Oslo Public Service Summit - 2011

I had the honor of representing the IACP Community Policing Committee and GILEE (and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georfia State University) at the Public Service Summit that was held in Oslo (December 9-11) in conjunction with the award of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. The Summit and the Concert were sponsored by Cisco which is also the sponsor of the IACP Community Policing Committee. Oslo in December with ice, snow, and temperatures ranging from 15-35 F0 was not a top priority. Frankly, neither was the Peace Prize (given some of its past recipients).  Yet this year, the combination of the Summit and the award winners - three amazing women - was attractive enough for me to attend. The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work." During a live broadcast and the Award Concert they have shown viewers and listeners their traits of leadership, perseverance, integrity, patience, and humanity.

The Public Service Summit’s official theme focused on “Empowering the Edge: Boosting Resiliency and Productivity in the Public Sector:” The Summit recognized the “changing character of societies and economic conditions, where public sector leaders are creating new paradigms for how government, healthcare and education responsibilities are being envisioned, designed and implemented.” An impressive array of speakers and about 300 participants from 42 different countries shared ideas for addressing modern challenges by providing better, more accountable, and more transparent public service.  Speakers included Bill Bratton who headed the Boston, New York and Los Angeles Police Departments; Dr. Muhamed ElBaradei, former head of the IAEA and himself a Nobel Laureate; Sam Pitroda, an entrepreneur who is currently Adviser to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations; Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission; Lindsay Tanner, former Australian Finance Minister; Jocelyne Bourgon, former Secretary to Cabinet for Canada; and Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico. The plenary sessions were well attended and rather inspiring as were the breakout sessions. Sessions dealt with the economic impact on public service; governing in a changing world; cyber-security; and how to improve public service.  It was interesting to note that the "Open Government" project in Vienna prided itself for developing an application to assist one in finding the nearest public toilet yet if you visit Vienna you will not have publically available information on crime incidents or the budget.

The Summit was extremely well organized, very well run, facilities were conducive and speakers were outstanding.  Three sub-themes were visibly identifiable through the entire Summit: the importance of partnerships, the value of technological innovation, and the need to be proactive.  Little surprise that these dimensions sounded more than familiar to me and they should to the members of the CP Committee as well as to any police department that has adopted community policing.  It became fairly obvious that a community-based approach has value not only to policing but to public service in any arena be it health, education, government services and for business development. A note worth taking: the entire Summit was paperless. Cisco has developed a special application that included summit information, the agenda, participants, speakers, evaluations, Oslo information, the Summit community and participants’ insights.  It made accessing information, sharing information and managing one’s time very productive and convenient. The entire conference site such as meeting halls and hotel rooms were wireless and thus conducive to networking via iPads, iPhones (and blackberries) and any other smart device.

I met several participants with whom I had an opportunity to exchange ideas and thoughts about public service. One of them was Bob Cook, President of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation who was interested in ranking cities on crime.  This led to an extensive discussion about the ranking of cities on homicide that I have done with my colleagues Drs. Rosenfeld and Blumstein and how to use crime data smartly when making business decisions such as investment, development, and relocation.  Bob also provided daily blogs - together with his colleague Ann Gates, associate vice president of research and sponsored projects at UTEP - to the El Paso Times.

The Summit concluded with the Nobel Peace Prize Concert that literally rocked the house. MC’d by Helen Mirren and Rosario Dawson, it featured - among others - Janelle Monáe, David Gray, Sugarland, Ellie Goulding, and Jill Scott.  I must confess that other than Mirren none of them were household names (in my household that is). Yet, the show was superb and literally no one was able to remain seated without being influenced by the music.

The Summit was inspiring in that it was a proper mix of theory, practice, policy and reports on best practices and identifying future trends.  It was worth traveling to Oslo in December and even getting stuck for an extra day due to flight delays caused by icy conditions.

I am looking forward to share more details with the CP Committee when we meet in March.

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Blog Comments

Todd A. Robbie: Great post! Thanks for sharing and for representing the Committee in Oslo. I wish I could have been there, maybe next year. It is interesting how the principles of community policing are so transportable to any situation. I look forward to hearing more at the IACP Community Policing Mid-Year in March.
December 15th at 11:01PM ET