Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:35am
On Thursday at the University of Washington, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra set out his vision for getting the government up to speed in matters IT.
As well as getting the nation online to pay their taxes, he wants to give people easy access to their health records, but is more than aware of the magnitude of the task ahead. The most pertinent point that Kundra made was the difference in attitudes to technology projects between publicly-funded projects and those in the private sector. While companies approach a task thinking "what does the consumer want?" Government projects tend to focus on how the thing will work, which usually ends up with them losing sight of their original aim--which, in this case, should be user simplicity. In IT terms, the Obama administration is already way ahead of the previous POTUS's attitude during his two terms of office. The Government has long since grasped that, for the concept to work, it will need to be full of open-source goodness, and will need the input of the private sector as well as the federal government's own boffins. Microsoft, Google and even Amazon could eventually be hosting the information in their Cloud computing systems.
Vivek has, though, got the right idea--"Think about the iPhone," he said, at the launch of the open-source 311 API on Wednesday, which aims to standardize cities' 311 services with the help of the people. "Apple didn't go out there and develop 150,000 applications. It developed the platform." Detractors of open-source projects will point out ever-constant security issues, but isn't that the case for proprietary software as well?
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