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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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Remember, It’s Just a Meeting

Driving the discussion of collaboration.

Today, the federal government is still heavily involved in placing people on an airplane and flying key decision makers across the world to meet in person. While face-to-face interactions are important, long-term productivity requires the flexibility and capabilities to facilitate immediate, impromptu meetings without technological restrictions. The fact is, being tethered to a desk or having to rely on transportation and conflicting time zones significantly impact communications. Further, amid shrinking budgets and fewer resources, agencies are also being asked to do more with less.

Collaboration technologies break down those boundaries, bringing the right resources to the right meeting at the right time. The value of these tools for government agencies can, at times, be stunted by the tendency to place them into silos. We must move beyond the siloed thinking of video to video, voice to voice and web-conferencing to web-conferencing to embrace a more integrated approach. In the end, the goal of every meeting is to connect people and share information. Collaboration technologies can help agencies meet this objective while lowering costs and increasing efficiency.

Collaboration: Taking a Unified Approach

The value of collaboration is seen when you move beyond the traditional tether of your desk. Collaborative environments are expanding as federal agencies no longer operate in silos. Federal agencies are complex, highly strategic environments where decision makers need to work together to improve citizen services and national security. Many programs are tapping subject matter experts (SMEs) to leverage the best talent for their technical missions—reaching across regions, silos, environments, and in multiple time zones.

By taking a unified approach with technologies, agencies are improving information sharing within and between individual departments and entire federal agencies.

Virtual training provides significant value to both trainers and trainees. A recent Govloop survey members found that 90 percent of respondents attended a virtual training in 2014. This Virtual Training Playbook outlines the benefits of hybrid training environments and offers a roadmap for arranging effective and engaging online trainings.

  • Many federal agencies have offices spread throughout the country and around the world. Cohorts from multiple locations, multiple entities, and multiple sites are using various collaboration solutions to connect interagency.
  • Key decision makers are also connecting across multiple disciplines. For instance, government agencies can connect to business leaders with niche skillsets that can help agencies accomplish their objectives. Think of it as bringing together some of the top minds in several relevant designated fields to collaborate on better solutions.
  • Managers can more effectively interacting with teleworkers face-to-face, improving relations with those employees and lessening the resistance to telework environments.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, collaboration solutions are being used to support citizen engagement and improve communication between agencies and the public. This is also helping provide new perspectives on the delivery of various government agency services.

Cisco offers a unified collaboration toolkit that provides customers with flexible solutions to meet end users’ needs regardless of the circumstance. To improve efficiency, agencies should identify the various stakeholders they communicate with and the collaboration tools that are best suited to interact with each of those groups. This enables agencies to adopt a unified approach to collaboration and build customized hybrid meeting environments. Furthermore, collaboration is helping push agencies to modernize their IT systems with architectures that serve the needs of today and help build a foundation to support the growing needs of tomorrow.

Government organizations are using collaboration solutions to enhance information sharing, boost employee productivity and increase citizen satisfaction while reducing costs and driving greater efficiencies. It’s important to remember that it’s just a meeting, and you should have access to the resources your team needs—no matter the form of collaboration—for successful business and mission outcomes.

To learn more about Cisco’s government collaboration solutions, visit http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/us_government/collaboration.html.

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Driving Conversations on Cybersecurity in the Public Sector

Just like private businesses, public sector organizations are taking advantage of today’s “boundless” infrastructures. They also face the same challenging reality when implementing those networks: a threat to data security. For public sector, the stakes are especially high. The proliferation of hackers, inevitable human errors, bring-your-own-device initiatives and the ever-broadening need to share information weigh heavily on government and education organizations, and consume substantial resources.

Against this backdrop, it’s more important than ever to be constantly discussing and innovating cybersecurity measures to keep networks safe. Cisco is not only an industry leader when it comes to providing cybersecurity solutions and services for the public sector, but it is also helping drive conversations with government and technology leaders around the country. In fact, Cisco will be attending a number of cyber-focused events over the next few months:

Cisco is a proud sponsor of the RSA Conference, an event that helps drive the information security agenda worldwide and plays an integral role in keeping security professionals across the globe connected and educated. Speakers will discuss everything from cloud computing to quantitative security, and include Secretary Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security.

This year’s CyberTexas conference will explore the intersection of cyber security and the ‘Internet of Things’. Cisco’s Kurt Harris, Senior Systems Engineering Manager, is presenting on This session will explore the importance of securing the IoT and how these security challenges impact the enormous opportunity presented by the IoE for public sector in the future. This session will explore the importance of securing the IoT and how these security challenges impact the enormous opportunity presented by the IoE for public sector in the future. This session will explore the importance of securing the IoT and how these security challenges impact the enormous opportunity presented by the IoE for public sector in the future. This session will explore the importance of securing the IoT and how these security challenges impact the enormous opportunity presented by the IoE for public sector in the future. the importance of securing the Internet of Things and how security challenges impact the enormous opportunity presented by the Internet of Everything for public sector in the future. Cisco is also sponsoring the “Securing the Internet of Things” track.

The 2015 Synergy Forum brings together government and industry practitioners driving our collective technology futures to examine the emerging fusion of physical and digital worlds. Gary Neal Akers, senior vice president of Advanced Security Initiatives, Cisco, will take part in a panel on security and the Internet of Things.

Linked by a commitment to cybersecurity, government agencies, intelligence personnel and industry leaders will gather at the 2015 Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium to discuss successful strategies for improving security. In addition to exhibiting its cybersecurity solutions at the symposium, Cisco’s Kapil Bakshi, Distinguished Architect, will be speaking on a panel titled “Secure, Operate and Defend in the Commercial Sector – How Do We Maintain and Increase Cyber Security While Providing Innovation in IT?”

