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Attention Agencies – It’s Time to Enable Your Mobile Workforce

I am drafting this blog on my laptop, sitting in the Embassy Suites lounge in Raleigh, North Carolina, enjoying the complimentary breakfast buffet. I share this not to disclose my breakfast habits, nor my whereabouts but to illustrate that we are relying more and more on mobile devices to keep us connected, both professionally and personally. In fact analysts predict that by the end of 2013, 80 percent of companies will allow BYOD (bring your own device) for employees.

As today’s workers embrace mobility, they have expectations that their experience outside of the office should mirror their experience inside the office.  With mobility trends like telework and BYOD on the rise, it’s important that government organizations stay ahead of technology trends to better deliver their employees with the right tools that allow them to collaborate from anywhere at any time.   Read More »

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The Power of Video for Government – Improve Collaboration, Lower Costs

Chances are, you’ve heard this line or a variation thereof before: “Video conferencing improves collaboration and lowers costs for organizations around the world.” While this is true, for this blog, I want to focus on ways video is changing government by sharing the story of two government agencies that are using video in new and unique ways.

We frequently hear how important it is to “do more with less.” In the face of sequestrations and reduced traveling budgets, this is a reality, and agencies are turning to alternatives like video conferencing. Video technologies such as telepresence are streamlining government processes and increasing collaboration, all while cutting costs. Read More »

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, Cloud and the Smart City: A Brighter Tomorrow

In my last blog, I discussed the benefits of Smart City cloud management capabilities. An intelligent IP-enabled network unites multiple services onto one infrastructure, allowing for tight operations management and lower expenses. Operating this network remotely, through the cloud, further enhances the capability for sustainable, effective city management.

As Smart City visions emerge in various projects in local government, we will see a combination of new ways of thinking, designing, planning, executing, and managing. Busan, South Korea has already discovered the powerful benefits of cloud infrastructure to create Smart+Connected Communities solutions. The government partnered with companies to create a Mobile Application Center to utilize city assets and the connected network. (You can also watch a video series, “Cities of the Future,” on Songdo, South Korea and how this new connected Smart City was designed, planned, and built.)

There are some important steps that other cities and governments can take to harness the power of the cloud to become more connected, efficient, and sustainable. A process on how to answer the Smart City call to action is further outlined in Cisco’s POV paper, “Smart City Framework,” and video.

1.     Use one intelligent, multiservice IP network.

This is the overarching mantra of a Smart City—connect systems and services to improve city livability. While it can seem daunting, it’s important to remember the long-term benefits of a connected city, especially using cloud management. Some of the most promising Smart City projects have shown that it’s possible to use the network to achieve some major goals of state and local government, including efficient city management and economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Savvy government leaders are recognizing the untapped power of the network and incorporating its potential into the early stages of planning and development. Many cities have experimented with including information and communications technology (ICT) solutions through small-scale “proof of concept” projects. Since budgets are so limited, it can be difficult to adopt a purely centralized approach, which means trying new techniques and learning from the enterprise sector.

2.     Build a foundation for public-private partnerships.

Read More »

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Collaboration Evolution: Why it’s Time to Upgrade to VoIP

Communication is key, yet too many government agencies voice platforms are living in archaic times.

As government agencies are turning to collaboration technologies like voice, video and mobility to increase efficiency and lower costs, many are faced with outdated voice platforms like Private Branch Exchange (PBX) and Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) .  However, the shift to VoIP enables organizations to modernize their communications platform for more robust communication applications, while significantly reducing operating costs.

VoIP provides significant net savings by allowing the management of managing one unified network and no longer needing to sustain a legacy phone system. It also provides enhanced features and VoIP services that improve the user experience. Advanced call routing, image transfer, phone portability, as well as integration with other collaboration applications, such as voicemail delivery via email, voice call button on email are examples of functionality users have come to expect. Read More »

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series: The Strategic Value of the Cloud for State & Local Governments

Almost everyone has heard of the “cloud,” as a result of advertising by computer companies and frequent mentions in the news media. “Cloud” refers to technology resources used by an organization that are not at their own location, but available over the global data communications network (otherwise called the Internet).  Moreover, the cloud is not just a question of getting access to some big data center in the sky; ultimately, it means gaining authorized access to any data or computing resource that is part of the Internet, and even combining data and software components from physically distant computers.

Public officials may have heard about how the cloud is being used in the public sector. For example, the United States Conference of Mayors had a session on this at its 2011 meeting where various mayors spoke about how their cities were using such services as shared email “in the cloud.” At the National Association of Counties, there have been sessions describing a cloud that is restricted to trusted government agencies at the state and local levels — what some call the “private cloud” because its services are not available to every organization, thus helping preserve the privacy and integrity of government data.

But the reasons state and local government officials might want to use the cloud are not often explained.  This post will describe the various ways that the cloud can provide strategic value to state and local governments.

Cost Savings

Most people have first heard of the cloud as a means of saving money, which is especially attractive at a time of tighter budgets. So instead of buying hardware and software, a government agency rents what it needs, when it needs it. This approach means you can shift from using bonds and debt service to an approach that matches your IT budget with the real demand each year.

And, often, the software services available in the cloud, such as email, can cost less per employee than licensing equivalent software in-house.

Resilience, Flexibility & Faster Technology Adoption

Potential cost reduction is not all there is to the story. There are other positive benefits as well.

Read More »

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