CES 2016: Show Room Floor to Government Doors

Digital Innovation for Government

“Challenged to use imagination on applicability in government, ideas from the show floor were endless,” says SGS President and co-chair of CES Government, Teresa Bozzelli, in a Government Technology article. As new technologies decrease in both size and cost it’s no great leap to envision how IoT and drones can be utilized by government to better serve citizen needs. Despite risks that come with these new opportunities, government needs to embrace industry innovation or risk becoming disengaged with the public it aims to serve. Bozzelli reiterates the importance of government’s acceptance of innovation: “With perseverance, commitment, fearlessness and most of all, imagination, government executives are back at the forefront of transformation, changing the game in digital experiences, while keeping the needs of their consumers -- the citizens -- in mind.” Read the full article originally posted on Government Technology or copied below.

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The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held annually in Las Vegas, touts itself as "the world's gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technology." At first glance, CES -- held this year from Jan. 6 through Jan. 9 -- may not appear to be a place where government IT professionals meet, but that is certainly not the case.

In 2015, more than 1,500 government officials attended CES; in 2016, CES welcomed such government officials as every member of the Federal Communications Commission and four members of the Federal Trade Commission; U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx; and representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, among others.

But also within CES is an exclusive government technology micro-conference called CES Government (CESG) -- a unique collection of 200 government and industry leaders, some of whom make the rules that govern technology and some of whom implement the technology. CESG gives this group an opportunity to discuss not only trends, but also how to take advantage of availability, size and capacity of new innovations.

Fueled with a high-powered agenda focused on cybersecurity, data, analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), these innovative leaders -- comprised of congressmen and congresswomen, government officials, and industry executives -- were ready to determine how to better anticipate and adopt commercial innovations across the challenges of government.

And there are certainly challenges. As business trends, market forces and consumer dynamics continue to create opportunities for digital engagement and empowerment within federal government IT, the barriers and risks in the way of innovation continue as well.

These leaders acknowledged that historically, government has been pulled in multiple directions and perceived as falling on both ends of the innovation spectrum. Once leaders in innovation, organizations such as NASA and DARPA produced ideas that were used as platforms for commercial implementation.

In recent decades, however, the equation has shifted -- and CESG provided a forum for frank discussion centered on a thorough understanding of the opportunities, challenges and current landscape of innovation with a clear charge to work as a team, use imagination, and act decisively and quickly to ensure ideas move forward. The stage was set with speakers who, early in the agenda, pushed this message. Emphasis was placed on rethinking imagination and the risk required to innovate at speed and scale while also bypassing the need for perfection and instead understanding the complexities of the world, allowing true value in innovation.

On the CES 2016 show floor were the latest innovations and insights in consumer technologies, which were essentially smaller versions of products boasted in previous years that are now more accessible thanks to lower costs. Although some may feel this perspective means progress is meeting its limits, the public sector can flourish off of these tweaks. As the technology decreases in size and cost, implementation within the public sector becomes both more efficient and cost-effective.

Challenged to use imagination on applicability in government, ideas from the show floor were endless. As Intel chips shrink in size, for instance, applications are limitless. Sensors woven into fabric could detect physical anxiety symptoms of soldiers and veterans, possibly preventing suicides.

Drones that are now faster, smaller and can avoid collisions could reach areas quicker during a search and rescue mission, or could create large networks that serve as a secure digital “wall” for U.S. borders, providing strength to our safety and security. The showcased IoT infrastructures are pervasive, imbedded and transparent. With proper and secure data visualization, agencies will be able to provide faster solutions to both short- and long-term initiatives, such as communications between vehicles and government to improve infrastructure, or to show warning signs or symptoms in patients, enhancing well-being and disease prevention.

The possibilities are there, but imagination is required to get it done. And government leaders acknowledge that barriers are evident.

Policies, standards, demand, security protocols and expectations, privacy concerns, and risk are areas that participants noted regularly in presentations and discussions. It is slowly becoming evident that citizens are more trusting giving their information to online retailers than they are filling out and submitting an electronic form on a government website. Government officials are becoming more hesitant to think outside the box if there is any possibility of a media frenzy on the horizon. And, without rewards, risk-taking is at a minimum.

A CESG speaker highlighted that a futurist perspective can strengthen the intersection between the commercial sector and government, which resonated well with the audience of eager change-makers. Translating strategies, ideas and processes into a business structure within government will quickly evoke progress. Even with the knowledge that barriers exist, CESG participants took the charge to act decisively and take risk now. If federal and industry executives don’t imagine the impossible, government will never catch up. Primed with digital disruption and capabilities that transform businesses through IT, officials are leveraging industry innovations in government environments, and by doing so, have started challenging the status quo.

CES Government began with the knowledge and understanding of the need and why. With perseverance, commitment, fearlessness and most of all, imagination, government executives are back at the forefront of transformation, changing the game in digital experiences, while keeping the needs of their consumers -- the citizens -- in mind.

Teresa Bozzelli, president of Sapient Government Services, served as the co-chair of CES Government for the second year in a row.

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Originally posted on Government Technology
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