Technology initiatives we should demand from the Obama administration

Technology initiatives we should demand from the Obama administration

Summary: As much as many of us would like to continue to revel in the day, the inauguration with all of its rock-concert fanfare, pomp and circumstance is over, and it is finally time for the new administration to get to work.



As much as many of us would like to continue to revel in the day, the inauguration with all of its rock-concert fanfare, pomp and circumstance is over, and it is finally time for the new administration to get to work. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, enters office during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with our financial institutions and key industries failing, with millions of Americans in fear of losing their jobs and livelihood, and at a time when our nation is engaged in a highly unpopular war, while the ever-present threat of terror still continues to instill fear in all of our citizens.

Also See: Obama Sets Technology Agenda (Zack Whittaker)

These challenges alone should be more than enough to address for any administration. But in the grand tradition of politicians promising far more than what they are capable of delivering on in any single term of office -- and as this is a technology news site -- I'm going to propose a number of technology initiatives which the Obama administration (which seeks to become more "connected" than any other before it) should set as goals to accomplish during two terms of office. Unlike many of the remaining 47 percent of the country who didn't see their preferred candidate take the oath, I'm willing to cut the new President some slack, even though I didn't vote for him.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Ubiquitous Broadband rollout to the entire country's infrastructure

As I wrote in a previous piece on the harsh realities of suburban broadband, and from the nature of the followups in the talkbacks, high-speed Internet is still not accessible by a very large portion of Americans, which is estimated to be nearly 50 percent of the population, according to results released in May of 2008  by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation . The Obama administration should provide development incentives to major telecommunications firms,  CLECs and other last-mile ISPs so that every American, with the means to do so, can get affordable DSL, Cable, Fiber, or even alternative forms of Internet broadband, such as Wi-Max and power-line based access.

Ubiquitous and Low-Cost Computing for the entire country

Citizens should be provided tax incentives for purchasing inexpensive new or refurbished computers, particularly those in low income brackets. Should the post-inaugural motto of the new administration be "a netbook in every pot"? Perhaps the administration should consider approaching industry into combining cloud computing for low income families with the previously mentioned broadband initiative, using thin multimedia-capable terminals that could be produced by any number of manufacturers according to an open specification created by a specially formed consortium of industry. Instead of an "OLPC", this would be "One Terminal Per Family" (OTPF) but without the pitfalls of a misguided not-for-profit. Allow private industry to compete and build the most cost-effective and highest performing solution, with best-of-breed Open Source and Proprietary software.

Green Computing and Green Datacenter tax incentives for all businesses.

Part of the platform which helped President Obama get elected was his intention to try to get this country off fossil fuels, reduce our dependance on foreign oil, and to make our nation a better world citizen by reducing our cumulative carbon footprint. It should seem natural then to extend this platform to reward enterprises with tax and other financial incentives which contribute to this mission that invest in new datacenters and other new infrastructure which consume less energy.

Furthermore, these incentives could be expanded to American (and dare I say it, foreign) hardware manufacturers which produce consumer electronics and computing equipment which are "Green", and to companies that provide clouded infrastructure as a computing alternative for small and medium businesses as well as private citizens that would otherwise have to host their own systems which would consume unnecessary wattage, as per the Low-Cost Computing initiative above.

Ubiquitous Access to Digital Television

In the weeks before his inauguration, the then President-Elect Obama made a last-minute call to Congress in an attempt to stall the Digital TV transition in February, perhaps because he knew something that many Americans do not -- which is like the broadband problem mentioned earlier, and despite years of planning and rollout in all of the key US television markets, many families are unable to receive a good over-the-air Digital TV signal.

The problem is particularly severe in rural areas that are 40-50 miles or more from a major metropolitan area, as the UHF carrier signal that Digital TV uses degrades more severely than the VHF analog signal it is replacing (particularly in bad weather, as rain and snow particles show up as a bigger percentage of its smaller wavelength). Citizens who had good VHF signal in marginal areas may now find they have no UHF reception at all, as VHF transmitted power can be as much as 5 times the amount that the UHF/digital power is. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why why VHF was chosen over UHF as the primary TV band many years ago. DBS-based Satellite television such as DirecTV and DishNetwork are still too expensive for most private citizens, so we need a better solution.

As areas with  poor Digital TV signal seem to go in concert with those that are unable to receive broadband Internet, a national initiative to get Cable and Fiberoptics to the last mile would kill two birds with one stone.

Ubiquitous Electronic Access to Medical Records by Healthcare Providers

Making all patient medical records electronic would help reduce costs and streamline secure information sharing among providers. It would eliminate the constant faxing and transcribing of records and provide a secure platform by which the relevant confidential patient information would only be presented to the caregivers who really need to know.

We already have the foundations for such a system in VistA, the (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture) employed by the Veteran's Administration, and patient record privacy in HIPPA. The Obama administration should seek to combine these two initiatives so that every medical office, be it the smallest family doctor with private practices in small towns in rural America to the 1000 bed plus hospitals in our largest cities are able to share patient information when it is most critically needed.

