Damon Winter/The New York Times
Posted by: Jack Santos
Yes, it’s historic.
So what happens now? And what’s the impact to IT, IT decision-making, and the economy in general?
This we know:
- We are involved in two wars at a horrendous cost of money and lives.
- We are in the middle of an economic meltdown not seen since the 1930s.
- We just elected an unknown quantity. No real track record in the US Senate, and minimal insight into his state legislative experience, or even his community organizing background.
What kind of vision can we expect from our new president, and where would he get the biggest bang for the buck for IT investment?
One way to look forward is to look back, and look at efforts that were proposed by the current (Bush) administration. One of those was the need for a broadband policy, and the administration’s inability to move forward on that effort.
The US has long lost its leadership on high speed broadband deployments, and the argument can be made on many fronts that this is a significant issue that needs federal government leadership. An increased emphasis on our national broadband strategy can mean gains in e-government for constituent access to services. Recently a friend of mine in a management position at Social Security was lamenting about the lack of internet usage by claimants; not only is this a demographic issue that plays into a technology comfort factor, but it also reflects lack of broadband access.
On any competitive front (green issues, energy issues, employment issues), broadband is an enabling technology. Increased broadband can enable more remote work/work at home, reducing carbon-based transportation reliance. Broadband increases access for employers to workers, and access to employment by workers. Broadband is at the crux of any new "smart grid" development for our energy infrastructure – exchanging information between energy suppliers and users about optimal energy usage and more flexible billing mechanisms; some energy companies have long explored broadband deployment through their grid, for that reason alone.
What’s really exciting about a renewed emphasis on broadband policy is that in an uncanny way,our foot dragging on wired broadband may in fact leave us in a position to leap forward to new options in wireless broadband deployment in a much more cost-effective manner – such as new wireless broadband options like WiMax, LTE (Log Term Evolution) , and UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband); all are 4th generation broadband options on the drawing boards or being piloted. The Apple IPhone is a perfect example of how the consumer market is rapidly evolving from wired desktop/laptop to untethered handheld connectivity – with tremendous success.
So whether it’s for more efficient government, increased flexibility for consumers, or increased options for business – in the current economic climate a renewed focus on moving the US up the broadband food chain may be one catalyst for a turnaround in our economy, and part of the foundation for future growth.
I am sure there are other IT related efforts that we need to keep an eye on, given the new blood in Washington. We’ll continue to explore them in this blog.