W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-egov-ig@w3.org > September 2008

FCW Article and Our Answers to the Questions

From: Novak, Kevin <KevinNovak@aia.org>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 13:18:37 -0400
Message-ID: <7D3AB086C3D86347AE8225DE8190296B0167B1ED@AIA-NT1.aia.org>
To: <public-egov-ig@w3.org>


Below is the link to the recent FCW article that Jose and I mentioned on
the last call. Additionally, below are the responses we submitted to the





Thought you all would be interested in the final product. Note as a
result (maybe indirectly) we have had a significant amount of interest
in our work on the IG with many new participants joining either the
group or mailing lists.


Will post to the WIKI when able. Let me know if you have any comments or








[one answer to first two questions]


* What do government agencies typically see as the benefits of using  

mashups? Does it allow them to do things they couldn't do before or  

couldn't do cost effectively before (integration via EAI tools, for  



* Are governments mostly focusing on Web data in their mashups or are  

they incorporating enterprise data (from ERP and other internal  

systems) as well?


Government agencies have not seriously considered mashups on a  

coordinated level yet. The agencies are challenged with exposing data  

from applications or creating applications to display data. Resourcing  

of personnel and funding have not allowed for a focus on providing  

mashups (mashups defined as merging data from two or more different  

applications or data sources and producing comparative views of the  

combined information). The government agencies are also challenged in  

finding other agencies or organizations where regulations or  

government policy (in addition to the lack of resources) will allow  

the sharing/exchange of information which would lead to a useful  

mashup. A typical application mashup requires the use of APIs with  

data available via XML, most of the agencies have not yet considered  

the consistent or holistic use of XML across applications or data  

repositories, not to mention other open formats like RDF. The age of  

systems varies significantly and, at times, the proprietary nature of  

the systems and applications offers further challenges with providing  

access to the data needed for a mashup.


It is often not within the mission of an agency to provide sets of  

information from other agencies or different sources. The information  

is made available online through the Web for easy access and  

consumption and within the parameters of FOIA or other policies. A few  

third sector organizations have taken government information and  

provided views into joined data sources to meet public needs or other  

objectives which show the potential these mashups could have.  

Unfortunately, these organizations have to use that data in the way  

it's published, usually in HTML or in proprietary formats.


Even though, there are several examples like that in which the  

congressional voting record from THOMAS was joined with the campaign  

finance records to demonstrate the instances where members of Congress  

voted on issues or items that were of interest to their supporters.  

Providing this type of information in this particular view would not  

be within the mission of a government agency to provide.


With the evolution of government services on the Web, we are  

experiencing an important change from the simply informative  

eGovernment services in the early days to, more frequently, today's  

interactive and transactional ones. Developing information for the  

sole purpose of putting it on the Web as an informative resource,  

although important and required by policies in many cases, is not  

enough anymore when citizens and civil societies are asking for access  

to the raw data. Publishing the raw data in open accessible formats  

should be a new goal for the agencies and they should get enough  

incentive to do so. Vast improvement of data integration between  

disparate systems and flourishing of services like the one mentioned  

above are just some of the benefits the unexpected reuse of that  

information would bring.



* What challenges do agencies face in employing mashup technology (IT  

security risks, for example)? Any thoughts on best practices for  

building mashups?


Agencies are faced with having to ensure that the information and  

other data that they provide remains the authoritative source of the  

information and data. By providing access to data via XML or other  

methods to others for display in mashups releases control and  

management of the data outside of the responsible agency, which is a  

concern. The information (barring any legal agreement between the  

agency and the entity to preserve the data) can no longer be  

considered authoritative given the agency can no longer be sure that  

the data has maintain its original nature. Citizens seeking  

information from the Web more often than not consider most sources  

they find to be the authoritative source of information. Many believe  

if something is listed in Wikipedia or a search engine, then it should  

be authoritative. If agencies freely provide their information for use  

in mashups without knowing the end use or intent and which may show up  

merged into a mashup, then they believe they are apparently  

contributing to the concept that most information on the Web is  

authoritative when in reality it is not. If the information sources  

are managed by the agency and the mashups are provided by the agency,  

then the authoritative nature of the information/data can be  

maintained and preserved.


It's difficult to find the right balance but we believe the benefits  

outnumber the risks. If agencies are to proceed in adopting mashups  

within their organizations and/or across the government and/or with  

third parties, best practices, policies, and procedures will be needed  

to ensure the information and data's authoritative nature is preserved  

when necessary. Government agencies, like any organization, need to  

look to W3C or other standards organization for best practices,  

lessons learned, and strategies.





Kevin Novak

Vice President, Integrated Web Strategy and Technology

The American Institute of Architects

1735 New York Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20006


Voice:   202-626-7303

Cell:       202-731-0037

Fax:        202-639-7606

Email:    kevinnovak@aia.org

Website: www.aia.org




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Received on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 17:19:25 UTC

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