Alexa enters the enterprise, a house was 3D-printed in less than 24 hours and my takeaways from SXSW — This Week’s Top 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 into this week’s reads —

The Articles —

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

💼 Amazon’s Alexa is coming to the office http://bit.ly/2FMi9OQ

🏡 You can now 3D-print a house in under a day http://bit.ly/2FvNYfA

😲 The Big Changes Ahead for Boomer Workers http://bit.ly/2pjVSi1 (H/T Daniel Charboneau)

👏 Your next computer could improve with age http://bit.ly/2tCjuTC

⚠️ State-Sponsored Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors http://bit.ly/2GwQrU3

⚖️ Robots are shifting income from workers to owners http://bit.ly/2tSsOmu

💡 Can Apprenticeships Train the Workforce of the Future? States Hope So. http://bit.ly/2FB3SB2

I was at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas this week with ourGoverning team and have included three of my articles from the conference in this week’s rundown -

🏢 SXSW 2018: Meet the 6 Gov Tech Startup Finalists That Pitched Mayors at SXSW http://bit.ly/2HDpayQ

🚙 SXSW 2018: Why emulating a self-driving car might be the best way to plan for them http://bit.ly/2Gm2MdO

🔮 SXSW 2018 — The Year of the Mayor as a Futurist? http://bit.ly/2FMAYRZ

👉 You can check out Governing’s full coverage of SXSW at http://www.governing.com/sxsw and hear our perspectives on the Go Public Podcast.

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 Alexa is coming to the office http://bit.ly/2FMi9OQ

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Get ready because Amazon is bringing their popular consumer voice assistant into the enterprise. 39 million Americans already own a smart speaker, so an enterprise expansion is not too surprising at this point. Some government agencies have already been using voice assistants for constituent access, but there is even more opportunity for to use voice assistants to augment existing employees and unlock vast troves of data.

  1. Existing employee augmentation— Existing employees can query Alexa for questions that would normally require talking to someone else or searching through records. (i.e., When did we pass the parking ordinance? What day did John Doe open his water account? etc. )
  2. Unlock data — Government agencies at all levels have unlocked massive amounts of open data, traditional through dedicated open data portals, but the use of a voice assistant can make this data easier to navigate and consume for government employees and constituents.

A few things to remember, the enterprise data silos and lack of data standards will cause the government data queried and interfaced with via voice to be limited at the beginning — and privacy concerns will continue to pose a challenge with devices that ‘always listen.’

🏡 You can now 3D-print a house in under a day http://bit.ly/2FvNYfA

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: South by Southwest is an annual conference, more like an experience, where radical ideas are giving a spotlight. One of the radical ideas this year was to test the possibility of 3D-printing a house in less than a day by the company New Story. 24-hours, $4,000 and 800 square-feet later, the concrete 3D-printed house was completed — windows (which were added by humans), doors and all. The goal of New Story is to “to create a world where no human being lives in survival mode.” For government agencies, homelessness is a major problem that many ideas are currently being tested to address, and this technology might just provide a vehicle with the capacity and scale to address it globally.

 

😲 The Big Changes Ahead for Boomer Workers http://bit.ly/2pjVSi1 (H/T Daniel Charboneau)

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: In one of the most intriguing reads of the week, this article helped provide a look at how older workers are going to play an increasingly important part of the workforce even as they get near a traditional retirement age. Based on recent research from Bain & Company, the author explains that with a “winding down” supply of workers, more employers are going to look to hang on to older employees longer. Add to that, disruptive technologies giving rise to task-based or freelance worker — and there is a perfect storm of opportunity for older workers to also leverage flexible work arrangements that have made companies like Uber and Lyft so powerful. For government agencies, there will be major changes in public sector workforce — from available employees to required skills — which will require new models to keep up. This just might be a good starting point.

👏 Your next computer could improve with age http://bit.ly/2tCjuTC

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: It may be time to stop worrying about your devices being slowed down by the manufacturers because the rise of artificial intelligence is given our existing hardware new capabilities and efficiency gains. We’ve actually already seen elements of this happening todaystarting with our vehicles. When the Tesla Model S was rolled out it could not drive you to work by itself, but through an over-the-air software update (dubbed Autopilot) it suddenly gained the functionality to. And years later, the use of machine learning has made the autopilot system smarter and more efficient, without the need for physically replacing your Tesla each year. Software has the ability to give our hardware new capabilities — without having to physically replace or upgrade it — and this era of innovation is just beginning. For government agencies, these changes make it harder to adapt our regulations (because change is exponential), but as users of the same technology — we can also extract benefits from new software giving our deployed technology new life.

⚠️ State-Sponsored Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors http://bit.ly/2GwQrU3

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: State-sponsored attacks on mission-critical infrastructure in the United States has been a known occurrence for years, but in a first, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued an official joint FBI/DHS Technical Alert (TA) notifying operators of critical infrastructure facilities of a Russian multi-stage campaign targeting their facilities. For government agencies, this campaign was not just targeting large federal facilities — it also involved targeting smaller water, aviation, energy and commercial facilities as well. The apparent aim of the attacks involved “network reconnaissance and…information pertaining to Industrial Control Systems (ICS).” The technical alert provides a full breakdown of how the attacks have been constructed as well as tactics that can be used to mitigate.

⚖️ Robots are shifting income from workers to owners http://bit.ly/2tSsOmu

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: As automation continues to impact the workplace, there have been constant debates about the who ultimately benefits from the increase in productivity. This particular study was an interesting look at one viewpoint that “automation is redistributing income from workers to owners.” For state and local government agencies, if the author’s perspective continues to show true, this will significantly alter your communities and the way you’ll need to approach economic development.

I think one example to illustrate this potential can be seen with taxi cabs. In the past, to drive a cab you would traditionally ‘lease’ a car from a taxi cab company (with the licensed ability to operate within a market) and you monetized the asset from the owner and made your income from the difference. Then came along Uber and Lyft, letting almost anyone take their own vehicle asset and monetize it — which is where we are today. But what about self-driving cars? Many ride-sharing companies are currently ramping up their capabilities and fleets to go the self-driving route in the next few years. When self-driving cars replace traditional ride-share drivers, the model looks more like where it started but with an even widen gap — because an owner that has the means and control of self-driving assets won’t need a human in order to monetize it.

If you don’t have time to read the full paper, you can watch a 5-minute recap video prepared by the authors.

💡 Can Apprenticeships Train the Workforce of the Future? States Hope So. http://bit.ly/2FB3SB2

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was a fascinating read from my colleague at GoverningJ.B. Wogan, on the potential for apprenticeships to train the workforce of the future. J.B. rightly makes the case that the mismatch between available jobs and those that are unemployed comes down to a skills mismatch. Current strategies to address this mismatch haven’t been effective, but some agencies are starting to use apprenticeships as a new, more sustainable method to bridge the divide. J.B. is also right in that in order to solve this problem, we’re going to have to shift our mindset completely, “The apprenticeship model calls for a paradigm shift. For decades, public workforce agencies have trained residents, hoping that private-sector employers will then hire them. With apprenticeships, the employers come to government, identify the shortages they have and the skills they need; government then works with schools or training facilities to meet those demands. States can offer job training vouchers to subsidize wages and cover some training expenses, but once companies believe in the value of the model, they often have the ability to cover those costs…The relationship between government workforce agencies and companies is “an active collaboration as opposed to a warm handoff.” For government agencies, we’re going to need to continue to explore and test models like apprenticeships to incubate talent for the workforce of tomorrow.

For those interested in nurturing their existing workforce, ITIF released a report on How to Reform Worker-Training and Adjustment Policies for an Era of Technology Change.

🏢 SXSW 2018: Meet the 6 Gov Tech Startup Finalists That Pitched Mayors at SXSW http://bit.ly/2HDpayQ

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Startups play an important part of the growing government technology ecosystem, and this year six gov tech startups (Three of which were GovTech 100 companies for 2018) were able to pitch the mayors assembled at SXSW on their respective technologies for a chance to win funding and exposure. The winning startup, Biobot Analytics, analyzes raw sewerage to identify and track opioid usage for cities so that they can tailor their strategies to the actual opioid usage in their communities.

Read the full article on Medium