Technology in the public sector has revolutionized the way government agencies deliver services, conduct operations and secure sensitive information. Last week, I had the pleasure of learning from several prominent government leaders about how smart, visionary leaders have harnessed the power of new technology to transform the way they fulfill their respective missions.

We started by visiting the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) in Rockville, Maryland, which is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). When complete later in summer 2015 the NCCoE facility will be the epicenter of cybersecurity education, strategy and technology for government, academia and private industry and corporations such as Cisco. Now more than ever, such public-private partnerships are imperative in recognizing and thwarting common enemies who can wreak havoc by compromising sensitive information. This center will allow the top thinkers, practitioners, IT professionals and educators to collaborate and develop strategies to keep our sensitive information protected. Donna Dodson, director of the Center, hopes it will evolve into a hub for cyber solutions derived from government and private-sector tools.

Cybersecurity is a cornerstone of our defense infrastructure; especially since cyber attacks have the potential to dismantle key operations. We had the pleasure of speaking with Brig. Gen. Kevin Wooton, the director of communications and information at the Air Force Space Command, and Lt. Col. Jake Virag, who joined us from his overseas deployment via WebEx. Brig. Gen. Wooton listed security as one of his primary concerns in today’s technology space, given the proliferation of devices and the ever-burgeoning data exhaust.

Lt. Col. Virag discussed how the emergence of the Internet of Everything (IoE), from a military perspective, has allowed key leaders to work seamlessly with geographically dispersed commanders by employing the network to securely collaborate using video, voice and data. Furthermore, IoE delivers the value of not only collecting data, but also translating it into action for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance purposes, and in some cases automating that action. By installing connectivity and sensors onto everyday things, the military has been able to monitor and control operations more effectively. Though the Air Force has been using IoE at a tactical level for almost two decades, new technology has greatly expanded its scope and scale.

It is interesting to note that all of the topics we discussed are inherently linked; and speaking about one inevitably leads to recognition of the other’s importance. For example, wireless communication systems are essential to IoE infrastructure because they link data collection and control message delivery. And when there is transmission-sensitive data involved, one must have a strong, agile cybersecurity framework. Thus, while it is important to consider each of the moving parts, we must also understand the way they all connect and work together as a whole. Bridging these connections and subtleties will pave the way for the future of technological innovation.

One can learn a lot of about technological trends and forecasts by following the commentary of pundits. However, by venturing into the field and listening to the stories of leaders and practitioners firsthand, we can delve into the humanity of technology and understand the way it affects real people and the work they do every day for our citizens.

Learn more about NIST’s NCCoE on their website, and follow @CiscoFederal on Twitter for more updates from the field.


Patrick Finn

No Longer at Cisco