Digital Government

U.S. Intelligence Community Supports Sharper Satellite Images

DigitalGlobe offers a range of high-resolution satellite images.

In the increasingly competitive business of satellite imaging, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe is getting a welcome boost from some powerful friends. U.S. government agencies, particularly those in the intelligence sector, have traditionally worried that allowing private companies such as DigitalGlobe to sell increasingly high-resolution images could undermine one of the government’s key strategic advantages on the geopolitical scene. However, in light of advances made by non-U.S. satellite imaging companies, the intelligence community is now supporting DigitalGlobe’s push to make those higher resolution images publicly available on the open market. Why? Market share and global competitiveness.   More

Government Jobs Life Science

Techonomic Top 5: Federal Inefficiency, Chromosome Breakthrough, Virtual Employers, and More

Andrew Hessel (l) with Stewart Brand and Eri Gentry at Techonomy 2013 in Tucson, Ariz.

Every week we spotlight techonomic happenings on the Web and beyond, picking people, companies, and trends that exemplify tech’s ever-growing role in business and society. Here’s what’s got our attention.   More

Global Tech Government

Can We Hold Back Data-Secessionism?

Web

German Chancellor Merkel has called for a "European data network" that would prevent Europe-to-Europe information from passing through the U.S., and the EU has joined with Brazil to build a new undersea fiber optic cable that would be out of the control of U.S. telecoms companies. Up until now, however, Net infrastructure outside of countries like China has sent data packets on routes based on efficiency, not on national origins. Now a former German Defense Minister in Merkel's own government has come out against the mindset that leads to these parochial policies that would "balkanize" the Internet. In an article for Techonomy, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg argues against what he calls "data secessionism."   More

Global Tech Government Opinion

European Legislators Face “Data Secessionism”

The key players in the public and private sector are now working to protect their interests in a world that is shifting from government to “Googlement”—driven by the unprecedented ability of companies to gather, store, and evaluate vast amounts of personal data. Adding to the challenge will be unabated progress on more invasive technologies such as biometrics, household robotics, smart homes, and connected cars, coupled with widespread adoption of cloud computing. Even overconfident U.S. tech titans must concede that Europe is in the pole position to shape this process and that the Old Continent’s success or failure will reverberate around the world.   More

Government

The Inefficiency Bunker

(Image via Shutterstock)

It's housed 230 feet underground in an old mine in rural Pennsylvania. The official government paperwork it processes follows a long and winding procedure that takes more than three months to complete. And despite all of today's advanced computing technology, its operations rely on physical paper records and manual data entry. This is the Office of Personnel Management, which The Washington Post calls "one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government." It is the department that processes the retirement papers of government employees. From the time the office receives a retiree's papers to the time it issues a retirement check, the process takes about 61 days. That's not a day less than it took back in 1977.   More

Energy & Green Tech Government Life Science

Techonomic Top 5: Reanimating the Woolly Mammoth, Facebook Drones, and more

(Image via Shutterstock)

The passenger pigeon became extinct in 1914, though not long before it flew in flocks that could number in the billions (yes, with a "b"). But a group of scientists has teamed up with tech visionary Stewart Brand in spearheading an effort to bring the species back to life. The so-called de-extinction project could reanimate long-lost species like the woolly mammoth and even mitigate environmental threats like melting permafrost, according to some.   More

Digital Government

Obama: From Bottom-Up Candidate to Top-Down President

Like so many of us, California's Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom was inspired by Barack Obama's Internet-driven 2008 Presidential campaign. Indeed, Newsom was so inspired by a campaign run by "35,000 self-organizing communities" that he wrote a book called "Citizenville," which sees all change as beginning from the bottom up. But Newsom has fallen out of love with Barack Obama. As he told me at our latest Ericsson and AT&T hosted FutureCast event at the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto, the "bottom-up candidate" has turned into the "top-down President." Obama isn't the Internet President, Newsom insists. By transitioning from change.gov to whitehouse.gov, he's let his Internet base down.   More

Digital Government

Can the Internet Make Politics More Collaborative?

So what is politics? Is it something we do once every couple of years—electing politicians who then are supposed to do stuff for us? Or is it a collaborative space, what the ancient Greeks called a "polis," where citizens go to improve their community? According to California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, we need to change our politics from what he calls a "referendum process" to something more collaborative. More polis, less petition, Newsom says. And that's where the Internet comes in.   More

Government Security & Privacy

Investigate NSA to Avert Police State, Privacy Consultant Warns

(Image via Shutterstock)

Cyber-security expert Jody Westby calls “for the facts to be found out and the truth to be determined” about the NSA surveillance program in order for the nation’s leaders to make “informed decisions about how this country should be operating and the values it should be upholding in the digital age—before it turns into a full police state.” Under the headline, "It Is a Scandal That No One is Investigating the NSA," Westby, who is CEO of Global Cyber Risk, a fellow at the Carnegie Mellon CyLab, and adjunct professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as a frequent Techonomy participant, proclaims in a Forbes essay this week that she is stunned that no one but she has called for a full investigation.   More

Government

Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Vital for American Innovation

(Image via Shutterstock)

Open borders brought Andrew Carnegie and Andy Grove to the U.S. They also brought Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, a slew of German theoretical physicists to work on the Manhattan Project, and countless investors and entrepreneurs, including me. Immigrants to the U.S. have been transforming the industrial geography and the technology landscape since the 1860s when Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie launched Keystone Bridge Company, which became the cornerstone of his mammoth steel empire.   More

Government Startup Culture

Should Politicians Be More Like Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs?

