to the growing demand for increased e-services and faster access to data by aligning resources to more adequately support a fully connected world, or as we like to call it the Internet of Everything (IoE).

The Difference between IoE and Convergence

IoE is the networked connection of people, processes, data and things. This extends beyond machine-to-machine communication (often referenced as the Internet of Things) to embrace complete connectivity. By connecting the unconnected, government agencies have the potential to reduce costs, improve operations, enhance employee productivity and improve citizen safety and services. However, to unlock all the benefits of IoE, the first step is convergence.

Convergence is what we refer to as the union of Big Data, Cloud Computing and Mobility. As these pervasive technology megatrends come together—there is a synergy that is created. This allows for a more streamlined, efficient technology environment that bridges the gap between government operations and citizen services.

Convergence and the Public Sector

The idea of benefiting from IoE is often talked about as something far in the future, but in truth, it is already happening today. IoE is making a significant impact across government as organizations begin using converged resources to shape their IT infrastructure.

For example, Hardik Bhatt, Chief Information Officer for the State of Illinois, spoke recently with FutureStructure about how smarter infrastructure is helping to improve the lives of city residents. With smart street lighting systems, cities can save money by eliminating waste, help citizens feel safer and allow local businesses can tap into the connected infrastructure to build apps using the available data and network.

Federal agencies are also tapping into the power of IoE and orchestrating their cloud, big data and mobile environments. Orchestrating the converged ecosystem, the DoD is connecting the battlefield in ways that are fundamentally changing today’s military operations. Enhanced sensor communications are helping the Department of Defense (DoD) improve monitoring, both on and off the battlefield, with systems that communicate across intelligent networks to increase both visibility to threats as well as improving operational efficiency through better decision making ability. Sensor based systems and video have revolutionized remote healthcare services. In addition, General Services Administration Smart Buildings offer improved management and energy efficiency capabilities. Pressure readings and valve adjustments can be done from a network operations center instead of in person and occupancy sensors can be used to provide optimum lighting during daytime while saving energy.

Build Your Convergence Roadmap Today

Convergence is the key to unlocking the true value of the IoE. Governments with converged technology infrastructure environments will enjoy greater agility and efficiency through aligned resources. Those seeking to achieve maximum value from IoE should develop a convergence roadmap that addresses improvements in the underlying cloud, big data, and mobility services that power IoE. This plan should include an assessment of your current technology assets and capabilities, define what you want to achieve with each technology architecture, identify the workflows and process that will be impacted and build an IT strategy that embraces automation and an application-centric approach to ensure the applications and devices in your environment work together.

To learn more about this new age of convergence and how your public sector organization can benefit from the $4.6 trillion opportunity that IoE presents over the next decade, go to cisco.com/convergence. Additionally, check out some top predictions for the IoE era.

 

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