Get ready for Gov 2.0 Expo later this month.
The event is being held on May 25 – 27, 2010 at the Washington Convention Center. Registration is still open, if you haven’t already signed up.
Laurel Ruma is co-chair of Gov 2.0 Expo and O’Reilly Media’s Gov 2.0 evangelist. She sat down with Fed Cloud Blog and talked about why you should plan on attending.
LR: Gov 2.0 Expo is our first multi-track, large conference that we’re having here in the D.C. Area. . . . We’re looking here at this great opportunity to bring technology and government together and really have a great discussion about what’s going on, because this is a very popular, interesting space.
FCB: A lot of times, especially in D.C., acronyms and buzzwords get thrown around a lot. What, exactly, is Gov 2.0 — for someone maybe coming in from the outside or maybe someone who’s part of a local community and wants to get active and wants to be part of this 2.0 community, but doesn’t really know what it is?
LR: That’s a great point. In the technology community, acronyms and buzzwords do get bounced around quite a bit, as well, but what we’re looking at here with Gov 2.0 — it’s an umbrella term for this next generation of government, one that accepts and uses technology as one of its main tenets. But, it’s not just the technology.
Technology is easy and tools are easy — it’s also people, and the collaboration between governments at every level, from federal down to your city government, with the people. This is happening easily with social media and more interaction on the web.
It’s also about looking at government as this great provider of information and open data and how it can be used to really further every American’s and global citizen’s desire to have more information about their government at any given time.
FCB: Obviously, President Obama has his Open Government Directive. Have you seen any changes since . . . agencies were directed by the President to open up all this data? Have there been any changes, or is it still in the preliminary stages?
LR: It’s interesting. A year ago, when President Obama took office, one of the first things that he did was sign this transparency collaboration memo. Really, it was the start of an idea — ‘let’s actually talk to an involve citizens about how we all can make government better’.
A year later, he had the agencies actually create Open Government Plans, and those were just released in April.
So, what that did was really just kind of give everyone a good understanding of where the agencies are and how they understand open government and how they will apply these ideas of open data, communicating with citizens . . . as well as transparency. At the federal level, we’re seeing some progress, which is fantastic. I would suggest that everyone take a look at what NASA’s doing. They have a very clear, mission-driven agency and are really focusing on letting people know when they open up space data, for example.
. . . Everyone is making great strides, but the exciting work is really happening at the city and state level, where people are a bit more nimble and elected officials tend to be re-elected for more than just two terms.
For example, at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, we’re seeing an opening of data for subway timetables. You could say — well, that’s a really minor thing, and it is, but then they started to open up data for bus timetables, and they did it in real time. So, that meant that you could go and you would know what time the buses are coming. You could actually plan your day. You could take control of the day.
FCB: Let’s . . . get back to the jargon. You have Gov 2.0, and then there’s, of course, cloud computing. . . . [Often], the security aspect comes up. Obviously, a bus schedule is public anyway, but I think some federal agencies are a little bit nervous about cloud computing, and open data, because not all of their data is for public consumption. Speak about that, and some of the nervousness that surrounds cloud and data security.
LR: Just to preface, I’m not a [security] expert, but what I do know is I am a consumer. When we think about using the Internet in general, we sort of have to think of it as one big cloud anyway.
For example, I live up here in Massachusetts and we recently bought a house and my address is now available for anyone to see because it’s part of the public record. That’s available online. Some would say — ‘well, that’s private information’ — but it’s a [public] contract when you go through and you make this deal to buy your house.
When we think about data and what the government may have, we also have to understand that, if you can physically go down to City Hall and get this information, then it’s part of the public record.
So, it’s also understanding what the public record is, and just being able to access it — to not have to physically go during the hours of 9 to 5, leave your job to find this information.
The information that the government has, a lot of times, is aggregated, so it’s not necessarily personally identifiable; but, at the same time, what we’re seeing are government agencies choosing to use private clouds. What they’ll do is they’ll just share information within their own agency with people with a security clearance and distribute the information.
Then, when you have a project, such as NASA and their Be a Martian! project — that is a consumer-facing, or public-facing project, so it’s in a different cloud. It’s understandable that not everything is going to be in the cloud, not everything is for public consumption.
What we’re just trying to say is that cloud computing is just one way to make your agency more efficient and, believe it or not, we’re kind of all using it anyway.