Can technology help government support community services and reduce costs?
Last week I had the opportunity to host two groups of visitors: a group of community policing leaders from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and a delegation of foreign exchange students from Iwata, Japan. I enjoyed meeting all the guests and the conversations we had about the many changes and challenges in our communities.
We discussed the impact of increased diversity and convergence of cultural values, critical budget issues facing government agencies, and the continuing need for citizen services for community safety and emergency response. We brainstormed ideas for how technology can help.
Despite the severe economic and environmental challenges, both groups were optimistic about our future and the potential for technology to play a positive role.
As part of our meeting with the Chiefs of Police, we demonstrated Cisco innovation and collaboration technologies including the Cisco Networked Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV). NERV provides capabilities for rapid response to emergency and disaster crisis situations. These technologies can provide a force multiplier to scale limited resources with reduced costs.
These demonstrations led to brainstorming sessions about the broader potential for technology that integrates data, voice, and video to provide a foundation for community involvement and a platform for sharing services across agencies. With the reality of budget cuts, government agencies can no longer procure technologies in silos. Instead, costs need to be shared across agencies with inter-agency capabilities.
Community policing stresses partnerships with the people in the local communities to help foster community involvement and interaction. Now more than ever, close interaction with the community can help combat the social problem of crime in the midst of dwindling resources.
The Japanese high school students were also optimistic despite the devastating 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that rocked Japan just six days before they boarded their flight to America. Even with the cultural and language differences, the students quickly made friends with smiles and exchange of gifts. This generation is very comfortable with technology and were quickly taking digital photos with their smartphones, checking in via email with families back home in Japan, and creating new virtual communities with their new friends on Facebook.
Despite the challenges of our changing world, I am also optimistic about how technology can help people improve the quality of life in our communities to:
- Act as a force multiplier for community safety and emergency response
- Help community volunteers deliver literacy, training, and jobs programs
- Enable Community Cloud apps for citizen services
I would like to hear your ideas about how government agencies are using technology to provide services for the people in their communities, while reducing costs and increasing overall efficiency of government.