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The Library of the 21st Century

Today we live in a fast-paced digital world. And increasingly, towns and municipalities are expected to keep pace. Close to home here, I can say that the Town of Los Gatos is doing just that. In fact, it recently updated its network to allow for more future-ready capabilities—for the town library and many other services, as highlighted in the video, “Building Networks that Last.”

After attending the opening of the Los Gatos Public Library (LGPL) earlier this month, my perception of what a library is and what it can be has changed forever. With a completely new ‘green’ building and state-of-the-art technology throughout, the library has thrown out its old ways and stepped up to meet the needs and desires of the 21st century.

Recognizing that we are dependent on the internet, the library has updated its wireless to the high-speeds of 802.11n and has added 29 new double booting iMacs. Adjusting to the increase of people working remotely and wanting a place to work, LGPL has provided ample seating –some group spaces and others more private –all with outlets nearby or built into the tables. Hundreds of windows and study rooms with glass walls allow a generous amount of natural light into the library, creating a pleasant atmosphere and saving energy at the same time. It has also ditched the old rules of no eating or talking, so people can answer cell phones and have snacks while they work.

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Cisco Certification Firsts

As cyber security threats increase, meeting the rigorous standards set forth by the Common Criteria community, the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, and the Defense Information Systems Agency is more important than ever.

Cisco is an industry leader when it comes to government product certifications. Cisco’s Government Certifications ensure that its products meet the rigorous testing and certification criteria that are considered prerequisites for many of the world’s defense, civilian government and public sector network deployments.

Cisco leads and drives innovation in policy, requirements, solutions, architectures and standards enabling solutions to ensure mission success.

As a leader in providing certified and evaluated products to the global marketplace, Cisco maintains an active product certification and evaluation program for global government customers.

Check out the video below for the latest updates on Cisco government product certifications.

Stay tuned for more information on how Cisco continues to lead the way in government product certifications.

YouTube: Cisco Certification Firsts

For more information, please visit: http://www.cisco.com/go/govcerts

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Innovation in the 21st Century City

As a global director of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group’s Urban Innovation team, I’ve seen how broadband connectivity can radically transform urban life, while forcing us to rethink our entire approach to designing and managing cities. I recently had the opportunity to share some of my ideas on the subject at the 2011 World Council of UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) in Florence, Italy.

The Council represents nearly half the world’s population, from 36 countries and more than 1,000 cities—everywhere from Istanbul and Dakar to Helsinki and New York. In Florence, more than 400 mayors, along with municipal ministers, directors, innovators and other experts, met to discuss the daunting challenges facing today’s cities, while offering solutions in a creative and interactive forum. Topics ranged from transportation, utilities, and infrastructure to tourism and environmental sustainability.

Mayor Matteo Renzi of Florence, the host of the event, has worked with Cisco on innovation initiatives in his city. In addition to helping him plan the conference, I was granted the opportunity to moderate some sessions on urban innovation. Read More »

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A Public Manager’s Guide to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing—delivering infrastructure, services, and software on demand via the network—offers attractive advantages to the public sector. For example, it has the potential to reduce information and communications technology (ICT) costs by virtualizing capital assets like disk storage and processing cycles into a readily available, affordable operating expense.

One of the most significant cloud computing opportunities for the public sector is the ability to share ICT resources among multiple agencies. While governments have tried hard to create frameworks geared toward shared services, these have not always been successful. Cloud computing offers an easier and less burdensome route to more efficient and effective public sector information management.

Of course, cloud computing is not without its challenges:

  • A service provider residing outside of a government’s legal or territorial jurisdiction may put access or security at risk.
  • Open standards and interoperability may not be guaranteed, leading to the risk of vendor lock-in.
  • Data privacy is a concern when using public clouds. This can be addressed by the development of private clouds.
  • Business continuity will continue to be a concern. Cloud computing, however, may also mitigate this risk, as cloud vendors are likely to use more robust and better-maintained computing platforms that provide more redundancy and are less likely to fail.

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Cisco PSS 2011 Wraps on Encouraging Note; Experts Cite Public Sector Capacity for Innovation, Evolution

A quartet of distinguished experts on government and innovation closed the 10th Cisco Public Services Summit Sunday by presenting  a cascade of public sector innovations – all supporting the view that government can and will keep up with fast-moving digital technology.

Author Steven Johnson, former Canadian cabinet secretary Jocelyne Bourgon, former Australian finance minister Lindsay Tanner and Indian telecom entrepreneur Sam Pitroda provided an invigorating finish to the 2011 Summit, attended in Oslo by delegates from more than 40 countries.

Johnson, author of “Where Good Ideas Come From,” cited examples of public agencies creating new kinds of data and dialogue from low-tech neo-natal incubators designed for the third world to New York City’s 311 information line.

“It’s the borrowing and remixing of idea that is so often the key to innovation,” said Johnson.  “When you break down silos you get new approaches to problems… There’s no reason why your ideas shouldn’t be free to flow and be improved upon in other peoples’ minds.”

“Chance favors the connected mind,” concluded Johnson.

Canadian researcher and former cabinet secretary Jocelyne Bourgon said government must redesign itself in a world of diminished funding – “I have not found any country that has been able to balance its budget by ‘doing more with less,’” she said – adding that “technology can be a crucial driver in the capacity of reinventing.”

But Bourgon expressed optimism that governments will answer the call. “We now have a generation of public sector servants raised in virtual communities,” she said, noting that traditional, vertically-structured agencies are learning to co-exist with distributed networks.

“We used to define policy as a decision,” said Bourgon. “Now it is a joint experiment [with the public] amid an ongoing process.”

Former Australian finance minister Lindsay Tanner agreed, noting that public sector institutions built on industrial-age principles of hierarchy, control and secrecy “cannot survive in a world with universal instantaneous communication.” But he cited examples of Australian public agencies rising to the challenge, from  obtaining Creative Commons licensing for government documents to asking citizens to co-manage a database of World War I military vets.

Tanner  dubbed the new level of communication afforded by web technologies “multilogue” versus mere “dialogue” – multilogue communication defined as “collective, interactive, and collaborative, involving an unspecified number of people who are talking to each other as well as the government.”

“Technological change alters human behavior,” said Tanner. “It doesn’t just mean a better way to do what we’ve always done. It changes the calculus of what we do.”

Pitroda, the Indian entrepreneur, added that government has a moral imperative to innovate on behalf of the poor. “Technology tends to be used to solve the problems of the rich, who don’t actually have many problems,” he said. “To me, technology is the key to begin to change the fabric of Indian administration and delivery for education, health care, everything.”

Pitroda noted the astonishing speed with which digital technology is spreading in Indi, reporting that 250,000 local government will be connected to optical fiber within two years. “The key is to use this infrastructure to really begin to transform business models,” Pitroda told the PSS audience.

Before departing Oslo, PSS 2011 delegates attended the traditional Nobel Peace Prize concert Sunday night honoring the 2011 laureates: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian human rights activist Leymah Gbowee, and Yememi democracy campaigner Tawakkal Karman.

For a recap of the 2011 Public Services Summit visit cisco.com/go/pss2011.

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