Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Visual Internet Traffic to Quadruple in Four Years

Here is a projection about internet use that will amplify the caffination in your coffee this morning.

The projection comes from Cisco, and while it is in their interest to offer these projections to sell more hardware, recent projections over the years from Cisco have actually been low.  Remember that, and ponder this:

Graphic
Akamai Real Time Web Monitor
Cisco projects a massive increase in IP traffic worldwide from 369 Exabytes in 2011, to approximately 1.3 zettabytes in 2016.  The growth is primarily due to an increasing number of connected devices, increased broadband connectivity, and increasing use of video world wide.

As they explain, the amount of transported data in 2016 will be more than all the IP traffic between 1984 and 2012 combined. The number of connected devices (from iPhones to network savvy refrigerators and everything in between), is expected to expand from some 10 billion last year, to almost 19 billion four years from now.  That is 2.5 connections for every individual soul on the planet.  And the content of the traffic? By 2016 it is expected to be more than 85% video.  (Thanks to Cisco and TechCrunch for the numbers.)

Apply this to your community; think about how to use these levels of connectivity to increase coordinated service in the social service, disaster relief, education, and workforce sectors.  Plan now, for where we are going--together.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.











Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

As has become our custom, we are sharing another in a series of outstanding essays by Stan Stahl, on this Memorial Day, 2012.  He has an insightful ability to remind us that we are in fact in this nation an "us." These are good times to remind ourselves of that. Of course, this resonates with us at VisionLink, as we are in the business of building technology that integrates all aspects of successful communities from opportunities for youth, to workforce development, the web of social services, and the making of resilient communities ready for disasters.

With thanks to Stan, enjoy--and reflect.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.


Memorial Day, 2012
Stan Stahl, Ph.D.

... that these dead shall not have died in vain.
Abraham Lincoln

As a young boy in Oil City, Pennsylvania, I marched in our annual Memorial Day parade with my Cub Scout troop. It was a different time in America, a different place. The Second World War had ended, we had defeated the Nazis, saving the free world in the process. But then the Cold War started, putting freedom again at risk, this time under a thermonuclear cloud.

It was here that I was taught the meaning of America, early in the Cold War in this small town in the Alleghany Mountains. It was here I was taught that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was here that I learned that we the people brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. It was here that I learned that freedom carried with it responsibility, the responsibility to do my best to live up to these ideals.

These were the principles that made us different from the Soviet Union. These were the principles for which men and women gave their last full measure of devotion. These were the principles for which we honored our fallen heroes on Memorial Day.

This was a time in America that -as seen through the eyes of an idealistic boy - America seemed to be one people: E Pluribus Unum, from many, one. With a clear and present enemy on the outside, it was easy to fail to see the fissures on America's inside. It was still the 1950s. The 1960s were not yet in sight.

By end of the 1960s America had changed dramatically. The fissures were plainly visible. During Memorial Days in the 1960s while some of us mourned the deaths of our soldiers - 50,000 of whom would die in a war that was tearing apart America's soul - others mourned the deaths of Medgar Evers and Malcom X, of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, of Bobby and Martin. On Memorial Day, 1970 while some mourned the fallen warrior, others grieved for the students at Kent State, murdered by National Guardsman, our own countrymen, as they were protesting the war in Vietnam.

That was 1970. It is now 2012, more than forty years later. The fissures appear wider than ever, the anger and hostility greater than any time since perhaps those first Memorial Days during and after the Civil War, a time when brother fought against brother, when America resolved that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The challenge is to disagree without being disagreeable
Rick Warren, Pastor
Saddleback Church

Who were these men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion so we could be free? Who were their families? Where were they from? What did they believe?

The Memorial Day images we typically experience are of families at a graveside-mothers & fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters-or of an official ceremony led by a political or military dignitary. They are images of connection, how the dead are like us.

But not all the dead are like us. Some are very different from us. To these, we are also connected. This Memorial Day, at a time when Americans seem deeply disconnected from each other, this Memorial Day, let's reflect on the connections we have with those who are not like us.

With more than 1,200,000 dead in America's wars, I am certain that at least one of those who died for me is everything I am not.

Somebody who believes as deeply as I do about gay marriage - but from a different moral perspective - died so that I might be free to respectfully disagree with him, with his family, with his church and with his community.

Tens of thousands of evangelical Christians have given their last full measure of devotion so I could live in a country where I am free to be a secular Jew, just as many many atheists gave their last full measure of devotion so that millions of evangelical Christians could be free to worship in accordance with their beliefs.

Among the soldiers we remember on Memorial Day are men who believed in their moral right to own slaves. Many of the founders owned slaves, yet is was their sacrifice that brought the light of freedom to a dark world. Slave owners died so that I might be free to give meaning to all men are created equal in ways that they could never have comprehended.

Men and Women... Republicans ... Democrats ... Right-Wing Conservatives ... Left-Wing Liberals ... Socialists ... Communists ... Capitalists ... Europeans ... Asians ... Native Americans ... Hispanics ... Africans ... Whites ... Blacks ... Yellows ... Reds ... Christians ... Jews ... Buddhists ... Moslems ... Catholics ... Born-Agains and Atheists ... Straights ... Gays ... Lesbians ... Transgenders.

