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on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am
WorkWave cut the ribbon on its new headquarters at Bell Works in Holmdel on May 17, and marked the occasion with speeches by public officials and others who helped make the day possible.
When WorkWave signed on to move to Bell Works, the announcement was hailed by the New Jersey tech community as a sign that this revitalized Bell Labs building could become a suburban tech hub.
Since then, several tech and telecom companies have committed to leases for space in the building, including iCIMS, which will bring more than 550 employees to Bell Works and is growing quickly.
WorkWave moved 180 employees to Bell Works and plans to hire 250 additional workers over the next three to five years.
Chris Sullens, president and CEO of WorkWave, recalled his first impressions of Bell Works. “It was a long way from reality. It was just pictures on a wall and “it felt far too far in the future.” The company evaluated options like taking more space in its current building or moving to a building in Fort Monmouth.
“Over time, we circled back to Bell Works.” The company needed 70,000 square feet in an open floor plan “because that’s the way we work, collaboratively,” and there were very few buildings that fit that bill.
“The vision that Ralph [Zucker] laid out resonated with us.” The location was great, he added, only 10 miles from the company’s previous headquarters. The deal with Bell Works gives the company access to 70,000 square feet of additional space if needed in the future.
There still was another issue, he noted. Retail stores didn’t want to come in until most of Bell Works was filled. A hotel wanted to come in, but not until there were more tenants. “Someone had to go first and we took the leap. We looked at the future. Our goal was to set ourselves up for the next eight to 10 years. There are now four anchor tenants, and a lot of the building is full. Retail is starting to come in.”
Speaking to the assembled group, Zucker, who is president of Somerset Development (Holmdel) and the visionary behind the redevelopment of the historic building, said, “When we first set out to transform Bell Labs into Bell Works, it was challenging in many ways, beyond comprehension actually. The most challenging aspect was not figuring out what we could do, it was convincing other people, bringing other people into our vision.” That vision was to develop a “metroburb, a metropolis in suburbia with a dynamic urban vibe in a great suburban location.”
He said that it took guts for Sullens to invest in the Bell Works vision, especially when the building was huge, vacant and abandoned.
“WorkWave was exploring several options, and they probably would have been easier and less expensive. But Chris didn’t take the easy way out. He chose Bell Works and the ecosystem of creation and innovation. They wanted more than just four walls and an office. They wanted to be part of a vibrant and growing ecosystem that provides a daily dose of culture, entertainment, collaboration and so much more.”
Timothy J. Lizura, president and CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), talked about the role of the EDA in transforming Bell Labs, under the state’s “Grow NJ” incentive program. WorkWave received a $15.7 million incentive from the program to relocate its headquarters in Bell Works and grow jobs there.
“We’ve approved three companies for Bell Works, iCIMS, WorkWave and MetTel, with over 1,500 jobs” so that they can “seed the foundation for what will be a technology hub here in Monmouth County again. I think that’s a terrific start,” he said.
Addressing the group, Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. (R) supported the Grow NJ program, saying, “It’s easy to criticize the EDA, that we are giving away the store, that it’s corporate welfare. This is what it amounts to. None of these companies would be here today without this great Grow New Jersey incentive program. This is testimony to the essential nature of this program. It’s essential [to provide incentives] when you live in a high-tax, big-regulation, high-land-cost, high-insurance-cost place” like New Jersey. “We have to find a way to compensate [companies] and make a deal.”
The mayor of Holmdel, Gregory Buontempo, received thanks from Sullens for helping to make the final details of the move easier for WorkWave, ensuring that inspections and approvals were done in a timely way.
“WorkWave didn’t have to come to Holmdel. It chose to come here,” said Buontempo, who praised Holmdel as a great town. He also lauded the rebirth of technology innovation in the state. “New Jersey technology actually changed the world. I call what is happening here a renaissance. … I think we are in the next stage of great companies coming in here and continuing” the legacy of developing technologies “that will change the way we work, live and play.&rdquo […]
on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am
At the Einstein's Alley “Future of Work” symposium on April 25, the speakers attempted to predict the future, though they admitted that they weren’t very good at it. What experts do know, they agreed, is that robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will disrupt jobs — and very soon.
Katherine Kish, Einstein's Alley executive director, introduced the event, saying that it would focus on asking the question, "How does innovation such as robotics and artificial intelligence, education, immigration and government policy all work together" to create the future of work.
