MaaS – Municipality-as-a-Service

As I have been learning about the government sector, for purposes of developing new Cloud solutions for this market, I realized that actually the most interesting dimension to it is not the technology, but rather the potential it offers for economic development.

Certainly of course the technology is great and offers real benefits like reducing costs and empowering staff with new applications more easily, and while it is quite a staggering level of change within a context of the IT market, it’s still overshadowed by the implications for modern economic theory.

At a time of economy crunch when politicians appear lost for what to do about it, this seems especially important.

There’s a few examples to illustrate the key points are involved:

  • Improving Innovation Lifecycle Management - In their white paper ‘Next Generation Cluster‘ Cisco describe how new technologies like Cloud computing can be used to modernize the processes of innovation itself. Equipping entrepreneurs with better tools to collaborate on ideas and advance them through business planning will accelerate the number of new ventures launched.
  • Open Innovation - Smart governments are realizing some of their most valuable assets already exist, they simply need to be made available to entrepreneurs to exploit. For example New York City recently adopted a Cloud-based Open Data initiative, and developers that used this data started ventures that attracted $6m in new Venture Capital.

Similarly the expertise that is built into government operating systems, like all the applications that run a Municipality is also valuable intellectual property. A variety of technologies and models are used, like Microsoft, OpenText and Oracle, deployed internally or outsourced, but really these are just common software components.

The real value lies in the ‘business logic’ that is applied to tailor it for the operations of the city. How to process permits, how to handle citizen enquiries, and so on.

What New York demonstrates is that these models can be continually innovated, improved upon to realize additional benefits for the city, most notably attracting new investment. Therefore there is a market for continually building new ones and thus creating assets of value to others.

Packaging this logic and offering it to other cities can therefore be called ‘MaaS’ – Municipality-as-a-Service, and would include these exciting new Open Data capabilities to help achieve the same benefits.

This new economic development model is one of the key activities of our newly formed ‘Canadian Cloud Best Practices Council‘, and will be covered on our upcoming webinar.

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