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What's Next?

Last Build Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 19:01:44 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2004 Al Sherwood

Tue, 21 Dec 2004 19:01:44 GMT

Judge awards ISP $1 billion in spam damages. Anti-spam activists disagree about whether a $1.08 billion judgment Friday against three spammers in Iowa will discourage others from sending unsolicited bulk e-mail. [InfoWorld: Top News]

Tue, 21 Dec 2004 19:01:08 GMT

Worst spyware queues up. CoolWebSearch is most dangerous item on a top 10 list of the worst spyware and adware programs. [CNET]

Tue, 26 Oct 2004 18:57:03 GMT

This is a new start. Just added another year to the Radio subscription to see if maintaining a Weblog will be something worthwhile. I have been amazed by the dedication of Bloggers, particularly the ones that go about keeping an eye on the traditional media, a fantastic development that I never had on my radar screen. From here on out this Blog is no longer work-related or a work Weblog and is done on personal time and will therefore be more indicative of personal interests. Many other folks do great coverage of e-government which has been a passion of mine for several years but it has become a "beat" well covered so it is time to branch off into other areas of interest. It doesn't mean I won't occasionally raise the topic but it won't be part of the future focus. I simply call the new effort "What's Next?" That leaves the topic area pretty open to evolve as I see fit.

Tue, 20 Jul 2004 13:58:03 GMT

Government Technology Magazine Launches IT Best Practices Portal

Government Technology Magazine has a new idea and it's a good one. Sick of having to register and share your personal information with 20 different IT companies to get access to white papers and IT best practices. GT provides a convenient one-stop portal to begin your research.  I think this is an excellent resource for IT Directors and Product Managers in carrying out their duties and assignments. It is complementary to the State of Utah's best practice libary, OWL. The Library, with a single registration offers access to  "the latest trends on the hottest new technologies," says GT. 

Thu, 15 Jul 2004 22:50:20 GMT

More Chips Anyone? The story below was written by WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press Writer Thu Jul 15, 9:39 AM ET   Chips Implanted in Mexico Judicial Workers MEXICO CITY - Security has reached the subcutaneous level for Mexico's attorney general and at least 160 people in his office — they have been implanted with microchips that get them access to secure areas of their headquarters. It's a pioneering application of a technology that is widely used in animals but not in humans. Mexico's top federal prosecutors and investigators began receiving chip implants in their arms in November in order to get access to restricted areas inside the attorney general's headquarters, said Antonio Aceves, general director of Solusat, the company that distributes the microchips in Mexico. Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha and 160 of his employees were implanted at a cost to taxpayers of $150 for each rice grain-sized chip. More are scheduled to get "tagged" in coming months, and key members of the Mexican military, the police and the office of President Vicente Fox (news - web sites) might follow suit, Aceves said. Fox's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Macedo de la Concha's office said she could not comment on Aceves' statements, citing security concerns. But Macedo himself mentioned the chip program to reporters Monday, saying he had received an implant in his arm. He said the chips were required to enter a new federal anti-crime information center. "It's only for access, for security," he said. The chips also could provide more certainty about who accessed sensitive data at any given time. In the past, the biggest security problem for Mexican law enforcement has been corruption by officials themselves. Aceves said his company eventually hopes to provide Mexican officials with implantable devices that can track their physical location at any given time, but that technology is still under development. The chips that have been implanted are manufactured by VeriChip Corp., a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions Inc. of Palm Beach, Fla. They lie dormant under the skin until read by an electromagnetic scanner, which uses a technology known as radio frequency identification, or RFID, that's now getting hot in the inventory and supply chain businesses. Scott Silverman, Applied Digital Solutions' chief executive, said each of his company's implantable chips has a special identification number that would foil an impostor. "The technology is out there to duplicate (a chip)," he said. "What can't be stolen is the unique identification number and the information that is tied to that number." Erik Michielsen, director of RFID analysis at ABI Research Inc., said that in theory the chips could be as secure as existing RFID-based access control systems such as the contactless employee badges widely used in corporate and government facilities. However, while those systems often employ encryption, Applied Digital's implantable chips do not as yet. Silverman said his company's system is nevertheless save because its chips can only be read by the company's proprietary scanners. In addition to the chips sold to the Mexican government, more than 1,000 Mexicans have implanted them for medical reasons, Aceves said. Hospital officials can use a scanning device to download a chip's serial number, which they then use to access a patient's blood type, name and other information on a computer. The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) has yet to approve microchips as medical devices in the United States. Still, Silverman said that his company has sold 7,000 chips to distributors worldwide and that more than 1,000 of those had likely been inserted into customers, mostly for security or identification reasons. In 2002, a Florida couple and their teenage son had Applied Digital Soluti[...]

