In Point of View The Cost of Free Wi-Fi [March 2007], Mr. Peterson makes a valid point regarding the use of a "free" government-sponsored Wi-Fi network.
Using the metaphor of the government-funded interstate highway system, he notes that we (the general public) don't really care where our fellow travelers are going and again don't care about what they do when they get there.
Using this metaphor, there is a corollary however. The general public not only cares, but demands that government regulates the use of the highway system for the general welfare. Even though the "public facility" is there for all of the public to use, government is mandated to enforce its laws, especially within the public ways.
One is not "free" to solicit illicit goods or transport illicit goods on the public highways. One cannot set up shop within the public way for even a licit business without restrictions that are not required for that same business on private properties, etc.
The point is government does have a mandate and a strict obligation to enforce its laws, especially when any illicit use of its public properties is being made.
-- Joe Garlitz, Administrator, City of Elgin, Ore.
Missing the Mark
The Fit to Print biometrics article [March 2007] misleads Government Technology readers.
FBI background checks have never taken 90-180 days for our government agency applicants. Having worked in personnel investigations for several years at the former Defense Investigative Service, I quickly learned that different processing times are based upon different priority levels. White House applicants get top priority, compared to vendors seeking government contracts, for example.
Contributing Writer Adam Stone also claims that optical scanners "can read a fingerprint regardless of dirt, residue or other interference." Also false. LiveScan fingerprint scans require definitive "tread pattern" to correctly identify and then classify fingertip impressions, be they arches, loops or whorls.
Worn-out human fingertips become unreadable dots ... like salt grains or sand pebbles. No reading = no classification. No classification = no identification. Result? Repeated fingerprinting attempts, costing additional staff time and also additional vacation leave for many job changers.
Problem sources? Middle-agers, trades workers, outdoor enthusiasts and certain ethnic groups, as learned from both Virginia State Police training and our agency's 14,000 yearly applicant fingerprint scans.
-- Chief Donald E. White, CHSP, CHCM, Director of Safety and Security, Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute
Hello from El Paso.
We really appreciate your editorial [The Cost of Free Wi-Fi, March 2007], which deals with an issue we struggle over.
-- Peter Cooper, CTO, El Paso County
The argument you seem to make is that government should not place limits or restrictions on Wi-Fi hotspots, and you use the example of our public transportation system [The Cost of Free Wi-Fi, March 2007].
To make our public roads safe and to prevent chaos on our roads, the government does have "rules" and laws that govern how our highways are to be used. There are speed limits, as well as many other sensible rules that are intended for the public good.
If public-funded Wi-Fi allows people to set up P2P [peer-to-peer] sites, this will have an adverse affect on how others are able to use the network. While a packet is a packet, P2P has the potential of using up large amounts of the bandwidth, which will have an adverse effect on other users.
--Tom Gray, Network Administrator, SUN Area Career & Technology Center
Hands Off Wi-Fi
Your article made interesting reading [The Cost of Free Wi-Fi, March 2007].
I could not agree with you more. I especially appreciated your road analogy.
Wi-Fi today has become the economic road of the country, and as such, the government should build and maintain them. As we use the roads for whatever we want, we should be able to use the Wi-Fi for whatever we want. The government needs to stay out of the business of censoring what we do on the Wi-Fi roads as well. Criminals can still be punished on the Wi-Fi highway as they can on the paved highway. But if it is legal, then the government needs to leave us alone -- without a court order.
As for bandwidth, it will be much cheaper to build bigger bandwidth than to build bigger roads.
-- Neeraj Nigam, Neeraj Nigam for U.S. Congress
Voting is Hard Work
I have been an avid reader of Government Technology for several years, and wish to comment on a recent article that you wrote [The Technology Devolution, January 2007].
Elections have been going through changes since we first introduced the mechanical lever machines back in the 1800s, and they are still being used today in New York -- with many issues surrounding them as well.
The introduction of electronic voting is not new, as there have been DREs [direct recording electronic] voting machines since the late '80s, early '90s. Problems have occurred with each new process of voting, and it has taken some time to work all of the bugs out of the system. The use of optical scan units for counting paper ballots has also not been without its detractors.
In this era of instant gratification, election officials are constantly under attack to provide quicker service, no waiting in line, simple to understand, multiple languages, vision impaired, etc., and do this with reduced budgets at the local level.
It is no wonder that numerous election officials are deciding to retire or just quit. Would you do this job for $7.50/hour? I sure would not, but that is what some of our election officials in Georgia are making.
No one seemed to be concerned about the burden of back office operations that we must contend with while continuing to make it convenient for voters. We currently have 45 days of no-excuse absentee voting prior to an election, one week of "early voting" at multiple locations prior to an election and, oh yes, followed by Election Day (all precincts open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. followed by required completion of vote summaries prior to going home).
We have DRE voting machines in Georgia, and they are currently working well, and the public has enjoyed the benefits of such. Our poll workers know how to use them and have been able to work with the intricacies of such equipment as they have had good training and lots of experience.
The last thing we need now is another new process as we have only had this one in place for four years -- recently I surveyed more than 1,000 people in our county as to how they enjoyed the process of voting and it was overwhelmingly positive.
If you are interested, I would be pleased to send you the raw data.-- Gary J. Smith, Director of Elections and Registrations, CERA, Professionalism Makes the Difference, Forsyth County, GA