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#WednesdayWalkabout Series Kickoff: The Internet of Everything and Tomorrow’s Digital Cities, Today

It’s Here and It’s Happening Now

As large populations shift to urban areas, cities are under tremendous pressure to compete economically and grow sustainably. In the era of digital disruption, citizens are also expecting more from their engagements with local, regional, and national government organizations and leaders. In response to these pressing challenges, communities around the world are going digital and creating new, intelligent connections with the Internet of Everything (IoE).

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Security Is a Top Priority for Feds and Should Be Moving Forward

It’s no secret that security is top priority for the federal government. It seems like every week we are hearing about a new threat, hack, or breach that has hit an agency. In just the past few weeks, we’ve heard about significant breaches that have resulted in both citizen and federal employee information being compromised.

Obviously, these kinds of attacks are putting agencies on alert. This is especially important as organizations continue to embrace new technologies and polices to improve operations and efficiency. As technology investments bring great new capabilities to government, it’s imperative that IT managers design security in from the very beginning.

I recently discussed this topic in an article published in Federal Times. The article explored how the Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE) need cybersecurity protection. In addition to a projected $4.6 trillion in value for global public sector by 2022, the enhanced connectivity offered by IoE technologies also creates an increased need for network security. For example, while BYOD programs are tremendously valuable, these initiatives also create a larger surface area for potential attacks by adding devices to the networks.

With billions of devices expected become connected over the next five years, it’s important that agencies have a plan in place to address their security needs. In general, agencies should focus their efforts on creating a cybersecurity strategy that is visibility-driven, threat-focused and platform-based. As more individuals and devices need network access, having real-time visibility becomes even more critical to gaining insight on surrounding threats and identifying system vulnerabilities. Also, presuming the network has already been breached it can help agencies be more proactive their approach. And lastly, a platform-based approach will provide scalability and flexibility required to address a variety of threats and reduce complexity through centralized management.

The number of ways IoE can make our lives better and our organizations more efficient depends mainly on our ability to think of new ways to use the technology. If we can be confident in the security of IoE, we can be confident developing more applications for it. All organizations should be in a position to ask, “Now that I am confident with my protection, what new things can I develop to save money or time and delight my users?”

Take a look at the Federal Times article for more insights around IoE and cybersecurity, and check out this white paper to learn more about IoE’s impact on public sector.

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Federal Agencies and the Internet of Things

Earlier this week, Federal Computer Week ran an article – “Are agencies really ready for the Internet of Things?” – that discusses the potential challenges government agencies face when implementing the Internet of Things (IoT). The article’s author spoke to Gary Hall, chief technology officer for Federal Defense at Cisco, about these challenges, as well as why federal agencies can’t afford to ignore IoT any longer.

The biggest concern that all organizations have with IoT is the massive scope it involves – there is a huge volume of data being produced and a need to store and process it all. Even just the number of connected devices is expected to explode in the coming years, growing from around 16 billion today to 50 billion by 2020. “Humans can’t deal with the volume of data we’re producing,” Hall said.

All this data means more chances for security breaches as well, which is especially worrying for federal agencies. In this case, awareness is key, as Peter Romness, a business development manager Cisco, spoke about at a recent GovLoop seminar. Romness cautioned that there is no “silver bullet” defense, so agencies must prepare to deal with inevitable hacks. “It’s not a question of if you’re going to get hacked, it’s a matter of when,” he said.

Despite these concerns, IoT experts agree that federal agencies cannot avoid the issue any longer, and if they haven’t already started planning for IoT implementation, they’re behind. Cisco estimates that IoT will generate $4.6 trillion for the public sector over the next 10 years, and agencies that are too wary of potential security issues risk missing out on this value. “This is the next big disruption,” Hall said. “It’s important that we aren’t so afraid of the fear of attack that we don’t realize the value.”

For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) – which manages nearly 10,000 government-owned buildings around the county – is reaping the rewards of its IoT- building management initiative, GSALink. GSA collects almost 30 million data points from sensors throughout its buildings, constantly monitoring everything from light to humidity. Using this data, GSA is able to optimize conditions when workers are present and save on energy costs when buildings are empty. IoT can add significant value like this to all federal agencies – they just have to take advantage of it!

Read more about how IoT can transform the public sector here, and check out more thoughts from Cisco’s experts like Gary Hall on our blog.

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Local Government and Law Enforcement Share Unique Insights

Cisco recently held a public safety panel to discuss how public sector agencies are addressing reduced workforces and constrained budgets. Central to the topic of discussion were cost-effective solutions to keep citizens and public spaces safe. Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, and Jeff Teer, a telecom analyst for the city of McAllen, Texas, were among the panelists who led the conversation. These leaders discussed integrating the right technology to enhance public safety and support the justice system.

Challenges for Today’s Sheriffs

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are evaluating how technology can reduce costs. Agencies are now working with technology to leverage the right resources, data and location information to support organizational needs and improve efficiency.

During the panel, Thompson explained the scale and scope of environmental challenges facing sheriffs. Due to current federal policies, sheriffs have taken a primary role in securing and protecting the U.S. border. Thompson noted that technology is a key component to helping sheriffs operate successfully. While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers a very robust and viable set of solutions for their personnel, deputies will sometimes have to cover more than 25 square miles alone in remote areas. These deputies need the technology in place to fulfill their roles and communicate with not only each other but other entities (like CBP) to provide support as-needed.