Tue, 13 Jul 2004 18:16:52 GMT

Utah Ranks 8th Among the Nation's Top Digital States

Created by the Center For Digital Government and sponsored by Hewlett Packard and Microsoft. The Digital State Survey is the longest running and only remaining national report card on State's and their information technology efforts in the area of creating and sustaining their citizen service initiatives. Describing the winners the Center For Digital Government says: "Michigan, long known as an industrial-era powerhouse built on auto and steel manufacturing, has emerged as the leader, capturing first-place in the survey, followed by Washington, Virginia, Indiana, Arizona, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina (tied for 10th).  It also was noted that Michigan moved up the rankings from 11th to 9th to second in 2002 before capturing the top spot in 2004. Virginia also has followed a similiar pattern of improvement moving from 6th to 3rd place in this years ranking. Those following the activities in these states are aware of the significant effort that both Virginia and Michigan have made with IT consolidation. This effort appears to be paying off.   

Wed, 07 Jul 2004 15:02:12 GMT

Utah County Scores Big

Utah County's Web Portal was ranked tenth in the Nation in the 250,000-499,999 population category by the Center for Digital Government .
No other county in Utah made it into the top ten.  Three cheers for their effort!  Other Utah counties want to take on Utah in the next competition and move up the ranking? The time to get ready for next year is now.

Wed, 07 Jul 2004 14:45:06 GMT

Florida Archives E-mail to Fulfill Public Records Requests
Florida's Department of Health implemented new e-mail archiving software to better manage the agency's growing e-mail stores and ensure compliance with Florida statutes governing citizens' access to public records. Courtesy of  Government Technology Executive News

Wed, 07 Jul 2004 14:42:24 GMT

Courtesy of  TechRepublic
This audiocast presents the issues IT leaders need to examine before
deploying grid technologies and evaluates grid computing's many
benefits. Register for this free audiocast and receive a complimentary
download, "Develop an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan."

Tue, 29 Jun 2004 23:30:40 GMT

Electronic Voting Code Should Be Open Source

Clive Thompson writing in New York Times Magazine makes the case for open source in an article entitled: A Really Open Election.
The New York Times has called for a paper back-up while the Florida Secretary of State in an attempt to calm the fears of voters says:: ''The touch-screen machines are not computers.'' But one organization is offering a solution. The Open Voting Consortium combines open source software where everyone can inspect how votes get processed with a verifiable paper trail. This group is one to watch.

Tue, 22 Jun 2004 15:42:06 GMT

 Ten Best Government Intranets
"Redesigning an intranet for usability often more than doubled the use of these award-winning designs from ten public-sector organizations." See Jakob Nielsen's Alert Box for the winners.

