The 5 Most Important Technology Stories of 2011

What happened during the past 12 months that will reverberate in 2012 and beyond?

by / January 2, 2012

What happened during the past 12 months that will reverberate in 2012 and beyond? Identifying the events that truly mattered isn’t an easy exercise, but here are our choices for the technology news stories we think will have long-lasting impact on state and local government in the months and years ahead:

1. Los Angeles Nixes Plan to Add LAPD to Google Email

If nothing else, L.A.’s high-profile foray into cloud-based email illustrated the complexities and hidden obstacles of using cloud technology in the public sector. When the city agreed in 2009 to move all 30,000 city employees to Google’s cloud-based email and productivity suite, the trailblazing project sparked controversy that never subsided. The IT industry applauded L.A.’s willingness to utilize cloud computing, while skeptics raised concerns about the security of public data that would be managed offsite by a private company. In the end, L.A. chose the middle path. Because security requirements governing law enforcement data proved too problematic, the City Council decided in December that the Los Angeles Police Department (about 13,000 users) would stay on its existing email system, Novell GroupWise. Meanwhile, the rest of the city workers in other agencies have migrated to Google Apps.

2. White House Honors Unsung Open Data App Developers

After launching the open data movement several years ago, the Obama administration used this high-profile event to show off some of the movement’s results. Sixteen software developers were honored for their work at a White House reception, and the nation received a taste of what happens when you put meaningful data in the hands of entrepreneurial citizens.

3. State CIOs Are Finding Second Careers in Cities and Counties

One of the most significant trends in government IT over the past year or two is unprecedented movement of CIOs between various levels of government. Most visible is the nation’s CTO Aneesh Chopra, who is a former state CIO. But there’s significant mixing of state, federal and local IT leadership occurring throughout government, which can only help promote intergovernmental collaboration.

4. Facebook Modifies Terms of Service for State and Local Government

State and local governments gave the thumbs-up one year ago to changes made to Facebook’s terms of service, which officials said would pave the way for states and localities to foster richer citizen engagements via social media.

5. Google Picks Kansas City for Ultra High-Speed Broadband Network

It remains to be seen what eventually becomes of Google’s ambition to deploy and manage a 1 gigabit fiber network in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. But the fervor demonstrated by the 1,000 communities that vied to be named the company’s test case – through wacky online videos and other stunts – shows how much cities and counties want better broadband connectivity.

On page two, see our picks for stories No.6 to No. 20.

6. Missouri Sets, Then Repeals Teacher Social Media Restrictions

7. Congressional Bill Would Limit IT Worker Overtime Pay

8. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra Steps Down

9. New York City Appoints a Chief Digital Officer

10. Transit Authorities Jump Aboard $53 Billion Rail Plan

11. 2011’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers in Public Sector Innovation

12. Hawaii Seeks 1 Gbps Statewide Broadband Access by 2018

13. Microsoft and Google Trade Jabs on Cloud Security Credentials

14. Wireless Charging for Electric Vehicles a Reality, Researchers Say

15. ‘Drive-By’ Thermal Imaging Quantifies Energy Loss

16. Amazon Cloud Goes Down During Major Outage

17. Are Wind and Solar Energy Viable to Power Traffic Lights?

18. Canada to Close Nearly All Government Data Centers

19. Feds Creating Mobile Government Model for Agencies

20. Iris and Facial Scan Smartphone Nears Mass Release

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