Government Technology

Lessons from the Past


February 28, 2007 By

Much of this issue focuses on the need to embrace wireless, broadband and other technologies to help communities better face their growing challenges. Communities must better identify these issues and get more inventive with new technologies to solve problems before they become crises.

We do this on many different fronts. However, in America over the last few years, we've jumped from crisis to crisis, learning lessons at a terrible cost after the fact. Look at the largest recent disasters: 9/11 and hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Each represents lack of foresight and failures in judgment.

If poor planning and delayed responses to disasters continue without proper reflection or afterthought, we're in for a rough ride over the next 50 years. It needn't be this way.

Perhaps I'm too optimistic, but I believe that most potential situations can be resolved with sufficient understanding and time -- but only if we work as true communities, assess priorities correctly, and make coordinated efforts to use technologies imaginatively and wisely. We must also harness our ingenuity to move science and technology forward for the benefit of all.

That's the overriding lesson history can teach us, something I was reminded of after learning more about the Battle of Britain in World War II when Nazi and British air forces fought over England's skies. It was the first time the Nazi war machine was stopped in its tracks. In these few months, Britain could've been defeated, but instead, the Nazis began to lose the war.

Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding's obsession with "early warning" systems, according to some historians, was crucial in winning the battle. He created a national network of observation posts manned 24/7 by volunteers. This and radar technology let his control rooms direct fighters toward enemy planes. Observers also had spotting scopes to find the position of attacking German planes -- something vital to preparing good counterattacks.

The posts effectively and simply harnessed existing technology. They were connected via a telephone network -- described by researchers as the first Internet. If parts of this communication system were removed, messages were rerouted to the main command until the network was re-established. In addition to British pilots' courage and sacrifice, and the ingenuity that let England build 250 planes a month, this effort also took foresight, leadership and a community approach.

Today's challenges are quite different. Beside learning from our failures, perhaps we can learn from past successes.

The notion behind Digital Communities is that through new communication technologies, we can make communities work better. So, we should be able to better assess looming problems before they become crises, and then together find effective solutions in a timely manner. The complex nature of many of these challenges means that no one sector, government included, can solve them alone.


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Meeting Constituents Where They Are With Dynamic, Real-Time Mobile Engagement
Leveraging the proven and open Kofax Mobile Capture Platform, organizations can rapidly integrate powerful mobile engagement solutions across the spectrum of mobile image capture, mobile data capture and complete mobile process integration. Kofax differentiates itself by extending capture to mobility, supporting multiple points of constituent engagement. Kofax solutions dynamically orchestrate the user’s mobile experience from a single platform—reducing time to market, improving process perf
Public Safety 2019
Motorola conducted an industry survey on the latest trends in public safety communications. The results provide an outlook of what technology is in store for your agency in the next five years. Download the results to gain this valuable insight.
Improving Emergency Response with Digital Communications
Saginaw County, Mich., increases interoperability, communication and collaboration with a digital voice and data network, as well as modern computer-aided dispatch.
View All

Featured Papers