Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Government Underutilized ICT

This is a list of commercially available technology that the government agencies currently underutilized:
  1. Google Maps - the simple ability to map a particular address is often lacking in many government agency websites. Many of them have dedica ted GIS departments but most of their work appears to be directed towards complex analysis. The public visiting these websites do not neccessarily want to know all the details but are more interested in knowing how the information relates to a particular street address or zip code.
  2. Content Syndication - RSS and Atom feeds are common on all blogs and commercial news websites. The ability to syndicate content from differnt sources and organize them by subject matter would be extremely useful to agencies which have to deal with information from multiple sources in multiple formats. RSS GOV has some excellent resources tailired specifically to government agencies though I have yet to see a really good implementation of it.
  3. Wikis - Government staff are often required to work collaboratively on projects often amongst themselve and very often (this is where I come in) wiht contractors. A typical document goes through dozens of iterations till an acceptable version is developed. Word documents proliferate and at the end of the day nobody knows why a particular change was important. Wikis seem like a great way to keep track of the iterations and allow multiple stakeholders to provide input on the same product.
  4. Shared Workspaces - Despite popular opinion to the contrary, government projects are very collaborative. Again given rising travel costs and the corresponding travel restrictions on staff, they increasingly have to collaborate remotely. A shared workspace can act as a virtual repository of call notes, products and shared resources.
  5. Vocabularies - One of the biggest hurdles to sharing information is that there is no common agreement on what to call a 'widget'. Different agencies will refer to it differently whcih makes it difficult to classify a resource - whether it be a tool, a document or a dataset. A vocabulary standard would go a long way to making it easier to classify data and information and enable information exchange.
  6. Search Technologies - Government agencies are seriously lacking in the area of search technology. Many of them still use archaic search systems which return irrelavent or out of date information.

1 comment:

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