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Article from Today's GCN as mentioned on the call this morning

From: Novak, Kevin <KevinNovak@aia.org>
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 2009 15:33:36 -0400
Message-ID: <7D3AB086C3D86347AE8225DE8190296B03E4E780@AIA-NT1.aia.org>
To: "eGov IG" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>


Below is the content from an article published on GCN today. I had
mentioned it on the bi-weekly call this morning. Let me know if you have
any questions.






W3C investigates possible e-Gov standards

By Joab Jackson

Government Computer News (Apr 01, 2009)



It used to be that a government agency's outreach department only had to
worry about posting information on that agency's Web site. Now, that
department has a variety of conduits it could use - ranging from
Twitter.com, YouTube.com and Facebook.com to mobile phones. To this end,
the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has started to develop the process
of developing a set of standards that governments could use for
harnessing these Web 2.0 and social networking technologies.


As a first step, the W3C eGovernment Interest Group (eGov IG) is
developing a draft paper, titled "Improving Access to Government through
Better Use of the Web," that describes the difficulties that agencies
now face with using the Web. It is the first step in developing a set of
standards that may help agencies execute Web-based multi-channel
delivery more effectively, said eGov IG co-chairman Kevin Novak.


The W3C is the organizational body that oversees the standards and
guidelines for the World Wide Web.


The paper is not supposed to offer solutions, but rather characterize
the issues that the governments are facing so that standards could be
developed if needed, Novak said. The paper is currently available open
for comment. "We're hoping to get more participation in what the final
[paper] will look like," Novak said. The group expects to post the paper
in its final form by mid-May.


To get more feedback, eGov IG held a workshop in Washington last month
to review the issues in the paper. At the meeting, attended by both
government and private-sector personnel, talk centered around a number
of reoccurring issues: To what the extent could commercial services,
such as Flickr, be relied on? What were the repercussions of government
officials using services such as Twitter to communicate? And, keeping
with federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra's call for open
government data, how could agencies expose their data in ways that would
make it useful for others?


Standards will be necessary for government to succeed in the world of
Web 2.0, Novak said. Someone at the workshop noted that the Web sites of
most of the Cabinet-level agencies would not pass validation tests for
proper use of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This is problematic,
Novak noted, because if the material is marked up correctly, it can then
be re-used by additional channels such as Facebook.


"You are actually compromising the information because it is not in a
format or structure that allows it to be proliferated everywhere in
needs to be in a way it should," he told GCN.


The draft paper ranges in scope from discussing how government employees
may interact with the citizenry through Web 2.0 technologies to more
technical considerations such as multichannel delivery, interoperability
among agencies and how data can be shared with the public. The draft
also has a collection of use-cases, including a number that involve
social networking technologies.


Although the W3C has not traditionally been involved in specific
subgroups of Web users, the standards body thought it was important to
address government domain. "We started this last year with the
recognition that governments had a multitude of unique needs that
weren't been addressed in the existing standards space. [We wanted to
address] what were the best approaches for them to get their services
out to their citizens" Novak said.


Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the basic Web protocols, has urged
government agencies in a recent talk to open data for greater use, not
only for the sake of transparency, but for greater use by outside


He noted that all too often government employees "are very sensitive to
keeping data. You're hugging your database, you don't want to let it go
until you make a beautiful web site for it ... I'd like to suggest to
give us the unadulterated data," he said.


The draft defines the concept "open government data," or data that is
published in "open raw formats and ways that make it accessible to all
and allow reuse, such as the creation of data mashups (mashups defined
as merging data from two or more different applications or data sources
and producing comparative views of the combined information)." It
suggests a number of technical approaches that agencies can make their
data more available, such as:


*         Publish it in xHTML, a formal subset of HTML that can
incorporate metadata about the purpose of the content. 

*         Publishing application programming interfaces (APIs), the
instructions on how an outside program can access data directly. 

*         Use really Simple Syndication (RSS) and Atom newsfeeds for
content that is routinely posted to the Web, such as job listings. 

*         Deploy the Representational State Transfer (REST), a protocol
used by web services-based systems to access data and functionality. 

*         Consider using the semantic technologies such as the Resource
Description Framework and the Semantic Web Query Language that can use
data more usable by encoding the data with additional contextual
information that could be used by other systems to reason about the



Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer



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, 1 April 2009 19:34:20 UTC

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