Drone hitchhiking, algorithms gone wild and a city plans an ICO — This Week’s 10 Reads from a Chief Innovation Officer

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I read over 100 articles this week so you don’t have to — Here are the top 10 you should read over the weekend and why they matter for the public sector. Let’s dive in to this week’s reads —

The Articles —

Out of over 100 articles, here are the top 10 that stood out this week:

🚛 Amazon’s delivery drones could hitch rides on trucks to save powerhttp://bit.ly/2EfDts0

🚀 SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful rocket http://cnnmon.ie/2GWdnfh

😎 Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal http://on.wsj.com/2nM1NeS

🤑 The city of Berkeley wants in on the cryptocurrency mania http://bit.ly/2E9aFkU

👉 On This Blockchain-Based Version Of Airbnb, There’s No Middleman http://bit.ly/2E8KeQl

📱 Mozilla announces an open gateway for the internet of things http://tcrn.ch/2sewUnR

🐝 How Swarm Intelligence Is Making Simple Tech Much Smarter http://bit.ly/2Ech4jr

📉 A down day on the markets? Analysts say blame the machines. http://wapo.st/2ENdSru

💼 Here’s how ‘employees’ of platforms like Uber could get proper benefits http://bit.ly/2nQJXHz

🎨 Artists envisioned the future of work, and the results are pure fantasy http://bit.ly/2sol22O

The Bottom Line —

Just in case you don’t have time to read each article, here are the key takeaways and why each one matters for government:

🚛 Amazon’s delivery drones could hitch rides on trucks to save power http://bit.ly/2EfDts0

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: In a recent patent filing, Amazon outlined a concept where delivery drones could hitch a ride on other transportation vehicles (through a negotiated fee) for parts of their delivery trip. Range has always been a concern of drone delivery, but Amazon’s patent filings show they think the answer could be leveraging parts of the existing transportation network like trucks and even trains. For government, it’s important to remember that it will be impossible to try to regulate and design infrastructure for each component of our transportation networks individually; rather, we must prepare for a future where people, self-driving vehicles, delivery drones, etc. are able to collaborate for great efficiency.

🚀 SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful rocket http://cnnmon.ie/2GWdnfh

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This week, the world paused for a few minutes as Elon Musk and SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket (and Musk’s Tesla Roadster) into orbit. It was an exciting moment to witness for those of us that were not here to witness the Apollo program in its glory days. So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with government? Well, this launch shows a further democratization of space, which will lead to some elements that will impact government. There are two coming implications for government:

  1. Access to Space — SpaceX has significantly reduced the cost of launching items to space and combine this trend with the rise of inexpensive CubeSats (you can build a satellite for $40,000) — and you have the makings for some disruptive things. State agencies that are tasked with functions that require access to high-resolution imagery may begin to look at launching a CubeSat as a cheaper option then licensing imagery or sensor data.
  2. Connectivity Musk wants to connect Earth, and with SpaceX and the largest Internet satellite constellation project, he might just be able to do so. For rural agencies, connectivity can be a struggle and satellite-based internet has never been a sustainable option — but what Musk is proposing could change that and hopefully enable the rest of the world to come online.
😎 Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal http://on.wsj.com/2nM1NeS

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Last week, one of the reads was about the race for developing augmented reality (AR) glasses — and this week we have a read that is a fitting example of where this technology is heading for first responders. First, there are definitely privacy implications of head-mounted cameras always scanning and recording, similar to the debates happening now about fixed license plate readers and going all the way back to Google Glass. For government, these issues will need to be handled but there is so much opportunity in embedding intelligent sensing (through AI, machine learning, etc.) capabilities on top of cameras for first responders. For example, imagine making every police body camera a tool that also was constantly on the lookout for a firearm or other indicators that the officer may have missed in the speed of the moment. Then it’s no longer just a camera that records things — it becomes another set of eyes for augmented the officer and protecting the public.

🤑 The city of Berkeley wants in on the cryptocurrency mania http://bit.ly/2E9aFkU

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Talk about pushing the envelope, what the City of Berkeley is proposing could lead to big disruptions in the way cities raise capital. Government agencies commonly sell bonds to finance capital improvements and other capital needs, but the City of Berkeley is proposing emulating an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to raise funding in collaboration with Neighborly and the Blockchain Lab at U.C. Berkeley. This experiment could help open the door to a full city ICO in the future, making it significantly easier and more transparent to raise capital for cities of all sizes. If you’re interested in learning more, GovTech did a great deep dive into this announcement.

👉 On This Blockchain-Based Version Of Airbnb, There’s No Middleman http://bit.ly/2E8KeQl

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Blockchain, which is the underlying infrastructure for bitcoin (and used as a foundation in all other cryptocurrencies), is a decentralized ledger that is immutable, permissionless and transparent. What makes the blockchain infrastructure so disruptive is that you no longer need a central authority (i.e. a bank, government, etc.) for trust. The exciting thing here is that cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, are not the only use-case for the infrastructure — you can do peer-to-peer lending, smart contracts, etc. Now we’ve seen one of the first sharing economy use-cases for the technology that allows individuals to rent out a room in their house or the entire house, directly with the individual that is interested in doing so — disrupting Airbnb as a central authority in the process. For government agencies, if you think Uber challenged your regulatory environment just wait till self-driving cars are dispatched on a peer-to-peer marketplace, where there is no central authority. If you’re interested in learning more about blockchain for government, I have compiled some links on my website — including a recent DSPI webinar on blockchain for state government.

📱 Mozilla announces an open gateway for the internet of things http://tcrn.ch/2sewUnR

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was an interesting announcement by Mozilla, that instead of letting the large companies (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Google, etc.) determine the standards for your internet of things devices — it should be open and interoperable across manufacturers. Mozilla’s describes it best in the announcement on their website, “We believe the future of connected devices should be more like the open web. The future should be decentralized and should put the power and control into the hands of the people who use those devices. This is why we are committed to defining open standards and frameworks.” For government agencies, it’s important to be involved in the conversations shaping standards and protocols around IoT, because a smart home’s infrastructure can can be easily turned against a government agency or mission-critical infrastructure if the right safeguards are not in place.

🐝 How Swarm Intelligence Is Making Simple Tech Much Smarter http://bit.ly/2Ech4jr

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was an interesting read about swarm behavior and its implications on robotics, data mining, and human behavior. For government, you don’t need to become a swarm intelligence expert to be a good planner — but there is a benefit in understanding that your employees and the people you serve in your city or state are a network of opportunity. This network can be used to do more than just their predefined roles — they can solve major challenges if you design an experience that enables them to collectively act. You can read more about what I think this system will look like here and if you’re interested in diving deeper in swarm/emergent behavior, I would recommend reading Emergence by Steven Johnson.

📉 A down day on the markets? Analysts say blame the machines. http://wapo.st/2ENdSru

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: As we saw this week, the markets had a volatile week. There were many fingers being pointed, from political to the jobs report to this — the algorithms. It’s no surprise that in the rapid-fire world of electronic trading, algorithms are a trading firms strongest asset — but these algorithms are designed to respond to changing market conditions that can lead to a continuous cycle of correction if left unchecked. Investopedia mirrors these thoughts and compiled a good roundup of this issue following the week’s activities. For government agencies, this is a good reminder that as we increasingly automate functions of service delivery — there is still value in keeping a human in the loop.

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