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Open Source and Mobile Apps Are on Government Radar

Collaboration and social media are also grabbing government attention.

by / April 19, 2012

As this issue of Government Technology goes to press, we’re in the middle of reinventing ourselves — and you should be too. It’s clear that what we’ve historically defined as “Government Technology” is on the cusp of major transformation, driven by social and collaborative technologies, as well as growing intelligence and connectivity in the world around us.

Ever since the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy, state and local IT leaders have relentlessly focused on consolidation and efficiency. Efficiency is important — and state and local consolidation efforts surely rooted out wasteful duplication and poor practices. But the retrenching can’t continue forever. The future belongs to innovators — those focused on harnessing mobile, collaborative, data-driven technologies to make government programs more effective and communities more successful.

The evolution is reflected in the content of this month’s magazine.

For instance, we talked to states and cities about the types of mobile apps they intend to deploy and which platforms they’ll support and about how to support a successful mobile app strategy. These likely are questions many of you are asking too. Nearly 40 percent of agencies plan to deploy a new mobile app for citizens in the next 12 months, according to survey data from the GovTech Exchange, our new online community of senior-level IT professionals in state and local government.

We also looked at the growing popularity of the open source Drupal CMS, which now powers some of the nation’s biggest public-sector websites. As the story points out, the software’s modular design lets agencies use the solution for almost any size deployment — with less expense and fewer licensing hassles than proprietary products. The story explores why Drupal is being adopted in states and federal agencies and gives an example of how innovative IT leaders are moving toward new software acquisition and development models.

Finally, we looked at what could be the start of something very big in the Chicago area. In March, a joint effort between the city, the state of Illinois and Cook County resulted in the debut of, a clearinghouse where all public data is available for free. The new site could be a tremendous resource for developers, who’ll be able to create apps based on comprehensive data that can be used anywhere in the region.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for big data in government. You can expect more of these collaborative initiatives as governments seek to tap into innovative developer communities and wring more intelligence out of the data they collect.

As Government Technology magazine nears its 25th anniversary in November, we’re busy thinking about the implications of these trends and what they mean — for you and us. We’ll have more to say about that in the months ahead. But one thing is clear: We’re looking forward to a mobile, collaborative and data-driven future.  


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Steve Towns Executive Editor
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