Kish recommended a January 2017 McKinsey Global Institute Study that looked at how the jobs created by the world economy would be affected by AI, automation and cognitive machines. “The world will certainly be different, and perhaps a little scary, but very exciting,” she told the group.
Speaker James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Rutgers University, gave the audience a history of technology and described how technology has affected the nature of employment through the years.
Referring to the present, Hughes said that AI is just in its infancy, resembling the Internet in the mid-1990s. "If that's the prototype, it will soon be built into everything. AI will be everywhere, just as the Internet is everywhere today."
Most people think of robots as disrupting the blue-collar workforce, he said. However, he asked, "will AI have as much of an impact on the white-collar workforce as robots have on the blue-collar workforce in factories?" He added that he didn't think robots would be taking over, or that human thinking and creativity would be supplanted by AI.
He did predict that AI would continue to make structural changes in the workplace. "What does this mean to the knowledge-based office of the future? AI has the potential to automate and “augmentize” knowledge-based tasks previously done by humans."
Hughes said that society would certainly see more transformative innovations that “we can't anticipate today,” and that they would be economic game changers, transforming the future workplace. “The world we think may be coming might not be the world that arrives because of potential innovations and disruptions by things not yet invented,” he added.
The keynote speaker, David A. Mindell, cofounder and CEO of Humatics (Cambridge, Mass.), had a different outlook on the topic. He spoke about something he called ‘ situated autonomy’, arguing that humans are always involved in robotic activity, including the activity of so-called autonomous vehicles.
Discussing the moon rover, he said, “Today we might call it a semi-autonomous robot.” It had the capability to land by itself with no human intervention. Yet the vehicle's guidance computer was built by folks at MIT, and it required a user interface. "What ended up being developed was the first virtual fly-by-wire system, a technology that is in every airliner and has a rich complicated human interface."
Mindell noted that the Air Force had to abandon the description "unmanned" for the Predator drone because it takes hundreds of people distributed all over the world to operate it.
"So, the way these robotic systems end up coming into use and becoming useful is different than we expected. And when robotic systems become successful it is often because ... they become situated into human organizations, often in interesting and surprising ways.”
For people and robots to interact, robots will have to be able to see each other with a great deal of precision and locate each other so they can work collaboratively alongside each other, said Mindell. There is a whole software infrastructure being built around this, and Humatics is working in this area of micro-location.
In his talk about the future of work, Donald H. Sebastian, president and CEO of NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute (Newark), took a look at the major disruptors of work in the past. "A look at the kind of change that rolled through in the 1880s through 1910 or 1920" can help you understand what the disruptions from AI and robots will be, he said. "Because we've lived through this and adapted to it, there should be some sense of calm, yet it's still our lives that are affected."
In his address, Carl Van Horn, founding director of Rutgers University John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, said that we can't predict very well how significant the changes will be or how quickly these changes will occur. What's different about this time is that the elements of economic change are occurring simultaneously, and faster than previous iterations of this same story.
There are dire predictions that the world will end, and billions of people will be out of work, he said. “But what we do know is that in the long run, over time, as labor economists say, ‘the labor markets clear.’ People do get jobs." No one really knows how different it will be, but we do know that “millions get hurt in the process."
Sebastian noted that many of the technologies the speakers had mentioned are a little bit closer to the marketplace, so we can make a bit more of an intelligent guess about their impact on the workforce.
For instance, computing systems will behave less like a person and more like a team, he said. “That's the game changer that comes with this. The power comes when things are interconnected and become connected to information resources, and are able to draw on real-time knowledge that we as individuals can't and probably never will do.”
At the end of the conference, there was a lively discussion about what schools and educators can do to prepare children for this different future world of work. Audience members showed uncertainty about where to begin, although some suggested that it was urgent to train the teachers first, so they can pass that knowledge on. […]
on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am
[ This article originally ran on StateScoop.com as a part of “Public Safety: A StateScoop Special Report.” You can find the original here.]
Chief Technology Officer Dave Weinstein says his state — which has the highest population density in the nation — faces a unique challenge in pursuit of a media-rich 911 service.
Last year, New Jersey's Office of Information Technology announced the launch of new text-to-911 capabilities that initiated the state's move toward modern public safety technology.
Through partnership with the New Jersey State Police and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, a new emergency tool was extended to the hearing impaired or those in unique emergency situations where they find themselves unable to speak.
