Fast. Reliable. Easy to use. As a consumer, this is what I have come to expect from the technology that I use.
Many companies work hard to meet – and exceed – consumers’ technological demands. But in the new digital age in which we live, technology is advancing into all areas of our lives, from transportation to retail to healthcare, and forming a transcendent bond between our physical and digital worlds. As technology crosses into new realms, governments, cities, and countries are being digitized at an increasing pace, and citizens expect the same speed, reliability, and simplicity in these governmental technological advances.
Countries and communities around the world have a responsibility to meet the expectations of their citizens – but their digitization also provides a unique opportunity to position their nations for economic success. In fact, according to research conducted by McKinsey, “digitization of the public sector could free up to $1 trillion annually in economic value worldwide, through improved cost and operational performance.” But what does it mean for a country to ‘digitize’? Cisco defines the process as building a sophisticated technology ecosystem that will allow for greater connectivity, productivity, and security. Sounds like a fantastic idea, no? But how exactly can countries get to this higher ‘digitized’ state of being?
Unlock the Door to Digital Success
In this week’s post, our digital citizen is a renowned business leader tasked with fostering public-private sector partnership initiatives for country digitization efforts. Many countries are making impressive strides in this area. But two countries in particular stand out as the perfect locations for piloting the citizen’s program: France and Israel.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked the question ‘what is a smart city really?’ then I’d definitely have enough change to buy a round of drinks. When you hear about smarter, more connected communities, the definition has become varied and often self-serving. However, as someone who dedicates a significant amount of my personal and professional life to sustainable and equitable urban development, I believe in the true importance of the smart city concept. It’s imperative that each city and country define what it means to become smarter, each idea will be different, depending on unique goals and citizen needs.
The apparent common thread is and will continue to be the use of technology. Today, businesses are pivoting toward digital transformation on a massive scale. A trend that governments should take hold of as it’s pressed to find new ways to operate and modernize its services. Whether it is through collaboration initiatives, embracing cloud computing, or driving more informed decisions through data analytics, there are unprecedented opportunities ahead for the evolution of digital government. In the face of uncharted territory and guaranteed disruption in its wake, building deep and lasting best practice sharing alliances will be an essential platform. Through vast sharing and partnership, we can bring together the most brilliant minds of the public, private, non-profit, academic, and philanthropic sectors to identify innovations that can be scaled, replicated and transferred to make a lasting global impact.
Join the world’s most thoughtful industry leaders
This week our citizen has the unique opportunity to join the ranks of global innovators and leaders at the bleeding edge of urban sustainability and digital technology. Meeting of the Minds kicked off yesterday, and more than 400 executives from 25 countries hailing from public and private sector, philanthropy, and academia join our citizen in Richmond, California. The 3-day summit will focus on delivering smarter public services and building better city systems, enabled by forward-looking public policies, intelligent infrastructure, and digital technologies.
Our citizen has heard and will witness a wide range of topics. First on our digital citizen’s agenda is the discussion around urban transportation. There’s no doubt that global communities are rapidly seeing their growing need to develop and implement public transit options and solve the interface between people and mobility systems. Dubai’s initiatives are enticing more people toward using public transportation by offering all services 24/7 via handheld devices and by easing the traveler experience with uniform ticketing and easy payment options, no-stop tollgates, and smart parking meters. Although a one-size-fits-all fix is not the answer, looking at the modes that are successfully serving city dwellers can help your own path become clearer.
Up next, our citizen looks forward to a session on comprehensive and accessible healthcare, and its criticality in economic vitality of communities and nations. Despite increasing expenditures in health, our citizen knows that the US is falling in key indicators of health, underwhelming and under delivering in a variety of health outcomes. Pioneers in the health and wellness industry are focusing on how to improve health, particularly for those in underdeveloped and underserved parts of the world. Sichuan, China is a leading example of breaking new ground through innovative models of cross-industry collaboration. Through integration with upstream determinants of health such as education, economic development, and community organizing, Sichuan has significantly improved access to medical care.
We’re now on to discussing environmental sustainability, a core pillar of the smart city concept. In our increasingly digital world, the quality of air and water, the movement of people and objects, the changes in weather, traffic congestion, CO2 levels, the production and consumption of energy, can be measured, tracked, and interconnected in real time. It is through this connection that we’re seeing smarter and more deliberate solutions for environmental and resource sustainability. This does not mean reinventing the wheel, but innovatively combining what is available with the advantages that technology affords to create high quality living environments. For example, Water for People works closely with local governments and private organizations to create and deliver an open-source smart device application that helps to provide clean water and basic sanitation services to people in disadvantaged communities around the world.
And finally, on to the much-anticipated topic of education and preparing the next generation workforce. Prior to the session, our citizen begins pondering how we can properly prepare a workforce for an ever changing and ever more competitive environment. Academic institutions like San Jose State University are bridging the gap between traditional and innovative methods, using digital technologies to promote anytime, anywhere learning. The very best schools must position themselves as a vital contributor to digital community initiative. Along with it, there is a celebrated movement toward including broader professional readiness, as well as personalized social and emotional learning.
Vigorous smart cities and digital government conversations are underway all over the world. Of the most important themes that have emerged on the Meeting of the Minds agenda, financing challenges are considered among the more profound roadblocks. This year’s Meeting has a pervasive track focused on financing mechanisms and strategies that are working for early adopters. Best practice sharing and idea swapping show that there are clear steps that can be taken, such as getting assistance in leading projects, improving planning, and achieving a better understanding of the cost and benefits of a smart city. As leaders undertake the steps recommended and learned at this forum, they can move beyond the current barriers and start to capitalize on the benefits of a smart, digital community.
Gatherings such as Meeting of the Minds are enabling cities and countries to respond to increasingly complex challenges. It’s important that leaders and innovative thinkers continue to showcase best practices developed inside these living labs, allowing for the proliferation of ideas to help grow a smarter, more sustainable world.
You can watch the full Meeting program, streaming live: http://cityminded.org/webcast. And make your voice heard at Meeting of the Minds via Twitter: #MOTM2015.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post to discover more information on keeping digital communities safer and more secure. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cisco.com. Enjoy the Wednesday walkabout!
…We lived in a world where each and every child has equal access to a quality education…
…A place where all students can learn new and innovative skills, setting them up for success, even in this ever-changing world that we live in today…
With the amazing technological advancements that have happened in what seems like the blink of an eye, shouldn’t you ask yourself ‘why not’ rather than ‘what if’?
We’re now faced with an unprecedented wealth of data, and the exponential growth in the development of new knowledge is challenging institutions to rethink teaching and learning on a massive scale. The global population is booming, and there is a need to reach each student and prepare the next generation for an increasingly complex and competitive work environment.
The digital era and the Internet of Everything are already radically changing the way most of us live our lives. Technology is allowing us to take a fresh look at the challenges that we face and opening our eyes anew. Whether it’s ensuring access to education in the most remote corners of the globe or using technology to complement traditional learning in fun and creative ways, a digital classroom experience is helping to ensure that students all around the world can truly 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 the 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.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post. 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.