Government services and convenience are rarely seen within the same sentence; more often than not, the thought of making the trip down to city hall is a sure-fire way to increase one’s blood pressure. Cisco’s efforts around Smart+Connected Communities have continuously focused on identifying these types of pain points – advocating the need to design cities with technology at the core to improve delivery of new citizen services.
Citizen services in France
This month, efforts around the world in France, Spain, Germany, Canada and the United States have showcased the pivotal role of technology in the development of modern-day cities. More and more, the network has become an essential part of a city infrastructure – much like gas and water. When we’re able to implement a scalable intelligent network to create tangible service-delivery points for citizens, what we essentially create is an entirely new business model that promotes a shift in how public services are delivered.
The initiatives detailed throughout this post are not only exciting as an indicator of global acceptance from large communities around the world, but they also serve as a key initial step towards what we can provide with a full suite of transformational services. Through utilizing key technologies that bring access closer to the community, Cisco and its partners are transforming the means in which cities deliver government services.
Spot Mairie in Nice
Cisco is working together with the city and the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan Area to deploy the world’s first fully operational Cisco Remote Expert for Government Services (REGS) solution. Installed at the Nice Étoile shopping mall, a cabin has been fully equipped with a Cisco TelePresence system and collaboration tools to bring government services closer to communities.
Named the ‘Spot Mairie’, this deployment provides real-time access to key services such as certification requests, voter registration, requests for public services and a host of other offerings during regular business hours. Once inside the cabin, citizens interact face-to-face with a remote agent over video and are sent necessary forms remotely via a printer. A mailbox and document scanner is also provided for easy access. Spot Mairie aims to change how citizens perceive the delivery of public services and falls right in line with an agreement signed between the Nice Metropolitan Area and Cisco France for digital development efforts within the area.
Casa Del Mig, Barcelona
Traveling a little farther south, Barcelona City Hall and Cisco recently announced Spain’s first remote expert for government services deployment. As we’ve seen with Nice, Cisco TelePresence technology and collaboration tools have been installed in a booth at the Casa del Mig area of the city, providing citizens with remote access to a variety of government services (customized for that specific region).
This pilot program is a first for Spain and furthers Cisco’s collaboration agreement with the Barcelona City Hall to transform Barcelona into a global reference model for urban innovation.
Addressing the ‘blank spots’ in Germany
At the February meeting of the largest association of German telecommunications operators (BREKO), the Cisco Industry Solutions Group presented a live demo of the remote expert for government services solution to an audience of city and regional carriers – as well as municipal utilities. For a bit of background, the 140 members of BREKO help provide high quality optical fiber access to urban, as well as rural areas – covering the “blank spots.” As a result of the demonstration, we are working now to include the feedback from the association with ideas for improvement and more use cases. At the same time, a collaboration was announced between Cisco and ODR Technologie Services GmBH to help bring this solution to market; making them the first partner in Germany to do so. ODR TSG is developing an initial pilot in the county of Aalen. Stay tuned for more updates on how the solution could be rolled out in the German market.
Municipalities in Ontario, Canada
In Canada, the City of Stratford has been making major strides towards becoming a leader in digital media and infrastructure and was short-listed as one of the top intelligent cities by the ICF. Partnering with Cisco to help deliver the proper networking infrastructure, Stratford is focused on driving investment and innovation to transform the city’s future. Cisco has begun working with several progressive municipalities in Ontario to deploy REGS solution pilots. Forward-thinking municipalities – including Stratford – will trial remote expert for government services kiosks to deliver access to municipal government services/information and help further drive Smart+Connected Communities initiatives in the area. By utilizing technology to improve citizen services and provide greater ease of access, these pilots are another glimpse into what the future holds for a Smart+Connected Canada.
Remote Expert 1.8 Introduced
Building on the momentum we’ve seen globally with Cisco’s overall remote expert solutions across several vertical industries, we’re also excited to announce a solution update with Remote Expert 1.8. New capabilities continue our efforts around enabling partners to better connect customers with subject matter experts via immersive, virtual environments. These new features include scalable support, video in queue functionality for TelePresence and the integration of Cisco MediaSense to deliver audio recording, in addition to others. Furthermore, a newly enhanced Remote Expert Services Portfolio includes planning, building and management services to support a secure solution that effectively integrates with customers’ existing process and infrastructures – and to deliver the highest quality experience.
Connected Justice in Texas
Interactive Touch Pad. Photo: BILLY CALZADA, San Antonio Express-News
In other areas around the world, we’ve also seen how other Cisco technologies have been used to address the pressing challenge of delivering new citizen services. We turn now to the great state of Texas, where the Cisco Connected Justice solution is transforming the administration of routine court tasks and allowing city officials to improve court processes.
Connected Justice Kiosk. Photo: BILLY CALZADA, San Antonio Express-News
Last year, the city of San Antonio, Texas announced the deployment of interactive video kiosks for citizens to resolve Municipal Court offenses from right in their own neighborhood. Devised by Municipal Court Presiding Judge John Bull, court manager Jason Tabor and Cisco, these remote expert kiosks enable a live, interactive video feed where residents can speak with Judge Alfredo Tavera about their cases and the options available to them. The service allows up to 20 people to be linked via Cisco TelePresence to the court at one time and a touch screen with interactive pad is provided for ease of use.
This month, residents in San Antonio will find an up-and-running kiosk right in their own neighborhood grocery store. Resolving a traffic ticket won’t ever be pleasant, but at least it’ll be more convenient now. Additional kiosks are already available within a local community center outside of downtown. Collin County, TX has also explored the use of kiosks in their court system and is in the midst of deployment. All in all, these services are helping transform the means in which we deal with every day circumstances like traffic violations.
Delivering citizen services remotely in Barcelona
The Bigger Picture
The developments in these global regions provide a crucial step in the broader effort to transform cities around the world. Having the ability to access government services from somewhere as casual and accessible as a shopping mall is an important indicator of what’s possible. In Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities vision, the Internet can be the key platform in city planning and development efforts. As we see it, the Internet of Everything has a pivotal role in powering an amazing future – one in which the intelligent connection of people, process, data and things on the network will transform our cities and the way in which we conduct our day-to-day lives.
In my previous blog, I walked you through the Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail demo that I presented at NRF. This solution helps retailers catch, keep, and entice customers to buy and buy more.
This solution was explored in greater depth at NRF during our Big Ideas Session: Deliver Compelling Shopping and GREAT Customer Service with Interactive Technologies. This session focused on how delivering a compelling shopping experience and exceptional customer service with interactive technologies can help drive sales. Attendees heard how interactive touch screens, digital signage, and video collaboration can help retailers delight and engage consumers, cost-effectively address shopper questions by using local and remote experts, and quickly convert in-store browsers into buyers.
Watch the video below to hear our session speakers provide a summary of this compelling Cisco Big Ideas Session:
We do a lot of shows about video of course. It’s always a challenge I think when it comes to defining what the unique value of a given story needs to be. In this case, we were not featuring newly announced technology, which greatly simplifies the direction for us -- but we were considering what we thought were some unmet needs.
Our goal for this episode: To make Cisco video for collaboration more approachable for every customer.
Cisco does a lot of things in the broad category of ‘video.’ With more than 8,000 engineers working on video innovation, Cisco is a video powerhouse. Our teams have filed 1,700 video-related patents in the last five years. Innovations include TelePresence, Videoscape, Show and Share, Media Experience Engine, and Pulse Analytics. Internal innovation has been augmented with acquisitions including NDS, TANDBERG, BNI Video, Inlet, and ExtendMedia.