Digital Government Institute’s 8th annual Cyber Security Conference will explore today’s cyber threats and offer an opportunity for those supporting government security initiatives to collaborate on how to detect, protect, and respond to these challenges. Peter Romness, cybersecurity solutions lead, U.S. Public Sector, will be presenting during the show. Cisco is a Gold Sponsor of the DGI Cyber Security Conference.

The NSA Information Assurance Symposium is a biannual forum hosted by the National Security Agency that brings, policy, governance, technology, hands-on training and networking opportunities to attendees from across government, industry and academia. Cisco will be exhibiting at the symposium.

That is quite the cyber roadshow! Also, don’t miss our webinar with GovLoop on April 30th for a discussion on how to stay secure and connected in the age of the Internet of Things. And of course, we will undoubtedly be talking cybersecurity during Cisco Live in San Diego, June 7-11th. If you are attending any of these events, please make sure to stop by and say hello!

 

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Cisco’s First Transparency Report on Law Enforcement Requests for Customer Data

As Cisco’s products and services evolve to new models, we find ourselves coming in contact with our customer’s data more regularly. We approach this role as stewards of this data with our customers interest foremost in our mind. One area of widespread interest as it relates to this data is how we interact with Global Law Enforcement regarding this data.   To that end, today Cisco is launching its first global Transparency Report on Law Enforcement Requests for Customer Data. In this report, Cisco details our principles regarding how we will treat law enforcement requests for customer data if, and when we receive such requests. We also provide specifics regarding how many requests we have received from global law enforcement agencies for our customer’s data.

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An Internet that spurs not strangles innovation

The world we live in today is one where people, process, data and – increasingly – things are connected as never before. The Internet of EveryThing (IoE), is driving the most dynamic area of innovation, creating new business models, economic, social and environmental sustainability and also has fantastic potential to improve our quality of life.

Just imagine: a blind man gaining independence because his once ordinary walking stick is able to communicate with his other senses through sensors, vibrations and GPS technology that guide him through the city maze. Imagine a connected car informed of traffic jams by analyzing traffic patterns and adjusting traffic light operations. Or think of smart manufacturing facilities that cut costs by reducing waste and energy consumption. And these are just the possibilities being realised today. Imagine what the future will look like in 5, 10 or 25 years from now.

We have barely begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. We don’t know what applications and services will shape the Internet’s future. To continue innovating, we need the Internet to remain open, giving the most creative among us the chance to experiment with daring new ideas.

We also must be sure not to stifle the very innovation that we seek to encourage. If we do so, it could inhibit growth and new ideas alike. This is why today we should focus on putting in place the right policy principles that will further develop this new Internet of Everything.

In policy debates, net neutrality is often understood to mean that all bits should be treated equally, regardless of whether it’s a text, email, picture or video. While at first sight this may sound reasonable, the truth is that such a strict net neutrality principle would become an innovation straight-jacket. It would require us to re-design the Internet as we know it, doing away with tools that have become essential to its success.

Different Internet services have different requirements. It doesn’t really matter if an email arrives now or a second or two later. But if you’re dealing with real-time applications – such as video communication, or buying stocks or monitoring vital signs, delays can have an incredible impact on user experience and effectiveness.

So the truth is that you have to manage internet traffic to make sure that the data that has to get there immediately – does.   This short video explains what traffic management entails and why it is so important.

Reasonable traffic management is so deeply embedded in the Internet’s core structure that it could not operate smoothly without it. This is the case already with the traffic loads of today, let alone in the future. Because management and scheduling are a crucial part of the Internet, we are closely following European efforts to formulate new net neutrality legislation. Cisco believes such legislation has merit but it could also have sweeping implications for reasonable traffic management and new services that would ultimately stifle rather than encourage innovation on the Internet. These implications can and should be avoided.

Fortunately it seems there is an increasing realisation among some policy-makers that net neutrality legislation, necessary as it may be, shouldn’t eliminate reasonable traffic management altogether. That approach would undermine rather than improve the quality of users’ experience. One way to establish net neutrality rules that prevent bad behaviour while maintaining a role for traffic management is to pursue a two-thronged approach where a line is drawn between the types of bad behaviour we do not want to see in the Internet and the necessary and reasonable traffic management techniques that ensure the fast, reliable and scalable networks that we all rely on, and need as consumers.

Equally, there is an emerging consensus that we must avoid overly prescriptive attempts to cast into law lists enumerating or narrowly defining the types of services other than internet access services that we deem “deserving” of specific levels of quality. Such attempts are bound to get it wrong in many cases. Moreover, any such neutrality law would quickly be outpaced and overtaken by reality. Building a Procrustean bed for the Internet is not the way towards a more vibrant digital economy in Europe. It is not necessary to have these prescriptive definitions and conditions on innovation as long as we maintain strong and clear safeguards to ensure an open and reliable Internet.

As the debate on neutrality in Europe enters its final phase, with trialogue negotiations starting this week, we hope the European Parliament will take a fresh look at the issue and we achieve a balanced final outcome.

In essence, the legislation we need should be sturdy enough to hold things together, but flexible enough for Internet entrepreneurs to continue adding new applications and services.

Just think about what the Internet looked like 15 years ago: a handful of wires, noisy connections that would bump you off from time to time, and streaming would be as quick as a snail. We have made huge strides, and we can continue towards an Internet of Everything – a smarter, more productive and efficient way at approaching life. But to get there, striking the right balance in Europe’s regulatory framework is more crucial than ever before.

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