Sheriffs are being asked to do more with less, and be more efficient with less. This type of pressure paired with their unique civic obligations lead to a high-stress environment. Given these circumstances, sheriffs are generally slow to adopt intricate technologies, so they require solutions that are simple and easy to use.

How are public safety agencies improving efficiencies?

Teer explained how McAllen brought Cisco TelePresence into its warrant process to accelerate investigations that require easy and immediate access to a judge. This new deployment has minimized wasted time and maximized its value and efficiency for law enforcement and the judges. The city has plans to use video adjudication to support virtual arraignments. This force multiplier will be cost-effective and improve efficiencies. By using technology to collaborate across jurisdictions, stakeholders from different agencies federal, state and local can connect to improve law enforcement. This kind of connected justice is one of Cisco’s major public safety initiatives.

Law enforcement agencies rely heavily on planning, especially when it comes to planning and evaluating pipelines. Forecasting where an agency plans to be in the next few years is very important. These projections and input from every department can help agencies to improve overall connectivity and proficiencies.

Cisco is committed to providing public safety organizations with the technologies they need to do their jobs as efficiently as possible. Visit Cisco’s safety and security website for more information about how government agencies are using Cisco technologies and solutions to improve the lives of law enforcement officers as well as citizens.

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Government’s Journey to IPv6

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2015 North American IPv6 Summit. Several hundred IPv6 experts and networking professionals attended from across the country to discuss the IPv6 adoption, hear about the latest IPv6 research and learn what others are doing to prepare for the transition to IPv6.

To refresh, IPv6 is the next-generation Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides identification for computers on networks and allows computers to talk to each other. The existing Internet Protocol, IPv4, has a finite number of IP addresses, limiting the number of devices that can be given a new address. In fact, the free pool held by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was depleted in 2011 and the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) has less than 3.5 million IP addresses left, a supply so small it could be completely exhausted by June of this year. IPv6’s large number of new IP addresses make it a foundational building block for the future of the Internet, especially as increasingly more devices become connected as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

U.S. Government Should Lead

It’s not just that government agencies should be migrating to IPv6 themselves, it’s that they should be leading that charge given our history. Public Internet was born through the U.S. government, and as Internet leaders, we need to continue to be at the forefront of the Internet’s evolution. Currently, Belgium is leading the world in IPv6 capability with 49 percent adoption. By comparison, the United States is at 35 percent.

The U.S. government has issued several mandates and deadlines to facilitate the IPv6 migration among agencies. The most recent one in 2014 called for all government agencies provide IPv6 connectivity to their user community. However, despite the mandate deadlines, many government agencies are struggling to make the switch. Out of over 1,200 federal agency websites, less than 500 are IPv6 enabled. It’s time for the U.S. government to start leading this necessary transition.

Why Migrate Today?

Beyond simply providing more IP addresses, there are business benefits to transitioning for both private and public sector organizations. IPv6 will enable organizations to take advantage of numerous opportunities presented by IoT and the Internet of Everything (IoE) – the networked connection of people, devices, data and processes. For instance, future Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies need to be IPv6 enabled as new devices will automatically be IPv6 connected. Further, IPv6 will allow agencies to achieve value from future connections to help optimize business functions, support mobile workforces, improve security and enhance citizen services.

There will be an estimated 50 billion connected devices by 2020, which means migration is not an option – it’s a necessity given how few IPv4 addresses remain. If your organization is not IPv6 enabled, you won’t be able to connect natively with these new devices. In order improve network operations and processes in the future, private and public sector organizations will need to transition to IPv6.

So, why are some organizations and agencies putting off migrating? Simple – because change is scary. Organizations have been managing the legacy protocol for over 30 years, and there is uncertainty that comes with transitioning to something different. Also, many don’t fully understand the big picture benefits. By getting hung up on potential deployment challenges, IT managers and network engineers overlook the fact that their organizations won’t be able to leverage the power of IoE tomorrow unless they start transitioning to IPv6 today.

Create Your IPv6 Transition Plan

So what can government do to start leading the switch to IPv6? Below are five key steps to migrating to IPv6:

  1. Identify the business value and impact.
  2. Create a project team of IT professionals, technical business owners and an assigned project manager to manage progress and address any outstanding issues.
  3. Engage in assessment of equipment and assets for infrastructure readiness.
  4. Develop architectural solutions.
  5. Test, monitor and deploy IPv6.

As an industry leader in IP technology and pioneer of IPv6 technology since its beginning in 1996, Cisco is well positioned to assist government in this process from beginning to end. We have experts that can help your organization walk through each step above; from evaluating IPv6 readiness to offering deployment services, our IPv6 can expertise has helped organizations save time, money and resources. In addition, we have the widest range of platforms and features for IPv6 compared to any other vendor, which enables us to provide customized solutions sets to meet the needs of customers.

Ultimately, IPv6 is the global plan of record for a sustainable, scalable Internet, and public sector organizations need to migrate to continue improving operations and meet citizens’ needs. Click here to learn more about the IPv6 transition and how Cisco can help.

 

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