With the holidays behind us and a new year ahead, what better time to talk about a few topics that figure to be prominent in 2013? My list is hardly exhaustive, but based on conversations I’ve had over the past several months, here are a few technology issues that may rise to the top.
Cybersecurity — It’s hard to see how this doesn’t get a fair amount of attention this year. Legislation to improve the sharing of threat information and create cybersecurity standards for the companies that run critical infrastructure failed late last year. Some analysts are betting that the Obama administration will take up the issue again in 2013 — perhaps more successfully in the absence of election-year politics. They also predict that Obama may act via executive order if legislation hits another roadblock. Meanwhile, the bad news keeps coming. In October, for instance, South Carolina officials discovered an attack that exposed 3.6 million Social Security numbers and other data. Perhaps improving state and local economies — along with growing awareness and sensible regulations — will lead to more resources being put into cybersecurity efforts in 2013.
Drones — With the FAA loosening restrictions on public safety use of drones this year, and broader commercial use set to begin in 2015, this is an issue that’s bound to heat up. Already, growing use of drones is stirring up worries over safety and privacy. But proponents argue that unmanned aircraft can cover dangerous missions like bad-weather search and rescue or monitoring chemical spills. Indeed, as I write this, govtech.com is reporting on drone use by Louisville, Ky.’s emergency management agency to monitor the derailment of a train carrying hazardous material.
Identity management — This has been a challenge since I got into this business nearly 20 years ago. But a few trends might raise the urgency of these efforts. Strong identity and access management, of course, is part of cybersecurity, particularly as agencies release more sophisticated online and mobile transactions. It’s also a key to good customer service. Governors like Michigan’s Rick Snyder see identity management as fundamental to giving citizens a better experience with e-government services. Finally, Obama’s re-election means implementation of the Affordable Care Act will push forward, including work on health benefits exchanges that will require integration with various social service programs. Linking those programs will rely on effective identity management, among other things. (You can read more about that on p. 30, where writer David Raths sizes up the presidential election outcome.)
Clearly my list could be longer. I didn’t touch on analytics, smart infrastructure, the cloud or mobile payments — all of which we expect to cover in 2013. So what’s on your list?
Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government Technology, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic.