Fluff Stuff: Better Governments, Better Processes, Simplr Insites

Cities are heading towards bankruptcy. The credit rating of Stockton, CA was downgraded. Harrisburg, PA is actually bankrupt.  It is only a matter of time before Chicago implodes. Since 1995, city debt rose by between $1.3 and $1.8 trillion. While a large chunk of this cost is from waste, more is the result of using intuition over data when tackling infrastructure and new projects. Think of your city government as the boss who likes football more than his job so he builds a football stadium despite your company being in the submarine industry.

This is not an unsolvable nightmare.

Take an effective use case where technologies and government processes were outsourced. As costs rose in Sandy Sprints, GA, the city outsourced and achieved more streamlined processes, better technology, and lower costs. Today, without raising taxes, the city is in the green. While Sandy Springs residents are wealth, even poorer cities can learn from this experience.

Cities run projects in an extremely scientific manner and require an immense amount of clean, quality, well-managed data isolated into individual projects to run appropriately. With an average of $8000 spent per employee on technology each year and with an immense effort spent in acquiring analysts and modernizing infrastructure, cities are struggling to modernize.

It is my opinion, one I am basing a company on, that the provision of quality data management, sharing and collaboration tools, IT infrastructure, and powerful project and statistical management systems in a single SAAS tool can greatly reduce the $8000 per employee cost and improve budgets. These systems can even reduce the amount of administrative staff, allowing money to flow to where it is needed most.

How can a collaborative tool tackle the cost problem. Through:

  • collaborative knowledge sharing of working, ongoing, and even failed solutions
  • public facing project blogs and information on organizations, projects, statistical models, results, and solutions that allow even non-mathematical members of an organization to learn about a project
  • a security minded institutional resource manager (IRM better thought of as a large, securable, shared file storage system) capable of expanding into the petabytes while maintaining FERPA, HIPPA, and state and local regulations
  • the possibility to share data externally, keep it internal, or keep the information completely private while obfuscating names and other protected information
  • complexity analysis (graph based analysis) systems for people, projects, and organizations clustered for comparison
  • strong comparison tools
  • potent and learned aggregation systems with validity in mind ranging from streamed data from sensors and the internet to surveys to uploads
  • powerful drag and drop integration and ETL with mostly automated standardization
  • deep diving upload, data set, project, and model exploration using natural language searching
  • integration with everything from a phone to a tablet to a powerful desktop
  • access controls for sharing the bare minimum amount of information
  • outsourced IT infrastructure including infrastructure for large model building
  • validation using proven algorithms and increased awareness of what that actually means
  • anomaly detection
  • organization of models, data sets, people, and statistical elements into a single space for learning
  • connectors to popular visualizers such as Tableau and Vantara with a customize-able dashboard for general reporting
  • downloadable sets with two entity verification if required that can be streamed or used in Python and R

Tools such as ours significantly reduce the cost of IT by as much as 65%. We eliminate much of the waste in the data science pipeline while trying to be as simple as possible.

We should consider empowering and streamlining the companies, non-profits, and government entities such as schools and planning departments that perform vital services before our own lives are greatly effected. Debt and credit are not solutions to complex problems.

Take a look, or don’t. This is a fluff piece on something I am passionately building. Contact us if you are interested in a beta test.

Opinion: Does the End of Net Neutrality Signal the Start of Public Internet

Companies are already selling overpriced Internet services with terrible performance and awful customer satisfaction ratings. The end of net neutrality as the rule of the land may exacerbate the problems that plague companies like Comcast. A lack of stable systems, a quilt of poorly deployed technologies, and the hell on earth it is to deal with the company’s technical nightmare (think MySQL database being used for all equipment monitoring) can be easily glossed over by simply forcing certain customers to pay more.

The end of net neutrality could become the equivalent of ObamaCare in the Trump era. It is a chance for another industry to gauge the private sector and the individual under the guise of open markets. The idea of an entirely open market itself was brushed aside by Adam Smith by the way.

In the midst of this nightmare, Longmont is providing a model for public broadband service at low prices. Despite the FCC ruling, the city’s NextLight broadband utility promises no tiered payment plans. Businesses, organizations, and even your local school will rejoice in this type of service. That is, of course, if you are lucky enough to live in Longmont.

NextLight is the type of service that provides impact and reduces the pressure Adam Smith referred to when disavowing companies such as the East India Company, claiming they could never really be a private venture. That is something that should be noticed in today’s world where services are increasingly produced by fewer and fewer companies whose increasing size makes Karl Marx look like a prophet.

Is this experiment profitable? The customer gets 1 gigabyte of download speeds for $45 per month. How, when a similar service costs over $100 per month from a competitor is this profitable? How can a $40.3 million dollar project ever pay off for poorer communities? How can the service be of quality? How can cities without the infrastructure Longmont had afford such a project?

The current project is funding at only 17 percent over the estimated cost. While small municipalities like Longmont do not post cost estimates, there is also the fact that in three to four years of operation, there have been no cost increases and no extra funding granted by taxation. The cost overrun is also relatively small for a public works project. In the same period, I personally have seen my internet services for 10mbs download speeds that rarely deliver their promised performance from Comcast go from $80 to $116 per month. Comcast does not even have the add-on features that $45 per month NextLight serves. Even Century Link offers incredibly slower services for $10 more dollars per month. Only Charter compares.

When it comes to poor communities, voting is more powerful at a local level. However, dealing with the misfortunes of rural and poor communities is an enormous problem in this country. Still, another source for funding may be technology companies themselves. Google and Facebook have already shown interest in divorcing the middle man from the process of getting their services to the consumer. Instead of balloons and airplanes, why not invest in public projects prior to the development of space delivered quantum communications.

It is also important to remember that, like many commonplace public projects, the middle class, Longmont at the beginning of NextLight, and rich, Longmont now due to the Californication of the Colorado Front Range, are often the jumping off point for all communities. Construction costs come down with demand, neighboring communities benefit, and knowledge is shared regarding operations.

As for the quality end. Longmont’s NextLight just beat out Google Fiber. The city is ranked third for customer service and Internet service. While a terrible argument, if you dislike your provider, you the taxpayer could literally fire them by voting.

Of more interesting note, municipalities are more likely to spur innovation as well in the search for better service at less cost. Denver based LayerTV just partnered with NextLight. Apparently, public Internet can actually increase competition.

So, will the end of net neutrality spur a public movement to reopen the Internet as an endless frontier of experimentation and cost savings compared to unregulated Internet? The future will tell.

Do you know the best part about NextLight? No unscheduled maintenance. It almost seems like Comcast violates other FCC rules regarding throttling and content provision already.