Fri, 14 Nov 2003 15:35:47 GMT

Rising Exectations of a New Demographic (Kids and Youth) We have been saying for sometime that the real revolution in digital government is going to come in the next generation of children who view the Internet as an appliance much in the same way people of my generation viewed TV and my parents generation viewed the radio. Still, this report came as somewhat of a shock and indicated clearly that we are already well on our way. According to a report by the National Center for Educational Statistics and reported in the Salt Lake Tribune: "About 90 percent of people ages 5 to 17 use computers, and 59 percent of them use the Internet -- rates that are, in both cases, higher than those of adults." How will this change the expectations of digital government and online service delivery? In my opinion, a lot. Technologies, particularly the most disruptive ones are viewed very differently across generations as they move from magic to science fiction to marvelous innovation to necessity. We could debate the wisdom of children who seem to think TV viewing is a fundamental necessity, but try to pry that remote from a group that has clearly extended the utility of the opposable thumb! Still, how many of us except in maybe the most impoverished parts of the world see eating utensils for instance as purely a luxury?. Yet if you go back a few hundred years you would find they were an invention used only by the wealthiest in society. So, how does that relate to the expectations of government when our 5-17 year old children reach the age of majority? If we aren't prepared, the reaction will appear seismic in proportion. Luckily for us we have a little breathing room to be ready. Some people in my generation and also among even the younger Xers seem stuck in the idea that 24X7 eGovernment is a nice luxury that we provide to citizens and businesses as long as it doesn't interfere with "our day job." I've also heard some managers express the view that an employee portal is not a tool of sound management but is merely an employee perk!!? All I can say to this group is it is time to crawl out of the tar pits. Sadly, though they are in for a real shock. They were some of the same folks that saw the bust as the end and not the beginning. Also in 2001, other alleged "visionaries" were already predicting the "death" of eGovernment. But the demographics don't lie and kids and youth (5-17) are already of "voting" age and they are voting with their mice (mouses?) and blowing us adults out of the water as they flock to the Internet quicker than college students to Spring Break. And although they are playing games and checking on the weather the most frequent use is to complete school work. When these young people grow up some may never have stood in a line at a government office except maybe as a young child with a parent. For many the only channel of interaction they will have ever had with government (outside of the public school system or an occasional trip to the local libary that is) was online. Will they say: "Gosh, isn't it great that we can do our business with the government online instead of inline?" NOT! They will expect all (or nearly all) government services to be available online and if they aren't they will demand to know why not. This culture shift will shake governments that are not prepared, to their core. If we are not there waiting for the 5-17 year olds when they show up as adult citizens with a huge portfolio of government services basic confidence is government to deliver will suffer a blow that will be hard to recover from in the near term. In coming articles I will explore some steps that we can take right away to take with our portals to reach out to this age group because as this survey shows, they are already one of our[...]

Wed, 05 Nov 2003 17:40:10 GMT


At 10:14 a.m. November 5, 2003 Governor Michael O. Leavitt resigned from office to assume the role as Adminstrator of the Environmental Protection agency. The event is being streamed live from ITS and over At 10:16 a.m. Governor Olene S. Walker took the oath of office. At 10:17 a.m. the new Governor's picture and welcome statement was posted and went live on  At 10:21 a.m. the Governor Walker website also went live, a symbol of smooth government transition and of the conduct of "eGovernment in real-time."

It is only appropriate that I'm listening to Governor Walker's speech live at my computer in my office. Within a few minutes I will need to cut away to present some ideas at a quarterly board meeting of Utah Tech Corps a great organization that I have served on for the last three years. None of this (the live video stream, the online board meeting, posting to this weblog, and the synchronized transition of the new Governor's site, all in real time) would have been possible just a few years ago. On the morning of this transition I have great hope for eGovernment and its power to transform Utah government now and in the future. (Posted 10:39 a.m 11/5/03)   

Mon, 22 Sep 2003 17:23:52 GMT

Building the Virtual State: Information Technology and Institutional Change

I am reading this book that was published by the Brookings Institution. I have been meaning to read it for the last year and decided now was the time. Fountain supports her theories not only through the work of other researchers but through the classification and analysis of 50 finalists and semifinalists in the Innovations Program in American Government. When the book was written the federal government had about 25 cross-agency websites. The value of this work is not only its well-crafted theory and its documented descriptions of the practice of eGovernment at the federal level from 1993 until its publication in 2001. The book is both cause for optimism and also a warning. Fountain cautions against the theory of technological determinism...the idea that technology will lead inevitably to the transformation of pubic institutions. Fountain agrees that the growth of neworked computing, particularly the Internet has and can enable revolutionary transformation of the nation state. Nevertheless, she cautions that there are no guarantees. She further develops the framework (based on earlier work in human/computer interaction and technology diffusion) that she calls the "enactment of technology" within the structure of institutions and oganizations. She makes a strong case that political science, organizational behavior, and social science must work with computer science and engineering to study how bureacracies can permit, and in part be transformed, into productive organizational networks that can more fully participate in, and take advantage of the network computing. That's a mouth full but it is both rich and nutritious!         