Turning the system on was "a big win," said Dave Weinstein, New Jersey's chief technology officer. The new functionality was a useful and convenient stopgap that runs on existing infrastructure — but now the state is looking to the future.
A recent request for information (RFI) puts New Jersey in the company of other states that are surveying options for next-generation 911 technology. The goals is to bring emergency services up to speed with a commercial marketplace where people expect easy sharing of images, videos and text.
As the nation awaits FirstNet, a nationwide wireless network for first responders, next-gen 911 promises to serve as the public-facing counterpart, if states can find solutions compatible with their existing infrastructure and a way to pay for it all.
Weinstein discussed the goals and rationale behind the RFI with StateScoop:
StateScoop: What is New Jersey considering as it considers next-gen 911 submissions from vendors?
New Jersey is unique because we have hundreds of PSAPs, public safety answering points, and we want to use the implementation of the next-gen 911 system as an opportunity to drive some consolidation so that we don't have so many independently operated PSAPs. From an IT perspective its more efficient, from a cost perspective it makes sense, but it also makes sense from an operational perspective.
We have really good relationships with our local PDs across the state. There is a statutory body that I co-chair with New Jersey's Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and we use that venue to essentially establish some consensus around these public safety communications, priorities and policies. One of those is consolidation of PSAPs as we move down the next-gen road.
What are the main factors to consider as the state moves toward procurement and implementation?
We're still early in the process. I think there are a couple variables. Obviously, funding is a key one. We have different mechanisms in New Jersey for dealing with that.
I think perhaps the biggest challenge that New Jersey will face is implementation and we're not unique in this regard, but I think it's a bit more pronounced in New Jersey given the aforementioned number of PSAPs and the degree to which historically we haven't embraced consolidation — lots of players, lots of equities for a relatively small state. Geographically, we're extremely densely populated. [New Jersey has] the highest population density in the country, so there's a challenge there just in terms of the sheer volume of PSAPs and having to coordinate that with all the municipalities.
The other piece is speed. We want to obviously move quickly so we can retire the old [system] sooner rather than later and not have to incur the cost of maintaining the old as we bring up the new. So striking that balance will be a critical factor for us as we implement it, just to avoid unnecessary costs over the long term.
Is funding a major factor?
New Jersey, like many states, is under some fiscal constraints so fortunately the governor has prioritized next-gen 911 so it's not a matter of priorities, it's just making sure we have the money and like I said, we had a vehicle set aside to not only maintain existing systems certainly, but also build out the new one.
New Jersey faced criticism from the press for "diverting resources" away the from its next-gen 911 fund to pay for other things. What happened here?
There's a lot of misinformation in there. I think it was some innocent mischaracterization, to be honest, by the reporter. The funding that my office receives for 911 is completely utilized for 911. There's other funds authorized to be utilized for other public safety purposes, and the state police receives a lot of that funding, but we use all of our funds from this fund source to maintain the 911 system and fund the salaries of the people who maintain the 911 system.
They're not diverted, because they're only allowed to be used for certain purposes. The word "diverted" implies they're being used for something that they're not authorized to be used for, which is not the case. All the monies are being used to support various public safety programs and the money that my office receives from that source is being exclusively utilized for 911.
There's actually a line-item in the governor's budget proposal for FY '18, that begins July 1, to support 911 and that funding would come from legislation that has yet to be enacted but that the governor would certainly sign, which would collect the same fee that is collected off of your telephone bill, but it would include what has heretofore been a loophole in burner phones, pre-paid phones.
Why is next-gen 911 so important?
This goes way back to the finding of that post-9/11 report on the need for interoperability as well as resiliency when it comes to our emergency services networks. It's a big lift for a lot of states.
I'm encouraged that eventually we'll get there and the FCC is leading the way with a fairly accommodating roadmap, I think. Most of the feedback I'm getting from folks in New Jersey and across the country is that this is something that can be done and that's encouraging so it's good that the federal government isn't putting out something that is overly burdensome. And folks generally buy into the business case.
Big picture, in the next five to 10 years, you're going to see major differences in the ways that citizens interact with law enforcement and it's going to be more mobile, it's going to be more visual, and next-gen is going to help us get there.
This story was updated shortly after publication to correctly reflect the participating agencies.
on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am
James Barrood, president and CEO of the NJ Tech Council, officially launched the new Vi Hubs coworking and collaboration space, located in the refurbished Russel Hall, at Fort Monmouth (Oceanport).
