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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: A Backpacker’s Guide to Digitization

Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

Innovation at the Forefront of Everything

As the 2016 Rio Olympics draw nearer, the eyes of the world are turning to Brazil and South America. Latin American economies have historically been increasingly exposed to global uncertainty and economic volatility. However, the region has made significant progress in adopting technology innovations leading to economic development and initiatives to accelerate and stabilize growth. And as host to some of the world’s largest events, Latin America continues to attract industry leaders, economists, financial executives, technologists, and government innovators that are rallying behind the quest for change. Significant drivers of that change will be innovative technology adoption and digital transformation.

Along with the rest of the world, Latin America is witnessing that digital technologies are not only an essential building block of a society, but currently also the driving force behind social, economic, and political development. We are the fortunate ones to live through – and hold the responsibility to shape – an era in which ubiquitously connected information and communications have become the catalyst of human progress. We really have only scratched the surface of what is possible. And as we observe businesses, communities, and countries as they progress in their respective digital revolutions, we will only continue to deepen our understanding on how technology innovations transform our world.

The Latin America Backpacking Experience

This week, our digital citizen is feeling adventurous as ever. In deciding to take a break from the average workweek, our citizen planned a backpacking excursion throughout Latin America. Follow along as we learn and see first-hand how technology is transforming lives in the region, with new job skills, entrepreneurial opportunities, innovative services and stronger, digitally inclusive societies. Read More »

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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Digital Public Safety in Action

Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

A New Approach to Public Safety

Lately, constant news coverage has been shining a spotlight on the increasing amounts of pressure that public safety and justice agencies are enduring. Preventing crime is vital to developing vibrant and safe communities. The reality of shrinking budgets and resources in the midst of calls to modernize is creating a challenging paradox, and public safety officials are tasked to deliver mission value in new ways. For example, results from an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Major Cities Chiefs Association survey estimated 53 percent of counties in the United States are working with significantly fewer staff today compared to a decade ago. The fact is that law enforcement agencies can’t afford to put more officers on the street.

Public safety leaders are now are turning to digital technologies as force multipliers to compensate for recent reductions in staff, drastic budget cuts, and the evolving cyber and physical threat landscape. A number of emerging technology solutions are helping law enforcement, corrections departments, emergency responders, courts, and national security agencies modernize and cut government costs by streamlining operations while still producing mission-critical outcomes.

Technology on the Leading Edge

First, our digital citizen is honored to spend the week at the IACP annual conference. After attending this week’s sessions, the citizen has picked up on a few trending themes and important issues that our law enforcement officials face. Of particular importance throughout the conference was the focus on body-worn cameras in the forefront of today’s policing conversations. However, an officer cannot just simply slap on a body camera and call it a day. Secure and updated networks and the ability to move data storage to the cloud must first be in place if it isn’t already. One session in particular featured an estimate that body-worn cameras could result in about 1 terabyte of data per officer per year. Statistics seem to and will vary on a community-by-community basis, but it’s relatively easy to agree that with the vast amounts of video data, secure storage is a major technology issue that will need to be addressed. Here, cloud will be key. And not just for body-worn cameras, but for everything in the digital scope, from evidence management to video surveillance footage. Read More »

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Happy National Cyber Security Awareness Month!

Did you know that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month? Here at Cisco, we understand how important cybersecurity is in today’s interconnected world. Because the Internet touches an increasingly large part of our lives, it’s necessary to engage and educate the public about how to stay protected. While we highlight the importance of cybersecurity in October, at Cisco we have initiatives and programs in place to make sure the education continues throughout the rest of the year as well.

We start from the inside out, making sure that our own employees are fully educated and trained in the latest in cybersecurity. Our Cisco Security Ninja Program, which challenges participants to reach for higher degrees of competency and proficiency in product security, has been a huge success. Employees can earn four distinct belts– white, green, blue, brown and black – that represent their advancing cybersecurity knowledge. Additionally, we offer a program in conjunction with San Jose State University that enables Cisco employees to earn their Master’s degree in Software Engineering with an emphasis in Cybersecurity. Plus, every year we have an internal conference on security – SecCon – that brings together hundreds of engineers from Cisco offices around the globe to share their knowledge and increase the overall security posture of Cisco products. All of these programs help ensure that our own employees are experts at the latest in cyber protection.

Beyond ensuring that our own employees are well-educated, we’re committed to spreading awareness about cybersecurity to the general public as well. One of the programs we’re most proud of is our Cisco Network Academy. Cisco Networking Academy helps one million people each year develop technical skills and prepare for ICT careers. The curriculum – which includes courses on cybersecurity – is offered by more than 9,000 institutions in more than 170 countries. After all, in a world that is increasingly connected, cybersecurity is a global issue, not just a local one. Read More »

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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: City Leaders Converge to Learn From Each Other

Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

Changing our outlook for a changing world

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: And make your voice heard at Meeting of the Minds via Twitter: #MOTM2015.

