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Bloomberg Philanthropies recently launched a $42 million initiative to help 100 midsized cities use data and evidence to engage the public, strengthen services and improve the lives of residents.

With the help of partners, the What Works Cities program will offer mayors and other officials technical assistance, training and peer networking to enhance their use of data. Eventually, the initiative will provide benchmarking so that cities can see how they perform relative to their peers.

To participate in the program, cities need to have a population of between 100,000 and 1 million residents and commitment from mayors and other senior city leaders. Find out more at whatworkscities.org.

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“The vehicle is a data-rich fortress which can provide most of the information the first responder needs, yet nearly all operations require the user to be outside the vehicle, quite the contradiction in many ways.”

One blog quotes technologist Britt Kane, who notes that having instant access to mission-critical data through the nationwide public-safety broadband network will be increasingly paramount for the safety of first responders. The FirstNet blog offers frequent updates on the national effort.

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Keep an eye on the following public-sector IT solutions and practices this year, according to the Public Technology Institute.

HOT:

  • Biometrics
  • Tablets and two-in-ones
  • Large multiscreen displays
  • Managed print services
  • Creating through 3D printers
  • Augmented reality
  • Big Data for data-driven decision-making
  • Video conference calls
  • Open-source software
  • Wearables
  • Internet of Everything
  • Smart sensors
  • Unmanned vehicle systems for civilian applications
  • OPEX

NOT

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VMware’s recent integration to enable one-click deployment of Docker containers from the desktop to the cloud signals that the development technology has truly arrived. Many organizations already use or are evaluating Docker for quality assurance or development.

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Cloud computing, mobility and Big Data affect how data centers are managed today. Modernizing the data center can help governments better support these trends. Focus on areas such as power, thermal management, network infrastructure, data storage and virtualization to improve efficiency, performance and cost savings.

Discover more in the CDW white paper “Keeping Pace with Data Center Revolution,” available here.

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By 2020, 50 percent of Big Data and analytics investment will focus on citizen service, public health, smart cities and reducing fraud, waste and abuse, according to IDC Government Insights' “IDC FutureScape,” December 2014.

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Think beacon-enabled proximity marketing applies only to retail? Think again.

California’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Los Angeles Zoo both plan to tap the technology to send visitors on their way.

Users of smartphones with iOS 7.1, Android 4.3 and newer versions of the operating systems can download apps to receive location-specific information transmitted via Bluetooth Low Energy beacons (beacons are small battery-powered pieces of hardware).

The LA Zoo uses beacons to offer guests a guided tour of the Rainforest of the Americas exhibit. Users can scroll through the app to learn about the nearest animal or habitat, watch videos, listen to audio files or view photos.

And the MTA will soon add as many as 50 beacons to LA’s Union Station to guide commuters to ticket vending machines or the nearest escalator, for example.

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Ah, the power of social media. Authorities at the Butler County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio recently used Facebook to arrest a suspect wanted on a range of charges, including violence and burglary, ABC News reported. The 21-year-old suspect commented on a Facebook alert the sheriff's office posted about him. The sheriff’s office response: “If you could stop by the Sheriff’s Office, that’d be great.” Read the full story here.

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