Collaboration in Times of Consolidation: Hot Topic for State CIOs

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

NASCIO’s 2019 Midyear Conference last week brought together CIOs from 45 states and three territories and provided a multitude of opportunities to network with CIOs and state representatives, including 16 new CIOs from last year’s election cycle.

The overwhelming trend this year was collaboration, both internal to state governments and externally to their partners and constituents. Collaboration will be a key piece of the CIO’s arsenal as more and more states look toward consolidating and centralizing IT infrastructure.

Consolidation brings many benefits – from cost savings and improved management to better network visibility. By consolidating networks and infrastructure into a centrally managed data center or cloud environment, the CIO and staff will have more time to work on unique applications and delivering outcomes for their agencies. However, getting state entities to commit to and actively participate in a consolidation effort takes more than just the promise of cost savings.

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Smart Cities to Watch Part 2: Denver and Richmond

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

In my last blog post, I looked at smart cities initiatives in Boston and Atlanta. This time, we’ll take a look at what’s happening in two more forward-thinking cities: Denver and Richmond.

Before we do that, however, it’s worthwhile to revisit the three things you’ll need to keep in mind as you build an ongoing relationship with decision-makers in those cities:

Align your solutions to each city’s goals. To become a long-term service provider in the smart cities landscape, you need to show that your technology can help provide better, more efficient services.

Tie your technology to the delivery of citizen services. Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Make sure that you can explain how your technology can improve services to citizens and the value it brings to the city.

Strategic partnerships are key. Smart cities need to technologies to integrate with other platforms and applications. Partnering with vendors that provide complementary applications and platforms will offer an integrated solution that city decision-makers will find compelling. Read more of this post

Smart Cities to Watch Part 1: Boston and Atlanta

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

According to IDC, U.S. spending on smart cities initiatives may reach $26 billion by 2022. That spending will encompass a combination of services and assets, with support from software and connectivity.

When entering this market, here are three things to consider:

Focus on the city’s goals and align your solution accordingly. Cities are trying to deliver better, more efficient services. Focusing on delivering that improved service goes a long way to show your desire to be the city’s long-term solution partner.

Develop strategic partnerships. For long-term success, smart cities applications and pilots need to be integrated with other platforms and applications. Seek out partners working on complementary applications and platforms and present the city with an integrated solution.

Align your technology to the delivery of services to citizens. Smart cities technologies need to deliver improved services to the citizen. Ensure that your technology delivers that outcome.

With that said, here’s what’s happening in two leading smart cities: Boston and Atlanta. Read more of this post

Technology Is Essential for Achieving State Priorities

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

It’s that time of the year, when governors make proclamations about budget priorities for the upcoming year. These speeches provide insight into areas where state agencies will be spending their money. These speeches rarely spell out overt technology priorities, but this year’s priorities of developing the workforce, improving physical infrastructure, increasing education funding and security — and not raising taxes cry out for technology.

Workforce Development
Many governors have spoken about increasing efforts to develop a more robust workforce. The discussion usually centers around training, especially technical training. Training today relies heavily on technology for its delivery of the curriculum and the subject material itself features a heavy dose of technology as well. In Massachusetts, for example, Governor Baker is advocating for training on advanced manufacturing, robotics and smart materials.

In California, the new governor stated a need for a comprehensive statewide strategy to uplift and upskill workers “to ensure technological advancements in AI, blockchain, big data…” State departments of labor and industry throughout the country will be looking for technology that will help match individuals to appropriate training programs, deliver education materials and track their progress.

Public Infrastructure
Another common theme is improving roadway infrastructure. Michigan struggles with an abundance of crumbling roads and bridges. In addition to repairing a multitude of unsafe roads and bridges, traffic congestion was also a problem cited by many other states, not just Michigan. State budgets do not have adequate funding to address this problem. With the help of public-private partnerships (P3s), though, many states are investigating new technology to help address infrastructure challenges, including traffic congestion. Read more of this post

NCPA Contracts Offer Access to a Wider Swath of SLED Marketplace

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

The subject of contracts piques the interest of vendors – seasoned and new. Contracts are that tricky piece of the sales puzzle that can push a great opportunity just out of reach – if your products and services are not on the right contract!

immixGroup was recently awarded two additional IT-related contracts, for a total of three, with the National Cooperative Purchasing Alliance (NCPA) that will make it easier and more efficient to sell into the SLED marketplace – across all 50 states.

Contract categories are:

  • 01-75 Systems and Information Management Software
  • 01-83 Data Storage, Cloud, Converged and Data Protection
  • 01-88 Software Products and Services

NCPA, based in Texas, competitively solicits master contracts that are awarded based on quality, performance, and most importantly, pricing. The best part: NCPA contracts are written to be accessible nationally to public agencies in states whose laws allow for intergovernmental contract use – also known as “piggybacking” or “adopting.”

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Are E-Scooters the Future of City Transportation?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Consultant

Electronic scooters seem to be just about everywhere these days, having appeared almost overnight. Companies such as Bird and Lime have placed these dockless e-scooters in cities around the country, in some cases successfully, in others with much resistance.

E-scooters can offer cities a way to meet environmental goals and reduce city congestion by reducing the number of cars on the roads — if incorporated into an integrated smart transportation plan in combination with other transit options. The apps these e-scooters leverage and the GPS signals they track can easily be integrated into existing traffic monitoring systems to provide a more complete picture of real-time traffic.

This new transportation option has not been met with open arms in every city. In fact, some cities have confiscated and impounded e-scooters after they have been deployed without city permission. Other cities have made pre-emptive actions banning the e-scooters. E-scooters appear to be facing similar city regulatory problems that ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft faced in the past.

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What is a Smart City?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Most of us who have been in and around the state, local and education space (SLED) have seen the term “smart city” more times than we can count. A simple search for “what is a smart city” returns dozens of examples, definitions and solution sheets that explain specific implementations being done under the heading of “smart city.” In a nutshell, a smart city is one that aims to improve the delivery of services to its citizens using technology.

That’s a simple definition and easy enough to understand, but, how does a city become smart? What technologies do they use to be smart? How does a vendor approach a city to make it smarter? And when you add in the typical SLED wrinkle with each city being its own fiefdom, finding a common definition and a strategy to target a smart city is understandably difficult.

Let’s dive into that definition a bit deeper. Cities provide all sorts of services to their citizens including public safety, transportation, health care and more. Each year, cities see their populations grow, thus increasing the number of people to whom they must now provide those public safety, transportation or health care services. The problem is that most cities aren’t seeing the same increase in budgets, leaving them with taxed resources and an ever-growing mission.

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