At the intersection of public policy and technology stands Sam Blakeslee, founder and director of the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy (IATPP) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California.
A former state senator, Blakeslee’s vision is to bring policy leaders, industry experts, students and faculty together to develop and deploy practical solutions to complex challenges facing society in the areas of open government, education and energy. The IATPP’s first open government project is Digital Democracy, an online platform that enables users to research, view, clip and share video of California Senate and Assembly committee hearings.
A beta version of the next-generation video archive solution launched last year. After Digital Democracy caught the eye of philanthropists, the institute received a $1.2 million grant to roll out the full version later this year. Once complete, the platform will help usher in a new era of watchdog activity in state government.
Blakeslee, who says his team is responsible for IATPP’s success, has a three-pronged goal with Digital Democracy: give the media accurate information on what really goes on in committee hearings, empower the general public to understand the state political process better, and hold state lawmakers accountable if they cut political deals on various bills and renege later on.
In addition to Digital Democracy, IATPP is active in renewable energy and education. Blakeslee’s team introduced CalWave, which aims to harness ocean power to generate electricity. The institute also founded the Connect Academy program to develop a tablet-based interactive and culturally appropriate English-language learning system for California-based elementary schools.
Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology magazine from 2011 to mid-2015.