Fri, 11 Jul 2003 18:38:55 GMT

Trends in .gov URLS

State's appear to be moving away from as the standard for state portal URL's to the .gov designation. 20 states, if I counted correctly are now .govs  Nevertheless some states still use the confusing .com or .org URL for their websites. Utah was one of the earliest states to move to the .gov designation and the ease of remembering our website URL's is one small example of good customer service. Unfortunately, we still have a few of our own state agency operated websites designated as .coms and .orgs   This is lessening over time thankfully. If you want to join the family of agency websites and you have not done so, send an email  for eligibility and 'how to" instructions. For most, it is a pretty straight forward and I think, a customer friendly process. We encourage any state or local government entity (political sub-divisions of state government) to apply. There is no charge for this service. Sorry, commercial or private non-profits are not eligible.  

Thu, 26 Jun 2003 19:54:48 GMT

Center For Technology in Government (CTG)
CTG at SUNY Albany is another example of a key player in digital government applied research. The Center for Technology in Government works with government to develop information strategies that foster innovation and enhance the quality and coordination of public services. Since its creation in 1993, the Center has conducted 25 partnership projects, which produced outcomes that have helped state, local, and federal government agencies improve services and operations. They have developed a very ambitious research agenda.

One recent area that should be great interest to Utah web designers might be CTG's integration of XML technology into their website. The site enables users to search by project, publication, and the themes of their work. After the initial investment in learning XML, they report, "...a dramatic and positive impact on overall site management and flexibility. 

Wed, 25 Jun 2003 19:09:25 GMT

Privacy Articles Courtesy of NASCIO Source: cnn.comDate Written: June 24, 2003Title: Supreme Court Affirms Use of Computer Filters in Public LibrariesLink: Source: fcw.comDate Written: June 23, 2003Title: CAPPS II Privacy Policy DelayedLink: Source: gcn.comDate Written: June 16, 2003Title: Health warning network guards privacyLink: Source: Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionDate Written: June 21, 2003Title: Security Drives License RedesignLink:  [...]

Wed, 25 Jun 2003 18:44:54 GMT

Digital Goverment Research Agenda

The digital government research agenda is broad and deep. Research centers or specialities are cropping up across the country partly as a result of funding focused in this arena by the National Science Foundation. Over the next couple of months I will focus on the key players in this arena and the types of products that have evolved from this research. I will also in the process hopefully make the case for a continuing multidisciplinary research agenda that is not just appealing to researchers alone but an agenda that leads to changing how digital government is done in the field.
One of the key NSF grantees is Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government under the auspices of the
National Center for Digital Government directed by Jane E. Fountain. The Center discusses why it exists: Public servants, technical specialists, and researchers have a deep obligation to examine, articulate and communicate the range of possible effects of ubiquitous computing in government and to influence its development through research, dialogue, and practical activities.
So, why should we care?. Practitioners in digital government need to evolve beyond our initial effort to be "first to market." While it is important to stay in the lead as a digital state, just putting up x number of applications a year won't be enough. Our approach must be disciplined and deliberate. That doesn't mean we can sit back and not put up applications, it simply means that flying by the seat of our pants is no longer enough. We must mature as a speciality. The key to our maturity is a community of practioners backed by a community of multi-disciplinary researchers to assist us in doing digital government not only quickly but smartly. A body of knowledge that can be passed on from project to project is essential for hitting the ground running.


Wed, 25 Jun 2003 18:04:13 GMT

Needless to say keeping the Blog active has been a challenge. In the future, I hope not only to report on the research focus of digital government but also on futures research and forecasts and where they intersect with digital government issues.


