Friday, February 18, 2011

Mashed Bo Tay Toes

I am so ecstatic with the current state of technology and equally frustrated with it. Working with government agencies who are trying to create applications using old technology and procedures is a disappointing process. I know it is tough to stay on top of current technology with the speed at which it innovates but that is no reason to not try. Luckily for us these groups are starting to listen to their target audience about what is truly needed and what we can do without. That being said, the journey is still painful.

Current technologies can work so well together when mashed up utilizing free and open source APIs provided by companies that are coming up with the innovations. Being exposed to so many varied and powerful web technologies makes me a little biased regarding the current state of applications and sites we are forced to use to report data and set up campaigns. I am not saying that I have all the answers or even that my suggestions are all good but I would like to see each agency hire someone to assist them in determining a direction for their projects to go that would access current technologies, benefit end users and be easy to integrate for their programming staff.

A simple thing like grabbing the Google Maps API to integrate real world GPS coordinates into a data collection application to populate geographic routing information when we have to do mobile dispensation would be invaluable. Using the same API to create an efficient delivery route when you have all the addresses you need to distribute items to would also be outstanding.

Mashing up multiple applications to create a complete solution for a problem is the direction the government needs to be headed towards. Creating these one off applications that cannot even talk to each other even though they have overlapping data pools is outrageous and a huge waste of time and resources for their target populations. I know government is not the only group in this situation but with the reduction in staff and the threat to cut services it is the one that will affect the most people. If only they had started their planning for programs and applications with this in mind the cuts in staff would not have hurt so much.

Where we go from here is uncertain but I am hoping to work much closer with our various government agencies so we can get their systems talking to each other. This will reduce time and errors caused by multiple data entries for the same information as well as progressing towards usable solutions for staff and better serve the general population. At some point agencies may even progress to using HTML5 web applications that can be scaled and used across multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks and PCs.

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