Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Category Archives: E-Government

Web Index Annual Report 2014

WebIndexReport 2014-15

“Growing inequality is one of the defining challenges of our time. What role can the World Wide Web play in tackling it? Seven out of 10 people live in countries where the gap between rich and poor is greater than it was 30 years ago, according to Oxfam research. In some countries these disparities are reaching levels last seen before the Great Depression. Inequality topped the World Economic Forum’s annual survey of global risks this year, while the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine LaGarde, recently warned that rising inequality is choking economic growth, and leaving “a wasteland of discarded potential” in its wake. This discarded potential is the most damaging effect of inequality, eroding the chance for people to make a better life for themselves and making poverty a permanent trap passed on from parents to children. The Web’s power to help restore equality of opportunity is clear. Twenty-five years ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN took a momentous decision not to patent the Web, which led to a remarkable democratisation of its capabilities. Today, armed with little more than a smartphone, anyone — regardless of where they were born or how much they earn — can start a business, record a music video, crowdfund an invention, take courses with Nobel Prize-winning professors, or even launch a successful campaign for office. As the examples of Korea, Brazil, Estonia and Iceland demonstrate, the Web has three critical contributions to make to fighting inequality:

  • Expanding access to knowledge, information and skills
  • Enabling wider political participation and voice
  • Lowering barriers for small and micro-enterprise to innovate, compete and succeed

But we can’t take the equalising power of the Internet for granted. Current trends suggest that we now stand at a crossroads between a Web “for everyone”, which strengthens democracy and creates equal opportunity for all, or a “winner takes all” Web that further concentrates economic and political power in the hands of a few. Already, overall scores for the Web’s contribution to development and human rights are strongly correlated with wealth. The higher a country’s per capita income, the higher its Web Index ranking. In part, this is because access is still heavily skewed to those living in high-income countries. An estimated 4.4 billion people — mostly poor, female, rural and living in developing countries — have no access to the Internet at all.

  • While Internet use has soared from around 45% to 78% in high-income countries since 2005, in low-income countries it has remained below 10% year after year. Internet penetration grew by only one percentage point per year from 2011-2013 in low-income countries. (ITU)
  • In the poorest countries, the relative costs of basic Internet access remain over 80 times higher than in the rich world — while Internet use is 10 times lower.”

NOAA Climate Resilience Toolkit

“Meeting the challenges of a changing climate – The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit provides scientific tools, information, and expertise to help people manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events. The site is designed to serve interested citizens, communities, businesses, resource managers, planners, and policy leaders at all levels of government. AContinue Reading

California drought, visualized with open data

USGS News release: ” A newly released interactive California Drought visualization website aims to provide the public with atlas-like, state-wide coverage of the drought and a timeline of its impacts on water resources. The U.S. Geological Survey developed the interactive website as part of the federal government’s Open Water Data Initiative. The drought visualization page features high-techContinue Reading

Data Brokers and Your Privacy

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Posted September 2014, Revised September 2014: “Technological advances allow us to do many useful things and to simplify our daily tasks.  The flip-side of these advances in technology is the unprecedented ability to collect, store, manipulate, and disseminate virtually unlimited amounts of data about people.  Numerous companies known as data brokers have entered thisContinue Reading

Investigative Report Claims NSA Hacking of Cellphone Networks Is Global

Ryan Gallagher – The Intercept: “The AURORAGOLD operation is carried out by specialist NSA surveillance units whose existence has not been publicly disclosed: the Wireless Portfolio Management Office, which defines and carries out the NSA’s strategy for exploiting wireless communications, and the Target Technology Trends Center, which monitors the development of new communication technology to ensureContinue Reading

How US state governments can improve customer service

A McKinsey Center for Government survey finds that Americans are often dissatisfied with state services—and identifies significant opportunities for improvement. “Technological advances such as smartphones and apps have opened new frontiers of convenience, speed, and transparency for private-sector customers. At the same time, tightening government budgets are making it difficult for the public sector toContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Children’s Health Insurance, Federal Data Transparency, VA Health Care, Broadband Internet

Children’s Health Insurance: Cost, Coverage, and Access Considerations for Extending Federal Funding, GAO-15-268T: Published: Dec 3, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 3, 2014. Federal Data Transparency: Effective Implementation of the DATA Act Would Help Address Government-wide Management Challenges and Improve Oversight, GAO-15-241T: Published: Dec 3, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 3, 2014. VA Health Care: Improvements Needed to ManageContinue Reading

Diabetes State Atlas Now Available Online

“CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation announces the launch of the Diabetes State Atlas (available athttp://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data), an interactive Internet tool for the public to view maps and charts of diabetes data and trends at the U.S. state level. Some of the features of the atlas include 1) customizable maps and graphics of diabetes surveillance data, 2)Continue Reading

Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013

“For many Americans, access to computers and high-speed Internet connections has never been more important. We use computers and the Internet to complete schoolwork, locate jobs, watch movies, access healthcare information, and find relationships, to name but a few of the ways that we have grown to rely on digital technologies. Just as our Internet activities have increased, so too haveContinue Reading

Text of the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014

NARA – “On November 26, 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1233, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. This new law modernizes records management by focusing more directly on electronic records, and complements efforts by the National Archives and the Office of Management and Budget to implement the President’s 2011Continue Reading

Search engine for the Internet of Things

“Thingful® is a search engine for the Internet of Things, providing a unique geographical index of connected objects around the world, including energy, radiation, weather, and air quality devices as well as seismographs, iBeacons, ships, aircraft and even animal trackers. Thingful’s powerful search capabilities enable people to find devices, datasets and realtime data sources byContinue Reading

EPIC Uncovers DOD Student Recruiting Database Privacy Protections

“The Department of Defense has released to EPIC documents on the “Joint Advertising and Market Research Studies” Recruiting Database. The database includes sensitive student information, including home address and grade point average. DOD obtains this information from high schools offering military aptitude tests, state DMVs, and commercial data brokers. The documents sought by EPIC shedContinue Reading