He did so on Friday during “Breakfast Bytes,” an early morning meeting of the NJ Strategic Design + Tech meetup group.
The meeting came near the end of a busy tech week in New Jersey. During that week, the NJ Tech Council had partnered with a number of tech meetups and others to hold Jersey Innovation Week, a cluster of events highlighting the New Jersey tech, entrepreneurship and innovation scene.
Jesper Helt, chief human resources officer at Commvault (Tinton Falls), moderated a discussion between Simon Nynens, chairman and CEO of Wayside Technology Group (Eatontown), and Michael Abboud, founder and CEO of TetherView.
Commvault is a publicly traded data-protection and information-management software company; Wayside Technology Group’s mission is to “deliver easy access to superior tech”; and TetherView specializes in providing a private business cloud with high security, high availability and high compliance.
The panelists focused on how to build and grow a culture of innovation, and the unique challenges of working with a diverse and highly talented work force.
“It is about execution, not just ideas” said Nynens, who added that employees need to be recognized and valued in a company. When recruiting, “never take the pedigree, always take the underdog,” he advised. Also, treat your team like a family, even if that means trusting employees who have made mistakes in the past to not make them again.
Abboud shared how hard, but important, it is to share information in a technology company. He said that once TetherView left the startup stage, he educated his sales team on how difficult the technology is in his company.
Helt noted that at Commvault, 15 percent of employee time is allowed for “skunk works” projects, which are researched and developed by employees primarily for the sake of radical innovation. Employees come up with new ideas all the time, and are encouraged to bring their ideas to hackathons and to share them with the company, Helt said.
Chris Pallé and Sean Donohue, the cofounders of Vi Hubs, were also present. They spoke to prospective coworkers at the meeting, who enjoyed a free day pass to New Jersey’s newest coworking space. Oceanport is very close to the beach, and for a limited time new tenants will be receiving a free beach pass when they sign up, they told the group. […]
on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am
The collaboration of two New Jersey companies has resulted in an opportunity for people with as little as $50,000 to invest to have a robo-adviser and get access to alternative investments formerly available only to those with $1 million to invest.
The two companies are Building Benjamins, the online arm of Tradition Capital Management, a Summit-based registered investment adviser (RIA), and Invessence (Chatham), the wealth-management technology provider that built and customized the engine behind Building Benjamins’ offering. Together, the companies developed a customized online robo-advisor called “Building Benjamins.”
Benjamin C. Halliburton, founder, CEO and chief investment officer of Tradition Capital Management, explained that, during the past four or five years, ’40 Act mutual funds (pooled funds under the Investment Company Act of 1940) have allowed the investment community to offer alternative investments as part of a portfolio. These alternative investments provide a wiser way to diversify portfolios so that they are not so dependent on stock market forces, he said.
Such asset classes as reinsurance, alternative lending, real estate, variance risk premium harvesting and others can now be included in portfolios offered online, and thus made available to a market that didn’t have access to them before. He noted that ’40 Act funds have to file with the SEC before they are launched, have a board and are subject to more scrutiny than alternatives such as partnerships or hedge funds.
“There are 100 or 200 firms doing this for the million-dollar-and-above clients, but nobody is doing it in the $50,000 space,” said Halliburton. “So we are going to take these stronger, better-diversified portfolios and present them to the mass market.”
People who wish to include these investments in their portfolio could have a return that is two percentage points higher than if they were just buying stocks and bonds at the same overall portfolio risk level, he noted. “And compounded over time, that is a huge advantage to a client,” he said in an interview.
Invessence provided the white label technology for the digital adviser. “They have all the code for portfolio selection, monitoring, online reporting, etc. In addition, they customized the product to work with Building Benjamins’ specific portfolio requirements.
“After investigating the various capabilities, we chose a robo-adviser platform company and worked with them for about 10 months, when we realized they couldn't provide the customization that we needed to deliver the value-added presentation capability. While they could deliver the value added, their solution wasn't going to hop out at clients as they went through the process to sign up.
“Invessence was very customizable. We have a very unique platform. As we worked through this process, and we explained our needs, we have made significant improvements to their white label capabilities. Clearly, they will be able to transition this to other online brokers. They have been very good about building out a customized product and making something that is going to work.”
Building Benjamins launched its product in February. […]