As we talked to customers and experts within Cisco, we kept coming back to a structure best defined as ‘where are you now’. In other words, video itself is not new as a concept…but as we narrow down to say this is about interactive video…it became helpful to consider where most Cisco customers might be starting from:
Cisco Voice -- you are familiar with call manager but have not explored the video capabilities inherent to the platform.
Telepresence - you have some high quality video deployed but its special…only for high end events or people.
Tandberg -- you are good with video but its a distinct system from your other communications -- Cisco or otherwise
Third Party and Cave Dwellers -- Anything from non-Cisco mixed environments to the luddites among us.
The assumption is that video is valuable and that the more pervasive and simple it can become in your organization, the more competitive and nimble you can be. So, with value established, the question becomes about execution.
Our executive guest has a very diverse business and video background who joined us from Tandberg. Jacob Nordan is Senior Director of Product Management for the Collaboration Business Unit. Powers had the honor of hosting his interview. Jacob set the tone for us by highlighting not just our success with various customers, but specifics around how these leaders were using video to pioneer change in their business.
Nathan Shaw joined us for our segment on ‘Understanding Video Endpoints.’ Nathan has been a guest on our show dating back to the very first Telepresence show we did where we helped him load up a Toyota 4-Runner with a CTS 500 so we could get it in the studio. Nathan is an awesome guy with a great background -- AND…he is a gushing, proud new father. Could not be happier for him…and very impressed with his photography skills.
From endpoints, we pursued ‘Understanding Video Infrastructure’ with Cynthia Lee. She was a bundle of energy grabbing the pen from Jimmy Ray to help us understand where things like MCU’s and Border Controllers become important to achieve certain video communication objectives.
Jimmy Ray did a Master Class on the intersection of video and security. Its was pure fun with Network Address Translation (NAT), Application Level Gateways (ALG)…avoiding risk and things that will go bump in the night.
We stole a segment from our upcoming new BizTech show that covered some advancements in using ‘Remote Expert’.
We wrapped up with Phil Marachel. We wanted Phil on to talk strategy as he is with our Cisco Services team. His street creed for video is fantastic however as he was doing video way before it was mainstream. As an engineer Phil worked on the biggest systems from PictureTel, the first MultiPoint bridges from Accord…all giants in the earlier years of video.
Hope you enjoyed the show. This is officially episode number 126 of TechWiseTV and we are loving the support you all continue to show us.
Good news: Customers are becoming people in 2013. It’s prediction season. The blog world is ripe with posts of premonitions and predictions for every horizontal, vertical, and diagonal cross-section of business, science, and life in general.
The year’s predictions for customer service have a strong focus on people and experience. Look back just two years and you’ll see a greater emphasis on the process and operational pieces of the puzzle. Then, customers were essentially the sum of their activities and accounts. Today, they’re people and need to be treated as such, especially with the power that social media affords them to share opinions, feedback, and feelings about their interactions as your customer. (Feelings? Not those! Can I even mention those in a corporate post?!)
Some common phrases pop up in this year’s predictions: experience, multichannel, social media, differentiation, personalization, collaboration.
Contact centers are moving beyond transactions to relationships. Service is becoming a competitive differentiator. Creating more interactive and collaborative customer relationships is making a difference. Customer satisfaction is about more than making sure the customer gets the product and that the product works. It’s about creating loyalty so that customer comes back and becomes your advocate.
How can collaboration technology help along the way? The following use cases provide several options and benefits: Read More »
I led the demonstration of the Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail in our booth. This solution transforms how you connect and interact with your customers. It offers a superior video and collaboration experience between shoppers and remote experts from any location within your store. It can help you entice shoppers to buy and more easily up-sell additional products and services while improving customer service.
Our retail customers were engaged and excited by this demo. Every time a live video call was placed to our Remote Expert in the booth, they immediately began discussing how this solution could be applied in their store environments to enhance the customer experience and train employees. Multiple customers returned to the demo several times, each time bringing different colleagues to re-experience the demo and discuss options for deploying it in their stores.