Kundra to agencies: Get ready for data deluge

Agencies need to prepare for an explosion of new data over the next five years that will be created partly because of emerging Web 2.0 technologies, Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, told a conference in Washington..

"This notion of thinking about data in a structured, relational database is dead," Kundra said July 21 at the Open Government and Innovations Conference. "Some of the most valuable information is going to live in video, blogs and audio, and it is going to be unstructured inherently."

Electronic health records, for example, will transform the way people get health care and will generate new and varying pieces of data, Kundra said. "If you look at an iPhone and the ability to go out there and take a picture or video that is GPS coded, and upload it in real time has fundamentally changed the notion of the relationship between technology and us," he said.

Consumers adopting Web 2.0 technology will create great pressure on government agencies to provide services in terms the public is used to, Kundra said.

"Why is it that you can go online and compare hundreds and hundreds of flights, and make a booking within minutes, yet when you are looking for government services like student aid, it is more complicated than the IRS 1040 form?" Kundra said.

Federal policies and statutes, such as the Paperwork Reduction Act or the federal Internet cookies policy, must be re-evaluated to make it possible for agencies to fully embrace Web 2.0 technology, Kundra said.

The Paperwork Reduction Act was created in part to keep government from becoming too intrusive in people's lives. However, the law makes it difficult for agencies to use social media to solicit ideas and comments from the public, Kundra said.

"Technologies that exist today didn't exist at the time these statutes were being put in place," he said. "We actually just requested comments through the Federal Register and the Open Government blog on the cookies policy, for example."

Federal Computer Week's owner, the 1105 Government Information Group, sponsors the conference.

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