Are there other technology-oriented initiatives that the Obama administration should seek to adopt? Talk Back and Let me know.

Topics: Mobility, Broadband, CXO, Hardware, Health, Networking, Telcos, IT Employment


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Obama = Socialism...

    Good luck with that, he is going to tax the living daylights out of the middle class to 'spread' the wealth to people who do not work.

    Just wait, when summer hits and electricity is mega expensive we will see how wonderful he is....
    • Just wait...?

      Just wait...? Wait for what? So basically you are saying that you don't have [b]any[/b] proof of the tripe you are spewing, but that it will become true at some point in the future.

      You make such a convincing argument!
    • and they're going attempt to tell Detroit how to build cars

      that no one will want. Green power is a joke, solar and wind won't put a dent in our energy needs and will cost a fortune.
      • Since when does Detroit know how to build cars? nt

        • Since ford started the industry

          And made diesel engines that get 65mph
          • Evironmental laws prohibit the 65mpg diesel in USA

            Thanks to the EPA NO way Ford can sell the 65mpg diesel...

            The entire Global Warming deal is a LIE, it is about lowering
            your living standards to that of the 3rd world.

            Government control and only the elites can ride around in
            Suburbans and YOU need to walk to work, do without A/C and
            have NO personal freedom.


      • You missed conservation

        Conservation along with solar and wind can meet quite a bit of our needs. We need to give consumers incentives to buy more energy efficient appliances.

        You are right on the part of telling Detroit what to build. Detroit built the cars that people wanted and that would generate a profit for them. Washington also needs to learn that you can legislate innovation. Until someone comes up with a battery that can store more energy, electric cars will just be teeny, tiny part of the auto market.
        • Solar can meet ALL our needs

          There's a new sterling engine powered solar generator that is cheap to build and operates at 31% efficiency.
          • energy of incident sunlight is

            1 kilowatt per square meter. A typical automobile engine requires 100 kilowatts peak power and about 25 kw continuous power. At 31%, you need 300 square meters to accelerate your car, and 75 square meters to maintain cruising speed. In full sunlight. In death valley.

            Stick your fingers in your ears and shout until you're blue in the face. The facts of physics won't change to accommodate your dreams of utopia.
        • You can't legislate innovation...

          ...people need incentives. Taxing productivity and using the money to reward non-producers will certainly eliminate incentives to innovate.

          Conservation??? By all means, we must sacrafice for the good of the _____(you fill in the blank--State, Regime, Planet, etc). A little too Marxist for me. Let's be realistic--fossil fuels currently provide more than 85% of the energy consumed in the US. Wind & solar combined is less than 5%. 95% is a BIG gap to fill with conservation. Perhaps we should be looking at nuclear...
          J Galt
    • Since when is $250K/yr middle class? nt

      • depends on your city

        In NYC $250K doesn't make you rich. I'm sure there are other similar cities where that kind of money doesn't go that far.
      • Well, what IS $250k?

        It's certainly not ultra-rich. Especially if that
        $250k is from a small business. Oh, I suppose if your
        job skills afford you a position that requires the
        phrase "would you like to supersize that" then $250k
        sounds way beyond middle-class.

        The thing leftists never ask is, "what did it take for
        that person to achieve that income, and what entitles
        someone who does less than that to receive a portion
        of someone else's work?"
        • YOU will give your hard earned money away!

          Get ready for TAXES and HIGH fuel cost, don't think about
          touching the A/C thermostat, cause you can't afford it
          or you will not be able to with coal tax on powerplants...

          Good luck, get ready for companies downsizing, and reducing
          cost and cutting jobs.

          NO company can be taxes heavily and not cut jobs,
          welcome to state funded slums.
          • No, welcome to EUROPE

            Now please, get off the open source bandwagon and realize what you're protesting is EXACTLY WHAT THE MAIN BODY OF THE OPEN SOURCE MOVEMENT LIVES UNDER AND PROFESSES.
      • Since when is it any of your d@mn business

        and that's 90% of our problem right there. Envious people enthusiastic to use the power of the state to take from those who have more than they do.
        • Off the deep end, again

          Geeze, the old P-envy shtick. Can't you come up with anything more original or better yet, more truthful ?
          Hemlock Stones
        • Nothing you can do except vote!

          The future is uncertain and now is a precarious position now
          with taxes looming for anyone who works 'middle class' that is
          now $45,000 in reality I am sure people will be lining up
          to pay $5 for gas with off-shore drilling banned and $500
          a month for cooling during the summer.

          So much for turning on the home pc or if you can affrod to
          use a fan....
          • The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

            Hey Chicken Little, give it a break. You're no fortune teller. Where was your whiny attitude when the previous president cut taxes while tripling spending? There's a HUGE difference between "tax & spend" and "cut taxes and increase spending". At least ONE of those models makes some economic sense.
    • And FOSS is software communism!