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Gigabit Cities – Platform for Digital Government Innovation

Recently the new White House CIO Steven VanRoekel announced his ‘Digital Government’ strategy, reflecting a broad perspective

You don’t often hear the words ‘Government’ and ‘Innovation’ together, however while the USA`s Cloud First initiative certainly kick-started more Cloud adoption, really the important part of this development has been the emergence of the public sector as a dynamic catalyst for innovation, and the CIO as leader of this process.

In an age where austerity and bailouts are continually failing to re-ignite the economy, this is hugely important.

Digital Government: Future First Architecture

Recently the new White House CIO Steven VanRoekel announced their ‘Digital Government’ strategy, reflecting this broader perspective.

Highlighting this innovation focus, it has evolved Cloud First to what they now describe as a ’Future First Architecture’ that brings together shared service Cloud Computing, XML Web APIs, mobile apps, Big Data, and more.. It’s nicely explained in this GovLoop guide.

The foundations for a Digital Government Innovation program include:

  • App Store Innovation Nation - App Stores, like this one from Bell Canada, provide start-ups with faster ways to get new software products to market. Governments can run their own too, like the UK who makes their massive procurement spending more accessible to local small businesses through their “G-Cloud”. As this article explains it injects major growth into the critical small business sector.
  • Crowdfunding - In the USA the JOBS Act has enabled “Crowds” of investors to provide venture funding for new business ideas presented to them online, exciting a huge rush of new money and new ideas.

The recent US Innovation Summit highlights this new role of CIO as innovator, and described in this article the US CTO Todd Park says:

“Before coming to government, I spent my almost my entire career as an entrepreneur,” Park told FedScoop before his presentation, “and in that time I’ve never been surrounded by as many who have that same entrepreneurial drive and spirit than I do right now in the federal government.”

Other developments include the launch of a Digital Services Innovation Center, and also the UK is increasingly active in this area too, recently announcing a ‘Digital by Default‘ strategy as well.

Gigabit Cities – Digital Urban Hubs

Another foundation and especially hot space is the intersection of these trends with ‘Smart + Connected Communities’, aka Gigabit Cities, where local broadband networks provide the most fundamental building block.

The most high profile development in this area has been the Google project in Kansas City, where as this article describes it also provides a platform for entrepreneurial innovation, facilitating new developments in areas like telemedicine, Internet-TV and Cloud Computing among many others.

This relationship between this infrastructure and entrepreneurism has also been described in Canada, where in a Roadmap for developing the Digital Media entrepreneurial digital media industry they describe ‘Digital Urban Hubs’.

Based on the Montreal School of Arts Urban Hub project this features:

  • Network infrastructure : Ubiquitous high speed broadband infrastructure
  • Mobile network and device technologies to distribute, create, and present content/services (open network)
  • Centralized interoperable mechanisms for microtransactions
  • Research networks : Interfaces to universities throughout the world

Gigabit Cities rounds out this Digital Government strategy through a focus on investing in the network layer, open content sharing protocols and even providing office facilities for entrepreneurs.

This is a radically exciting combination of new platform capabilities, a perfect storm of innovations that can help more entrepreneurs fast-track more new ventures. And like the saying of it being darkest before the dawn, it comes at a time of economic stagnation when it’s needed most.

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