Tue, 20 May 2003 12:34:15 GMT

As you may have noticed, this weblog has been silent for quite a while. Part of the problem was giving it the priority needed and part was a question of relevance. As you know Dave Fletcher's weblog has been simply doing a fantastic job of doing a daily survey of the status of e-Government Services both in Utah and around the globe. The breadth of coverage has really fullfilled a communication need that was sadly lacking in our e-gov efforts in the past. Because of this coverage I found myself much more interested in reviewing Dave's BLOG as opposed to writing in this one. Over the last month I have been thinking about that focus and have decided to take a different direction and wanted to take a moment to explain why.   Digital government has evolved beyond the days of boom and bust. In the beginning we were attempting to move from static websites to ones where the public and businesses had a greater opportunity to actually do business with the government over the Internet. We spent the first several years picking the low hanging fruit from getting your hunting and fishing license online to renewing a motor vehicle registration.   However, since 9-11 post bust budgets have dramatically shrunk and so has some of the funding for IT projects.  It doesn't mean people aren't doing IT projects. According to information gained from the Product Management Council,  55 e-government services are either online this year or scheduled to be. Through our contract with Utah Interactive, we can pretty well count on 20+ applications annually or nearly two new applications per month in addition to many new website designs and updates and maintenance to 80+ existing online applications.   Although this has been excellent progress, the work has just gotten harder and the time it takes to build some of our newer enterprise applications are increasing as are complexity of  applications like OneStop Business Registration.  Our decisions on what to bring online and when ought to be more data driven. I will be talking more about this later.   As a kick off to this new direction I will be talking about some of the knowledge gained from the National Conference on Digital Government Research May 18-21 in Boston as well as other research areas.  [...]

Tue, 15 Apr 2003 20:50:20 GMT

New e-Gov Survey Released

Americans are online, e-savvy, and exploring e-government according to recent findings of a five-part study on the issue of e-government conducted by Hart-Teeter on behalf of the Council for Excellence in Government and Accenture. According to the report called:
The New e-Government Equation: Ease, Engagement, Privacy and Protection, Americans are exploring the Internet in large numbers. Nearly seven in 10 survey respondents have Internet access in their home, at school, or at work, and seven in 10 of those Internet users access the Internet at least once a day.Americans are using and appreciating e-government services offered by their federal, state, and local governments. Half of all Americans and three-quarters of American Internet users already have used a government website to find information or conduct a transaction. Nevertheless privacy and security remain key trust issues that governments must address. 

Tue, 25 Feb 2003 21:43:17 GMT

Software to Write Software: Hype or Holy Grail

A small British company claims to have created software that can write
new software--one of the long-sought goals in computer programming.

The new applications software developed by Appligenics Ltd. in Surrey
is "up to 500,000 times faster than human programmers and completely
error-free," says Jim Close, the company's business development
director. "That means whereas a human would consider 400 lines of
computer code a good day's work, our software writes that in under a
quarter of a second." -- Courtesy of World Future Society, a very interesting organization in which I've been a member for about fifteen years (if not longer).

This was the promise of CASE tools but as we all know that didn't get us too far. So, I prefer to think of this as a "new promise" until I receive information that proves otherwise. Holy Grail or Holy Hype? You decide. I prefer to smile rather than smirk first. I can always laugh about it later. I keep thinking we have got to find a way to get more digital government applications online at higher velocity like the Governor wants us to do. To do that we have to find ways of dramatically increasing our efficiency. Given that I will continue to keep my eye on "hair-brained ideas" even at the risk of being thought of as chasing "cold fusion." We need to keep our minds open lest cynicism set in. If a UK company with a bold idea can actually succeed in making this happen, I'm all for it. 

Fri, 07 Feb 2003 18:03:24 GMT

Feds Put Money Where Their Mouths Are

President Bush signed House Resolution 2458 into law on Dec. 17, devoting $345 million to e-government initiatives over the next four years. The law establishes an Office of Electronic Government within the Office of Management and Budget. The new office is to oversee integration of IT training, development, policy and interagency implementation throughout the federal government on a schedule that would see $45 million spent in FY 2003, $50 million in FY 2004 and $250 million in the two subsequent years.
Full Story

Wed, 05 Feb 2003 20:10:51 GMT

Grid Computing Tackles Smallpox Cure

 Scientists and technology companies think they may be able to make headway on a cure for smallpox using the idle computer computer power of PCs. From Deseret News  See full story .  For more information contact

Thu, 30 Jan 2003 00:20:53 GMT

Tired of wading through massive federal regulations? RegRadar may provide an answer that adds value and saves time by providing an e-gov federal regulations portal. According to News & Previews from the World Future Society: "Hot topics on the RegRadar screen now include nutrition labeling requirements for foods with trans-fatty acid, a review of ambient air quality standards for particulate matter, and anti-money-laundering programs for insurance companies."