Next Stop

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.

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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: Stay Protected While Always Connected

Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

Cybersecurity for all

October is #CyberAware month. This year marks the 12th anniversary of this national cybersecurity awareness campaign, with it bringing a hot topic of discussion. In the digital age, increasing amounts of data are being shared in new and often unanticipated ways. This ever-growing abundance of data, devices and connections brings a set of new security threats. And increasingly, governments are feeling the heat. In fact, cyber attacks on United States government agencies increased 782 percent from 2006 to 2012 (source: GAO-13-187).

Just like private businesses, governments want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies. However, the stakes do not just hold financial or competitive ramifications. Governments at each level hold large amounts of citizen information and sensitive intelligence. It has become more imperative, yet more difficult, to secure and protect critical information and infrastructure, government assets, and citizens. Recent data breaches and cyber attacks targeting companies and government services have not only fostered public fear, but have also dramatically changed the security landscape making personal digital protection as important as physical protection. Individual technology users are taking on greater responsibility for understanding potential threats, to self-educate, and take the proper steps toward protecting themselves online.

With this serious cybersecurity situation urgently requiring the attention of public sector leaders, network security intelligence—the ability to predict, identify and react to potential threats—is taking on a new importance.

Protect your community against cybercriminals

Today our citizen is a cybersecurity warrior both at work and at home. After a cup of coffee and a quick perusal of the local newspaper, it’s time for work, where our digital citizen is a government leader charged with protecting citizen data, critical infrastructure, and strategic government information.

First on the agenda is a summit meeting of local and national cybersecurity leaders. The venue’s network simply has to work. It has to be secure. And for a cost-effective implementation, it needs a set-up that can be re-used elsewhere for future gatherings. As the organizer, our digital citizen takes a page from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their successful hosting of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague.

Our citizen is now rushing to make a meeting with the community public service administrators. In the face of dwindling budgets, the group is set to discuss how to cost-effectively deliver secure, streamlined services to its widely dispersed population of more than two million residents. Like the government of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, our citizen recommends a robust web security solution that can also meet identity and access policy requirements. Our citizen also referenced Florida’s Pinellas County, which has seen great success in securely expanding and improving services and convenience for its residents and employees.


After a quick lunch on the go, it’s time for the digital citizen to meet with the community’s Fire Chief. The fire service has over 100 branch offices, which presents a significant security challenge at the edge. End users also rely on a wide range of mobile devices—including smartphones, tablets, and laptops—and require different access levels. The Chief requests extreme reliability that their caliber of work demands, as well as improved security, scalability, and manageability. Like the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the community’s emergency services network has to be ready to respond to any circumstance, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Ordinary civilians, meanwhile, face new urban threats in the form of Internet fraud and identity theft. You wouldn’t leave your house unlocked, accept gifts from a stranger, or leave the keys to your car in the ignition. So why is a digital security solution less obvious?

The workday is over and our citizen is now at home. Recognizing that as the line between our digital and physical worlds become increasingly blurred, it’s more important for owning personal online presence. Our citizen has taken some preemptive steps to staying safe and secure online. Especially as a government employee, it is the citizen’s responsibility to implement best practices at home and the workplace.

First, the digital citizen takes time to understand the cyber players for consideration—both inside and out. Not only are hackers a threat to personal and professional information, but benign, insider activity can also expose vulnerabilities to malicious actors. That is why our citizen teaches their entire family about protecting themselves online. In fact, with the growing trend of youth cyber awareness and education programs, the digital citizen’s children are encouraged to learn about cybersecurity through camps, classes, and after-school programs. Finally, our citizen uses simple practices that can easily be implemented such as, changing passwords regularly, and avoiding using the same or simple passwords across personal and professional accounts. The citizen also makes a point to ensure Internet-connected devices, like laptops, phones and tablets, don’t fall victim to malware by keeping software of operating systems up-to-date. On the use of social media, our citizen recommends checking privacy settings, recognizing that hackers can take advantage of public information to draft targeted emails for phishing.

The concepts of smart cities and digital government are revolutionizing the way in which everything is managed and delivered in the public sector. At the same time, a growing dependence on digital technology to deliver everyday services brings with it new vulnerabilities. Our citizen displays an important takeaway. From the workplace to the home, everyone is responsible for cybersecurity and needs to be proactive in maintaining security standards in all aspects of our increasingly digital world.

Next Stop

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post from #MOTM2015. And be sure to check back each week as we explore new themes, challenges and observations.

Series Image (1)

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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