All have died so all could be free.

When we reflect on those men and women completely different from us who gave their last full measure of devotion so that you and I might be free, we find men and women with different politics, different colors, different ethnicities, different religions, different values.


The American tapestry is woven deep. We are connected with each other through our years of common struggle to make more real America's promise of freedom and liberty, each in our own way, each according to our own values ... but together, E Pluribus Unum.

Even as we the people find ourselves on different cultural sides of a battle that has its origins in the country's founding, we share something profoundly deep: each and every one of us is free because an American with totally different attitudes, beliefs and values died to keep us free.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. 
Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
Abraham Lincoln

Do we not owe a debt to the families, the loved ones, the communities of those who died so that we might live free? Is it not their sons and daughters and husbands and wives and mothers and fathers and neighbors who lie in their soldier graves alongside our own? Do they not have the same inalienable right to live free-to pursue their own happiness- as we do? Aren't they too part of the we in we the people?

Do we not, therefore, have a solemn duty to treat those with whom we most seriously disagree with the same respect as we would want them to treat us? Isn't this the least we must do if we are to honor the memory of those like them who sacrificed so we could live free? And won't this take us again - as it has throughout our history - to the very wellspring of what is exceptional in America, to the proposition that we are all created equal.

... that these dead shall not have died in vain.
Abraham Lincoln

Let Freedom Ring.


© Copyright 2012. Stan Stahl, Ph.D.. All Rights Reserved. Permission is given to reproduce and distribute this essay in its entirety.  Read more from Stan.

Monday, May 21, 2012

AIRS Conference: NextGen 2.11

With a reception tonight, we roll out an important discussion with our 2-1-1 colleagues, "NextGen2.11," the intentional work to move 2-1-1 operations into the center of community-wide information and referral (not only for those in need or crisis - but for all looking for community-based services), and to bring to the 2-1-1 community a series of revenue generating, and operations-sustaining opportunities.

The first such opportunity builds on the massive scale and scope of healthcare, and the numbers of consumers in that marketplace.

VisionLink is fortunate to have been selected by WorldDoc and Jamajic as the 2-1-1 platform most able to address the healthcare opportunities that are at the heart of their work.  Jamajic (a new definition of what WorldDoc had already started), is focused on community health, balanced living, crisis relief, and more -- the entire spectrum of healthy communities, and they are building a powerful platform and an app environment to engage consumers in that market.

For those 2-1-1s willing to take on the future, opportunities to discuss and explore this opportunity begin tonight.  Find our staff at the VisionLink booth in the exhibitors hall to learn more, and to learn the time and place of the reception this evening.  We might say it another way, too -- the future is not a choice, to engage or not, is.

Ever onwards!
Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

AIRS Conference: VisionLink Users Group Reception

The 2012 AIRS Conference kicks off today, and all VisionLink customers are invited to join several VisionLink staffers (including yours truly), this evening from 6:00 to 7:30 pm.  Click here for more information.  You can find us in the Gallier A/B Suite on the 4th floor.

For those of you not familiar, AIRS (the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems), has as its mission to provide leadership and support to its members and Affiliates to advance the capacity of a Standards-driven Information and Referral industry that brings people and services together.

AIRS members convene annually, and it is one of VisionLink's most important conferences, as it offers the opportunity to gather and meet with our 2-1-1 and I&R customers, and to meet new and prospective customers as well.

Stay tuned to more information about NextGen2.11.  You'll want to learn about this for sure!

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.





Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On-Site Visit: United Way of Denver 2-1-1

With special thanks to our host Fermin Avila at the United Way of Denver, we enjoyed a wonderful on-site visit with the staff of the United Way 2-1-1 Call Center today.

While we have done this before, this was the first time we have visited their call center as an entire staff. It is so useful to listen to and talk with the 2-1-1 staff about their use of the VisionLink CommunityOS platform in this real-time environment.

We released some new features recently, and are currently working on some new searching enhancements, so being able to have the 2-1-1 call specialists talk with our developers, help desk staff, Q&A testing staff and others, helps to instill in everyone a better understanding of what works well and what does not, and for whom.  

It is clear from the calls coming into the center that this is important and often stressful work. We greatly respect the call specialists' ability to guide callers to appropriate resources while responding to the very human needs of people caught in a particularly tough crisis or situation. We also gained a better appreciation for how a few tweaks would help the visually impaired staff members (who use two of the assistive software packages supported by CommunityOS) work more efficiently. We have great details with which we will follow up.

Thank you Denver United Way and Colorado 2-1-1! As we say, but today you really brought it home: it is an honor to support the work you do.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.




Monday, May 14, 2012

Have You Hired Your Interns Yet?

