Dems: Broadband policy crucial but so-far nonexistent

John McCain can't get online without his wife's help, but the storyline is that doesn't matter because as former chair of the Commerce Committee, McCain is intimately familiar with tech policy issues.At panels at the Demo Convention today, Democrats assailed that argument, saying that, ""On McCain's watch, the U.

John McCain can't get online without his wife's help, but the storyline is that doesn't matter because as former chair of the Commerce Committee, McCain is intimately familiar with tech policy issues.

At panels at the Demo Convention today, Democrats assailed that argument, saying that, ""On McCain's watch, the U.S. fell from third to fifteenth in broadband penetration," in the words of Julius Genachowski, technology advisor to Barack Obama. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Republican support for a broadband policy is nonexistent.

The Obama campaign is the broadband campaign and the McCain campaign is the dial-up campaign. You know in your hearts that in eight years, there was never one conversation in the Oval Office between Dick Cheney and George Bush on broadband policy," Markey said. "That … should frighten you."

Done properly, technology could vastly improve access to government services. Andrew McLaughlin, Google's senior director of global public policy, said the time is now for Government 2.0:

The government needs its own social networking environment, open APIs, and adequate search functions to allow for easier information sharing, he said. For $150,000, a "trivial amount of money" when it comes to average government spending, McLaughlin said, officials could flip open a laptop and access information like GPS on police cars, floor plans of schools and government buildings, and power line locations.

If that's going to happen, government will have to adopt a "customer-centric point of view," said Kathryn Brown, SVP for Verizon.

I don't think that exists right now. Budgets have to change, people have to change, and expertise has to be added to the process."

And, gosh, the government is going to need to embrace openness and a commitment to serving citizens if it's going to attract the young CS workers it "so deparately needs," Brown added.

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