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Creating More Sustainable and Innovative Cities, Regions, and Nations

Post by Gordon Feller, Director, Urban Innovations, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group

Perhaps more than ever before, public sector leaders are concerned about their organizations’ ability to respond to new policy and service demands, budget reductions, and the need to engage new technology platforms for innovation and service delivery.

This scenario is further complicated by today’s uncertain and volatile socioeconomic environment, and by the growing imperative to make sense of the complex interplays that link natural ecosystems with the infrastructures that move our energy, people, goods, waste, and water.

Resilence has become priority No. 1 for the public sector—both in terms of coping with unexpected shocks (economic, natural, environmental), and in having the agility and capacity to anticipate and address the risks and opportunities that accompany big transitions and socioeconomic changes.

These challenges and opportunities are major themes at this week’s Meeting of the Minds 2011 conference in Boulder, CO (September 22-23). Presented by Toyota, with global co-sponsorship by Philips, Deutsche Bank, and Cisco, Meeting of the Minds allows participants from the public, NGO, and private sectors to engage in lively discussions on how to “connect the dots” across key sectors: mobility, building systems, energy and water resources, and finance.

More than 200 leaders from a dozen countries will explore a rich variety of smart design, planning, policy, and technology innovations that enable cities, regions, and nations to respond to increasingly difficult challenges.

As a global sponsor of Meeting of the Minds 2011, Cisco and its global consultancy, the Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), have helped shape the conference agenda and will present recent thought leadership on topics including “The Resilient Society,” Urban Innovation, Connected Vehicles, and Work-Life Innovation.

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Machine Builder Business Models, Sustainability and Innovation

So my wife and I recently took a two week vacation to Alaska – without computers or anything but camera’s and our ever important smartphones. I didn’t realize that Marie Hattar, our Segment VP was going to write a blog about the importance of vacations and productivity – see that here. Imagine that, I overachieved via a vacation!

At any rate, back to the vacation – we left on Sunday so Saturday was reserved for clothes washing and packing. Great plan until the motor on the washing machine froze. We ended up Saturday night finishing the wash at her father’s house. Then after the trip (that was fabulous by the way. Everyone needs to take a cruise through the Inside Passage!) we ended up having the repair service visit to confirm the motor was shot (new motor cost more than the washer was worth, so conclusion: buy a new one) and using his washer/dryer for another week. That meant bundling up two plus weeks of wash, carrying it to his house, doing the wash for a few hours, etc.

I was reminded of the challenges a manufacturing company would have due to an unexpected machine breakdown. You have to isolate the problem, get appropriate repairs, possibly upgrade the machine, possibly line up alternate manufacturing capability, etc. I’ve blogged before about the needs for continuing MRO schedules and the importance of properly servicing your manufacturing machines and lines. But how do you prepare for a critical machine that suddenly breaks? Can you rapidly sub out the work? Can you quickly get the machine replaced? What if the newer machine doesn’t fit in the line directly? Read More »

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How To Make the Federal Workforce More Productive, Inclusive, Sustainable, and Resilient

Although federal agencies have made tremendous progress in reversing a sustained decline in telework participation, the objective of creating a more productive, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient federal workforce remains a work in progress.

The U.S. Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 dramatically improved the odds of success by creating Telework Managing Officers (TMOs) responsible for telework policy development and implementation in every agency. The first cadre of TMOs faces an exciting-and daunting-opportunity to create lasting impact in their agencies. They should interpret their roles broadly, to include not only the promotion of traditional telework arrangements, but also the development of mobility strategies that contribute meaningfully to agency business objectives such as productivity, inclusion, resilience, and sustainability.

Doing so will require engaging agency leadership on a range of different topics to develop an integrated plan.

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Maintain or Replace – be Energy Efficient or not – continuing the debate

So the other day my wife told me the water in the shower didn’t seem as hot as it normally does. “Maybe something wrong with the water heater?” she said. I did all the normal checks: no water on the basement floor, pilot is lit, check, check. All seems ok.

We happened to go to Home Depot to buy some other stuff, but we ran into the water heater guy.  His diagnosis: water heater going bad. (Full admission, it is 11 years old)

I kind of buy his story, it makes sense. Here is an appliance that is 11 years old that I never maintained. Expected life is 10 years, so I am already plus one, right? And maybe a new one would be more efficient, right?

But isn’t that the sort of internal argument manufacturers go through every day? Sunk cost (what they already paid for) vs. Maintenance vs. Replacement? How efficient are the machines you bought 10 or 15 years ago? How do you know? How much does it cost you for a shutdown for two to three days while you secure a replacement machine and install it? Wouldn’t that information be valuable to you if it was visible? How do you know?

Energy management/awareness is certainly a big part of this sustainability issue. Check out this video from Chet:

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Talk2Cisco Recap: The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not what it was a few years ago, and, as we learned in our latest episode of Talk2Cisco, it goes far beyond pure philanthropic efforts. Kathy Mulvany, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at Cisco and Jennifer Biringer, Director at SustainAbility, a think tank and strategy consultancy based in San Francisco, CA bring their expertise and insights around the evolution of CSR in the latest broadcast.

Highlights from Talk2Cisco: The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility

01:34     Definition of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

02:59     Definition of Sustainability

04:02      Misconceptions of CSR

08:15     How Cisco reports CSR

23:43     Emerging trends in sustainability

28:11     Cisco CSR and the environment

Read more about Cisco’s CSR efforts.

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