Back to the Future: From Industry to Technology

Feb 3, 2016 • Brandon Pugh

It’s no secret that we have transitioned into an age of technology. We are now able to instantly access and share information from almost anywhere in the world. A large number of businesses have either evolved and adapted to use technology, or have closed their doors. Devices like fax machines and even home phone are being used less and less. Its now possible to live, learn, work and shop from the comfort of you own couch if you so choose. The bottom line is, technology has the power to make communication faster, easier, and more efficient.

Government agencies have a reputation for not moving at the speed we are becoming accustomed to, and there is often a good basis for this reputation. There are entities that still rely heavily on physical paper documentation to approve requests. Processes that were implemented long before some of the technological advancements we have today are still the standard. The American Public Human Services Association describes human services, or providing “for the ‘general welfare’ of the nation” as “one of the most critical roles government plays in our society.” As time goes on, these services will become more challenging to administer and the system will eventually fail. The good news is that in lots of cities around the world people are coming together to pull their local government into the age of technology.

One of the first Code for America projects that I became familiar with came from Code for Honolulu. Honolulu Answers provides a way for residents to conduct a Google-like search for answers about city services. It’s open source, which means that anyone can use the code to create a similar resource anywhere they see a need for it. Like Oakland for example. The idea that you could help improve interaction between government and citizens to improve quality of life in your local region was empowering.

Technology has provided me with a renewed faith in the idea of government by the people, for the people. If we truly seek change, we must realize that the power lies in our hands. Whether it be creating an app like WICit, participating with a local organization or simply providing insight into issues that you face in your own neighborhood, we all have the power and opportunity to improve the way government works for us.

Cited: APHSA- Government’s Role