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FCW Insider: FCW-WFED radio show notes...talking Virtual Alabama

I'm again behind on posting our FCW-WFED radio show... and this one is a good one.

Anybody who has been anywhere near me for the past few weeks has heard me go on (and on and on ) about the Alabama Department of Homeland Security's remarkable program Virtual Alabama. (I have pulled together links to stories about Virtual Alabama on a Delicious page at del.icio.us/cdorobek/virtualalabama.)

For both of you who have somehow missed me go on about it, Virtual Alabama is essentially a mash-up on a Google Earth platform. (It is important to note that Alabama purchased a enterprise version of Google Earth, so all of the information resides on Alabama servers. Google Earth simply provides the platform, but the company does not have access to any of the data.) And, for those of you would aren't hip to the Web 2.0 lingo -- and good for you, frankly -- a mash-up is simply a term for overlaying data on a map. We can forget how powerful that is, but... if you are at work and you are looking for the closest gas station, you can look at a series of addresses and they don't really tell you anything, but look at them on a map and... presto! It is like magic. You suddenly have all kinds of information at your fingertips. That is essentially what Alabama has done -- put information at the fingertips of first responders. In military speak, it is called "situational awareness" -- and that describes it, getting awareness of a situation before you get there. So Virtual Alabama allows first responders to get access to information about fire hydrants, properties, neighboring fire departments... and it pulls it all together in one place. Very powerful stuff.

We had the Virtual Alabama team on the radio show that we do, which airs on Federal News Radio AM 1050. The show airs live Tuesday at 10 a.m. But I have reposted the show below.
(NOTE: You need to get five minutes in before the program actually starts.)

One of the great things about my job is that when I find something that I like, well... I assume you will be fascinated too. So we put Virtual Alabama on the cover of the magazine a few weeks ago and did a story on the program.

I keep talking about Virtual Alabama because I think it is a demonstration of collaboration and a wonderful can-do attitude. They just did it.

I sometimes get concerned that I will over-hype the program, but everybody who sees it just comes away just saying, "Wow!" And then people's minds start tapping into all the stuff that they could do if they had such a tool... all the stuff that could be done with such a tool... all the other data that can be tapped into... And, frankly, people start pondering about all the data that is out there... on them! Ah, the wholistic world -- privacy is connected to security is connected to collaboration.

And the remarkable thing is that they built the whole thing with less than $500,000 and four people. Talk about getting some bang for your bucks.

As I said, I have pulled Virtual Alabama links together on my delicious social bookmarking page, but... some Virtual Alabama reading:

* FCW's cover story on Virtual Alabama.
* The FCW Insider's first blog post about Virtual Alabama.
* GCN's April 2007 story about Virtual Alabama, headlined, Geospatial for the cheap
* GCN Editor-in-Chief Wyatt Kash's April 2007 take on Virtual Alabama, headlined, Seeing is believing
* The National Academy of Public Administration's Collaboration Project overview of Virtual Alabama.
* Information from Google on Virtual Alabama.

The radio show gives you some insight about the program, but if you get a chance to check it out, I highly recommend it.

Previous FCW radio programs...

May 20, 2008 talking collaboration with NAPA's Collaboration Project
May 27, 2008 talking mobile computing.
June 2, 2008 talking Enterprise 2.0 with Harvard Business School Associate Prof. Andrew McAfee.

Upcoming shows...

On future shows... the feature in the 06.16 issue is about COOP, so on Tuesday, June 17 at 10 a.m. EST on Federal News Radio, we're going to talk COOP. (I'd still love to hear how things went Friday with the power outage -- how did agencies communicate with people?) The following week, on June 24, we're talking to EPA CIO Molly O'Neill, who I have had the opportunity to get to know over the past year and is one of the best and the brightest.

Hear all of FCW's radio programs at www.fcw.com/radio.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jun 16, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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