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Intelligent Communities Global Blog Series, Taichung Sets the Stage (Perspective from Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Communities Forum)

The Taiwan city of Taichung was in the spotlight twice this year.  Not bad for a place few had heard of in most parts of the Western world – at least until the Academy Awards broadcast in February.  During that event, Asian-born director Ang Lee, after being named the recipient of four Oscars for his film Life of Pi, thanked Taichung in his acceptance speech for its technical prowess.  Those bragging rights were celebrated.  Four months later the city had something else to claim.  In June, the city’s Secretary-General (the equivalent of City Manager in the United States), Ms Ching-Chih Liao, stood on the stage at Steiner Film Studios in New York to accept the Intelligent Community of the Year award on behalf of Taichung’s 2.7 million citizens and its charismatic mayor, Jason Hu. An international jury and a research company had ranked this city higher (by a few hundredths of a point) than the six other communities that had been invited to New York for their impressive achievement as innovative, job-creating places which used technology to enable growth.

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Madame Liao noted the hard work that her community has done to balance its rural and urban economies, and the role that both broadband and the cloud play to support an infrastructure upon which innovation and technology companies thrive and add value in a place once known as “The Mechanical Kingdom.”

To understand why Taichung went so far in the awards program, it is important to understand that it first grasped the basic importance of the layer of physical infrastructure (telecommunications) and how it would next lead to its ability to exceed at ICF’s other five criteria, including innovation and a knowledge workforce poised to grow its middle-class.

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City of Melrose, Mass. Takes to the Cloud

Melrose wanted to maintain an active, innovative network that was efficient and made sense from a financial standpoint. The city chose the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) with FlexPod as the underlying technology to provide IT services to 18 sites within the city, including a variety of agencies such as the public school system and the police and fire departments.

The Melrose school district, for example, has about 1,300 computers spread across seven buildings, which requires a lot of networking infrastructure and the capability to meet many, diverse demands. The school system in Melrose is a particular source of pride for the city. In fact, Melrose High School was recently ranked among the 1,000 best public high schools in the nation by Newsweek. Thus, it was important for the city to meet expectations and future demand with technology that would help continue the tradition of educational excellence.

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Keeping It Simple

The last thing people in the collaboration space want is yet another technology, which is why one of my top priorities is simplification.

Think about it.  Do you want more stuff coming at you every day?  I’m guessing the answer is no.  What you want is for somebody to bring all the collaboration tools together, so that they work better.  Simplification goes hand in hand with another of my priorities and that’s user experience.  People don’t want to have to pore over manuals, they just want  devices and services that are easy to use.

The good news is that Cisco is already a leader in user experience and will only get stronger.

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The Evolution of Collaboration

Early on, companies looked to Collaboration technologies to capture extraordinary financial and productivity returns. This hasn’t changed. But more and more, companies are looking for strategic benefits as well, such as the ability to open up new markets, radically improve relationships with customers and transform entire industries.

There are seismic shifts taking place in our increasingly connected business world with the advent of mobile, video and cloud technologies. This opens up new opportunities to tap the full talent of people and move with greater speed and innovation.

In an interview at Cisco Live, I shared my thoughts on the rapid move to the cloud, the advantages of video embedded in business processes, and the role of collaboration in the Internet of Everything. Hear more in the video below.

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The Internet of Everything: a Future Vision, Arriving Today

This week I had the privilege of speaking at Cisco Live 2013 about the coming explosion in connectivity among people, processes, data, and things, which Cisco calls the Internet of Everything (IoE).

This massive technological and societal shift promises to transform and accelerate our lives in profound ways as the number of connected objects soars from 10 billion today to 50 billion (and rising) by 2020.

Yet even before I left for Orlando or gave my first Cisco Live presentation, I saw ample evidence that IoE is not just a vision of the future. Increasingly, it is the Internet of today—and evolving rapidly all around us.

IoE represents the orchestration of a bevy of emerging technologies, including Big Data analytics, video, mobility, cloud, and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. And it will ultimately infuse almost everything—roads, jet-engine parts, shoes, refrigerators, soil, supermarket shelves, you name it—with cheap, tiny sensors that will generate terabytes of data to be sifted for key insights.

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