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Solving Problems with Technology Convergence

Social media, mobility, analytics and cloud technologies are transformational catalysts for communication and transactional relationships. They are rapidly becoming staples to the way people communicate both personally and professionally, and therefore carry huge implications for government across a wide range of areas.

Creating IT Futures Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CompTIA, recently published the Federal Technology Convergence Report which identifies the potential impact that converged technologies — social media, mobility, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) — could have on government communication, cooperation, and the ability to address the nation’s most significant issues.

The report defines convergence as a phenomenon that occurs when individuals use SMAC technologies to communicate, cooperate, and solve big problems. The 2013 Boston marathon bombing provides interesting insight into the power of convergence and the collective intelligence that can be gathered when SMAC is used cooperatively.

During the Boston marathon bombing, SMAC convergence specifically enabled the following:

  • Social interactions generated valuable data about the attack (specific timing of events, pictures, video, etc.)
  • Mobile technology made computing and reporting pervasive throughout the venue
  • Analytics were used to spot patterns and gain new insights
  • Cloud infrastructure from social media sites and the Boston Globe automatically scaled to accommodate the influx of data

It’s a powerful testament to the influence these technologies bring when used collectively. The same concepts can be applied to government operations and its approach to problem solving.

Consider the following to amplify communication and increase collaboration between citizens and their government to improve operations.

  • A universal commitment to linking data across agencies, including digitizing records, will enhance a government’s ability to engage and serve the public and lead to a “smarter government.”
  • Information accessibility and assurance are key components required for the interoperability of convergence technologies across agencies.
  • CIOs across all agencies will need to be part of national strategy based upon best commercial practices for digital government. Knowledge management will be especially important for the procurement and acquisition of best practices.
  • Convergence by its nature requires collaboration and transparency that will allow for more rapid access to data and increased citizen involvement.
  • Creating an ecosystem roadmap of potential private-sector partners capable of providing products and services for converged technologies will be indispensible for success.
  • Customer service will play a key role in facilitating adaptability and informed usage by both government and the private sector.

SMAC are already pervasive forms of communication and extremely effective when used collaboratively to address an issue. And we’ve only tapped the surface. Social media, especially LinkedIn, is set to become a mainstream platform for public and private sector collaboration. Data mining and predictive analytics will be fundamental to the effective implementation of convergence technologies and the cloud will be increasingly important for pooling resources and information distribution.

Technology convergence is already dramatically impacting how government entities operate today and will become even more critical in the future. It’s one of today’s most effective and efficient approaches to problem-solving.

About the Author

Charles (Chuck) Brooks serves as Vice President/Client Executive for DHS at Xerox. Xerox is a global product and services company that serves clients in 160 countries. Chuck served in government at the Department of Homeland Security as the first Director of Legislative Affairs for the Science & Technology Directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a Senior Advisor to the late Senator Arlen Specter and was Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught homeland security and Congress. Chuck has an MA in International relations from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Political Science from DePauw University. Chuck is published on the subjects of innovation, public/private partnerships, emerging technologies, and issues of cybersecurity.

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