Point of View: Charting a New Course

Election focuses world's attention on America.

by / October 1, 2008

A couple of months ago, athletes from around the world assembled in Beijing for the Olympic Games. Despite political undertones and a number of unsettling questions about the Chinese government, the games once again helped prove we share more in common than we're aware of. While few of us pay field hockey and trampoline gymnastics much attention in non-Olympic years, even these obscure sports show how a dream and determination can sometimes pay off.

In a similar spirit, this month's cover story is actually three stories about technology issues and how governments worldwide approach them. As different as cultures may be, from Canada to Australia and South Korea, some challenges cross borders and language -- and it's worthwhile to check in now and then to see what our international counterparts are up to.

Closer to home, fiscal realities continue to affect how governments conduct business. In this issue, Assistant Editor Matt Williams investigates how agencies can use open source solutions to achieve bigtime results without the bigtime price.

This issue also features the impressive account of one city's innovative approach to dealing with the dirtiest of problems. Jessica Hughes tells the tale of South Bend, Ind., and how city officials equipped the sewer system with Wi-Fi to better control wastewater when major storms roll through.

Of course, the big story in October is the run-up to the election. Throughout the year, we've covered the technology side of campaigns and presidential politics. Now there is little to do but wait and see what happens. Regardless of who wins, this election will be a turning point in our nation's history. And more so than ever before, the eyes of the world will be turned toward America and who we choose to lead us into the next decade of the 21st century.

Just as the Olympics are a quadrennial reminder of our shared stake in the human condition, the election of our next president serves as a chance to right past wrongs and chart a new course. [In this age of globalism, what we do in November will ripple around the world.] And we just might find that the more things change, the more we're all the same. Wouldn't that be a nice surprise?


Chad Vander Veen

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.

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