Should all politicians have to launch a startup before entering politics? That’s the question I asked California’s Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, at the latest Ericsson and AT&T hosted FutureCast event held at the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto. Newsom, the author of "Citizenville," a kind of digital manifesto for 21st century networked politics, didn’t beat around the bush. “Yes," Newsom replied, sounding more like a startup guy than a career politician.   More

Government Learning Partner Insights

Will All Schools Have Nanotechnology Labs?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gets a lesson in nanotechnology from Wheeling High School student Drakkari Lott. (Photo: Ed.gov)

Setting up high school students with atomic-force microscopes and optical profilers so they can study nanotechnology may seem like a science teacher’s dream, but it’s already happening in at least one school in the United States. And the amount of outside financial support received by Wheeling High School in Illinois to make the lab a reality, coupled with efforts to encourage teachers to emphasize the field, suggests that more labs may soon be cropping up. The focus on nanotech in Wheeling and elsewhere speaks to its potential.   More

Government Techonomy Tucson Video

A Health Insurance CEO Who’s Bringing Apps to Affordable Care

David Kirkpatrick (l) and Mark Bertolini. (Photo by Asa Mathat)

If you’ve lost faith in the government’s effort, Aetna’s Mark Bertolini could be the guy who gives you hope that the health insurance industry will indeed improve. A top exec with the healthcare giant since 2003, and at the helm since 2010, Bertolini exemplifies this week’s Tucson Techonomy conference theme: “Leaders must think more like technologists.”   More

Techonomy 13 Government Techonomy Tucson Video

A Conversation with Mark Bertolini

Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick talks with Aetna Chairman, President, and CEO Mark Betolini about current and future developments in the healthcare marketplace. Watch the video and read the full transcript here.   More

Techonomy 13 Government Techonomy Tucson Video

Keeping the Internet Whole

Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick discusses the structure and regulation of the Internet with Theresa Swinehart of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Watch the video and read the full transcript here.   More

Elections Government Techonomy Tucson

U.S. Elections Face a Crossroads on Rights and Technology

Most of the American electoral system functions as it has for hundreds of years, relying on manual processing of paper records.

Most Americans believe that voting is their right, like freedom of speech or freedom of religion. But the right to vote doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution. Americans have historically faced legal obstacles to voting based on race, property ownership, gender, or age, while others were limited based on procedural confines such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Regardless of when or how certain groups have won enfranchisement, election administrators, voters, and advocates need to consider how technology can be an empowering force to ensure eligible voters have easy access to the process.   More

Government

The Unhealthy Truth About Obamacare’s Contractors

(Image via Shutterstock)

On July 16 of this year, Sarah Kliff posted a prescient piece on the Washington Post's Wonkblog. The post, “Meet Serco, the private firm getting $1.2 billion to process your Obamacare application,” reported that 90 percent of Serco’s U.S. business is with the federal government and that the 25-year-old firm pretty much owes its existence to government contracting. She also noted that Serco's experience is in paper pushing, not healthcare. Nonetheless, Serco won a contract that will pay it $114 million in 2013 and that eye-popping number of $1.2 billion over the next five years.   More

Global Tech Government

Myanmar’s Promising Experiment with Internet Freedom

An Internet user in Myanmar. (Photo: Reel Media Myanmar)

After decades of rule by a brutal regime known for imprisoning cyber-dissidents, internet freedom in Myanmar expanded dramatically over the past year, according to a recent report by Freedom House. The report warns that the Internet in Myanmar is still “not free,” however, and that major obstacles remain to further improvement. One is a legacy of repression that casts a shadow on the reform process.   More

Government Techonomy Tucson

Getting the Digerati to Double-Down on Civic Challenges

mollieruskinva

I have spent the better part of the past year investigating civic life in America. Last spring, on behalf of the organizations TurboVote and Reboot, I embedded for a week at a time in six different elections offices across this country, ranging from Brattleboro, Vermont, to Travis County, Texas. I met public innovators working hard behind the scenes, but I also found lumbering bureaucracies dependent on legacy technology systems.   More

Digital Government

A Healthcare Death Spiral Caused by Bad Website Design?

Media coverage of the HealthCare.gov debacle is plentiful, but two of the more poignant pieces to describe the cause and possible aftermath of the failed website rollout appeared in the New York Times in the past four days. Last Thursday, Clay Johnson, lead programmer for Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, and Harper Reed, the former chief technology officer of Obama for America, gave an insiders' perspective on why only a small fraction of the 20 million Americans who have logged onto Healthcare.gov have succeeded so far in obtaining insurance. Johnson and Reed blame "the way the government buys things."   More