Bill Schrier is senior policy advisor in the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) at the State of Washington. In this capacity he chairs the State Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC), serves as the primary point of contact for the FirstNet effort in the state and advises the CIO on other matters.
In the past he served as the Deputy Director of the Center for Digital Government. He also retired in May, 2012, after over 8 years serving as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the City of Seattle and director of the city's Department of Information Technology (DoIT). In this capacity he managed over 200 employees and budgets up to $59 million to support city government technology, and reported directly to Mayor Michael McGinn.
Schrier was named one of Government Technology’s 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2008, and a Computerworld Premier 100 Leader for 2010. He writes a blog about the intersection of information technology and government, how they sometimes collide but often influence and change each other. He tweets at www.twitter.com/billschrier
Schrier is a retired officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington.
Governments, private companies and data brokers each collect a lot of data on individual citizens. A recent Federal Trade Commission report highlights over 200 data fields collected by data brokers alone. We each need a "data dossier" where we can see what data is being collected and how it is being used.
Is the boss always right? If a Mayor or Governor is elected by the people, they receive a report card every two or four years in the form of a new election. It is the duty of the CIO to make the best recommendations possible, but ultimately it is the decision of the senior official in the government about what to do. "Nobod Elected Me".
The First Responder Network authority is charged by Congress to build a nationwide public safety wireless network. A member of its board has raised concerns about the openness and transparency of this Federal Government agency in doing its work. Is FirstNet open and transparent? Here's Bill Schrier's opinion, with some suggestions to improve.
Next Generation 911 is a plan to bring texting, images, photos and much more to 911 centers, which, today, operate stand-alone and really only accept voice telephone calls. However many cities have implemented 311 centers complete with web apps, smartphone apps, text to 311 and even social media links from Facebook and Twitter. What lessons can NG-911 learn from NG-311?
Driverless vehicles, intelligent transportation systems and widespread deployment of sensors foretell a time when humans no longer drive automobiles. In such a world there would be few car accidents, no speeding tickets and vast changes to government and private sector firms such as attorneys, insurance companies and hospital emergency rooms.
With the advent of smart phones and tablet computers as well as fast-to-deploy cloud services, many IT Departments find themselves offering products and services which are old, slow and increasingly irrelevant to the business of government.
In the last week of 2012, Congress extended FISA, which allows the Government to eavesdrop on email and other communications. At the same time, in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the NRA and others called for major databases of the mentally ill to prevent them from acquiring weapons. Are we willing to give up our privacy and personal data to government-owned databases just so we can keep other rights, such as gun ownership?
Given the minaturization of electronics and storage, we soon might carry a single device which is a true "personal assistant". But such devices may very well replace most jobs, including professions like the legal profession. What does this mean for the economy in general and for government specifically?
The Evergreen Apps Challenge concluded in Seattle on October 1st, a contest for developers to use open data from the City of Seattle, King County and the State of Washington. There have been apps contests in other places, but this one is somewhat different. And where do we go from here for government transparency, open data, and apps?
We hear a lot - especially from politicians - about "Change". But most of our lives need to be stable and grounded. How do we make appropriate "changes"? The White House this past week honored 13 individuals - including a number of local CIOs - as local innovators and Champions of Change. They know exactly how to make bold change using information technology
Rebecca Blank, acting Secretary of Commerce, has appointed the Board of Directors of the First Responders Network Authority. It is charged to build a nationwide public safety broadband wireless network, serving all city, county and state governments. But, for the 21 cities, regions and states who already started building, it means, for the most part, the end of the road.
Gizmodo/Wired writer Mat Honan's accounts where hacked, aided and abetted by Amazon and Apple, and all his devices were zeroed out and his Twitter account compromised. What can the regular old government employee do to avoid such a hack? Tongue-firmly-in-cheek advice.
Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz is a visionary chief. At the IJIS Institute summer briefing he described how he is implementing that vision in Albuquerque. It starts with gathering a lot of information and getting it to police offiicers in the 3 minutes and 38 seconds it takes them to arrive at a priority one call.
City, County and State Chief Information Officers usually run an internal-to-the-government technology operation. Increasingly, they need to be outward focussed, helping elected officials attract and nuture new businesses - especially technology-based businesses, in their communities.
FirstNet will shortly be constituted as an independent agency in the Federal government to start building a nationwide public safety 4G LTE wireless network. But many companies and telecommunications carriers have built LTE networks - what can their experience teach us about constructing FirstNet?
Congress authorized and funded a nationwide public safety wireless broadband in February, 2012. Building the network will require cooperation and collaboration between city, county, state and federal governments. It will require public safety agencies to cooperate with utilities, transportation, transit and public works departments. It will require departments and agencies which have historiclally competed with each other to "live together" to build it and make it work.
Why do we consistently promise too much and then fail to deliver on information technology and other government projects? The project mantra is clear: "scope, schedule, budget". But how we actually do the planning, estimating and getting approval to start a project well that's the horse of a different color.
The Seattle Area experienced a severe snow and ice storm in January, 2012. Emergency Operations Centers were activated and disaster preparedness plans invoked. What lessons about the use of information technology in emergency management can we learn from this storm
Traditionally governments have built their own public safety networks to dispatch police, fire, utilities and transporation workers. Cell phone networks are just too unreliable for such uses. But such networks cost hundreds of millions of dollars, which governments don't have. Is there a way to create a private-public partnership to combine commercial cell networks with government networks and get a win-win?
Does government regulation hobble the United States economy? In most cases, regulation keeps airplanes safe and flying, safeguards water and air quality, and puts nasty people in jail who do insider trading of stocks or manipulate the accounting of their companies, harming every American and the entire economy.
The City of Seattle's website www.seattle.gov and its open data feed data.seattle.gov received 2011 "Best of the Web" and "Digital Government Achievement Awards" from the Center for Digital Government. What's the "secret sauce" behind creating a great city government web portal?
Almost every one young and old seems to have a smart phone these days. Those smart phones have cameras and Internet access. Yet Government still rarely gives smart phones to responders such as police and firefighters. Why not? One reason is that responders have no priority on cellular networks, Congress needs to act to create a nationwide public safety wireless broadband network.
For the first time ever, the United States may be able to build a nationwide network to serve public safety. On June 8, 2011, the Senate Commerce Committee passed bill S.911 by a bi-partisan vote of 21-4. This is courageous action by Republican and Democratic Senators working together under the leadership of Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison. President Obama endorses in his 2012 budget the almost $12 billion allocated in S.911 to build the network. On June 16th Vice-President Biden and other leaders encouraged the full Senate and House to pass the bill, so the President can sign it this year. But will the rest of Congress have the courage to do so?
Osama bin Laden's death is welcomed by many around the world and especially in the United States. But his life and many terrorist attacks have significantly altered what technology investments we've made in local and State governments. Interoperable communications for responders, especially, is receiving more attention as the anniversary of September 11th approaches.
Code for America is a non-profit organization dedicated to building Web 2.0/Gov 2.0 applications to improve the way cities, counties and other governments operate. These applications will be open source, freely available for any government to use. In March 2011, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boston worked with Code for America to define the first of these applications to be developed. This is the story of the inception - the birth - of these first Code for America applications.
Many people - and governments - are attracted to Bright Shiny Objects (BSOs). They try to adopt the latest technologies, including Facebook and Twitter and Blogs and smart phone applications. But without a coherent plan, this is confusing to employees and the public.
"A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage" - election slogan for Herbert Hoover, claiming that everyone will be prosperous under a Hoover presidency. Maybe the day will come when a politician promises a "computer on every desk, fiber broadband in every house and a smartphone in every pocket."