I would like to challenge our customers and our suppliers to make this the summer to get serious about hiring interns.  Three benefits come to mind:

First, you can increase your productivity at low cost. Our high schools, colleges, and graduate schools continue to prepare young people who are in fact dedicated, focused, and capable. And yes, while the overall state of our educational system needs serious repair, there are many young people who can offer the ability to get good work done. The key is to be thoughtful about your sources; go to the appropriate college department or to certain key professors who specialize in the fields in which you need an intern. It helps them be able to place their best students on a career path, and it helps you as you can articulate the kind of person you are looking for. Note that this challenge is to hire an intern. Sure, in this job market you can get good talent for free, but that is taking advantage of the economics. Talented interns are worth a decent wage and the compensation signals to both you and the young person to take their role seriously and to ensure that the young person is doing useful work.

Second, you can audition future employees. We are enjoying these benefits already. One of our previous interns starts this June after graduation as a full-time employee. We have both tried each other out during her previous summer, and we know the fit is good and true. If you have checked the research on the cost of unsuccessful hires, you know it costs a great deal to hire the wrong person (both for your organization and for that person as well.) Even if you view your summer interns as only an opportunity to screen for future hires, you can afford to hire many, many interns for the cost of one full-time employee that does not work out.

Third, you are doing your part to build a successful workforce. You know that technology has eliminated many entry-level jobs. Think of the bank tellers, entry level insurance agents; heck--even our local movie theater just replaced a few dozen entry-level jobs with a new concession delivery system which has automated nearly every position. The fact is that first jobs are a critical part of a young person's growth and development. In fact, for many, those first part-time jobs help make the case for school and more education, not to mention being the means by which they learn the non-academic skills that make for a good employee. In this economy, however, vast numbers of entry-level, part-time opportunities have simply vanished. Do your part to create opportunities to launch a career path and everyone wins.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.








Thursday, May 10, 2012

PQMD: Medical Surplus Recovery Organization Planning

Photo of Carter Center BannerLori Warrens, the executive director of the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD), VisionLink's Lois Ann Porter and others are on-site today planning the upcoming Medical Surplus Recovery Organization (MSRO) Conference to be held at the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta this July.

MSROs from across the country will join PQMD, the U.S. Department of Defense, the World Health Organization, the Catholic Health Association, MedShare and Project HOPE to evaluate recently-released standards for MSROs regarding the collection and distribution of medical surplus to those most in need around the world.

Courtney Baird, Lori Warrens,
Shelly Miller
Shipment bound for Haiti
This is a tremendously forward looking effort as organizations which in some ways compete with one another are coming together to work together.  It's the way good works get done well.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

50 State VOAD Community

Pleased to report that Ray, Rene, Joanne, and I are attending the annual conference of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) here in Norfolk, Virginia.

This is the 20th annual conference, and befitting the theme, Mountains to Sea, VisionLink is proud to release its 50 State VOAD Community project.  As a national NVOAD partner, VisionLink is contributing a web site for every state VOAD, as well as the enterprise system behind the scenes to integrate and unify every one of these state sites into a cohesive national system.  Even better: every one of these state sites is already built and is ready for state-specific training and customization.


Deploying initial sites with branding, public and private information, and key contact information, the next wave will see situational maps, resource and assets directories and more.  Help Desk services are being provided by the national VOAD office, as the VisionLink team provides the portal templates, training, system and server resources, bandwidth and more.

If you are the state lead and you have not registered yet for your state's training, do so here.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Red Cross Shelter View: Update Available

We have released an update for the Red Cross Shelter View iPhone App. 

(Blog Entry Update: Four days in and release 1.1 has already been downloaded by more than 10,000 users.)

This very well received app is available in the iTunes store at no charge.  It provides real-time information about open shelters, their location (with maps) and information about current capacity. Version 1.1 simply changed the edit date to reflect the last time and date the bed count was updated, rather than the last time the overall shelter facility or status information was updated. With this change, users can know not only how much room a specific shelter has, but the most recent time and data that bed count was updated

You can download your own at the App Store, or you can go the Red Cross shelter page (expect the web map view is blank until you enter some location information.)  The App has been downloaded many tens of thousands of times, and is used thousands of times a day by professionals and citizens alike.

As we like to say, this is the one App you hope to never need to use; and the one App you will most wish you had on your iPhone when you do.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

United Way Community Leaders Conference

The UW Community Leaders Conference is under way right now in Nashville, TN.

Participants include leaders from the private sector, elected officials, other non-profit organizations, and of course local United Ways across America. The focus? On how organizations can work together to make change happen in communities through strengthening education, income and health.  An appropriate focus, yes? What we learn, earn, and how well we live are so completely intertwined.

A number of workshops and classes are being offered on topics such as "Talent and Leadership for Leading Community Change," and "Investing in Collaboratives to Achieve Greater Community Results".

This year is also the 125th anniversary of United Way, which began in Denver, Colorado, in 1887, right in our back yard.

VisionLink's own Joanne Wagner is exhibiting at Booth #1. If you are at the conference, be sure to visit Joanne and learn how VisionLink's Community Operating System (CommunityOS) is the ideal platform for collaboratively strong community building. 

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink