2016: The Year in Tech / Spotlight on the Gov Tech Scene
In the fourth quarter of 2016, an Accela departure, major merger in the gov tech space and the general election outcome took center stage.
OctoberThe civic tech community collectively gasped at the news of Maury Blackman’s departure from Accela, the company he founded. Interim CEO Mark Jung described the exit as amicable, and pointed to several internal moves the company is making to stabilize operations following the injection of $233 million in venture capital last year that funded several acquisitions. The changes during the transition period are aimed at preparing the company to go public. Whether an IPO actually takes place, Jung said, remains to be seen.
One of only a small group of local governments prepping their infrastructure for connected vehicles today, Miami-Dade County, Fla., is working on establishing vehicle-to-infrastructure connections by installing controllers at 300 key intersections. The first 2070LX controller was set up in August, and officials expect to blanket the county with the technology by fall 2017. Despite ever-increasing advances in vehicle connectivity and autonomy, even high-end passenger cars can’t yet connect to public infrastructure. This project ensures that Miami-Dade County will be ready when they can.
Image of Miami via Shutterstock.
The October merger
NovemberSeveral states have been granted limited extensions to the 2005 Real ID Act — a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission to standardize identification requirements — but time is running out. On Jan. 22, 2018, travelers or visitors to certain federal facilities must present an enhanced driver’s license, a passport or other TSA-approved document. Besides the financial burden that states must bear to comply with the act, elements of the law contradict state constitutions. In Oregon, for example, the motor vehicle agency cannot retain records for law enforcement purposes as required by the act.
As the contract award for the $7 billion First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) nears, stakeholders identified a number of questions that remain, including the nuts and bolts of how the network will be deployed and operated, as well as how much it will cost for participating agencies. The project, aimed at enabling nationwide interoperability among first responders, has had several early wins at the local level, where the concept has been tested at large-scale events like the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
The outcome of the presidential election just a few days later drew shock around the world, and those in the tech community were no exception. As many pondered its effects on federal tech policy and innovation programs like 18F and the USDS, others drew an interesting distinction that seemed to inspire public-sector innovators: “If you don’t like the outcome of the election (or if you do), this is a good time to remind yourself that politics isn’t government, and governing isn’t someone else’s problem,” wrote CfA Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka. “It’s ours.”
Jennifer Pahlka, executive director of Code for America, addresses the audience at the organization's annual summit in Oakland, Calif., on Nov. 2. Photo by Ben Miller/Government Technology.