Flyzik: Another argument for IPv6

Editor's note: Apologies to Mr. Flyzik for the delays in publishing this column. At least this week's wintry weather is somewhat reminiscent of the context in which he originally wrote it. And his point, of course, is timeless.

It’s February 13, 2007. I’m sitting here in my home office watching the snow and “wintry mix” outside the window while writing this article. I decided to write the piece because, with several meetings canceled due to weather, I had some extra time for paperwork. I’ll have a very productive day with my newfound time.

I then thought about my friends in government and remembered what these days were like for me in the past: Delays, frustrations and traffic hassles while getting to work. A late arrival, only to hear schools are dismissed early -- now need to coordinate with working spouse about the kids getting home safely. Snow turning to ice and freezing rain means a nightmare ahead for the commute home. Everyone at the office is talking about the weather. Not a lot of productive work getting done. It makes me think: What if?

What if the director of the Office of Personnel Management went on TV and radio early this morning and declared today a “virtual office” workday? With a couple of keystrokes on the agency’s IPv6 networks, all government employee home computers, PDAs, cell phones and future information appliances are reconfigured to be their work equipment.

Just like that, all federal employees are at work from wherever their location happens to be. There are no cables to move, no army of IT staff necessary to make it happen. The added security features of IPv6 and broadband connections allow videoconferences versus physical meetings. Collaborative IT tools allow online coordination of key issues.

Think about the benefits. Energy savings, as IPv6-enabled network sensors turn down the electricity, gas and lights at the office. Roads get cleared because traffic is greatly reduced. Parents are available to be sure kids get home safely from early school dismissal. Federal employees have a productive day and get more done, since they have more time at the “virtual office” rather than sitting in traffic delays.

IPv6 makes this all very easy to do.

I think I’ll look out the window at the snow and wintry mix and think, what if?

Flyzik is a consultant and chairman of the Information Technology Association of America’s Homeland Security Committee. Before leaving government in 2002, he was vice chairman of the CIO Council and chief information officer at the Treasury Department.

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