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4 Political/Technology Predictions for 2010

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As we enter 2010, the impact that government is going to have on technology starts to come into focus. Two unlikely allies are driving one of the most significant changes in the way the public engages in public policy: Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg.

Prediction #1: The Obama administration's Year Two initiatives will increasingly focus on digital technology and broadband.

Obama, as the first president of either party to have a computer on his desk in the Oval Office, has been driving hard to put government data in the public sphere. The first Federal CTO, Aneesh Chopra, has been pushing government agencies to open their data streams to developers and the general public.

The impact of shifting from paper to bits is likely to expose some uncomfortable truth's about the effectiveness of government, and the way that Federal dollars are allocated. Already an eighteen million dollar effort to share the positive impact of the government recovery efforts, Recovery.org, was shown to be full of errors and false data as the public got to take a peek at how government sausages are made. But it doesn't appear that early missteps have discouraged the data transparency efforts.

Prediction #2:
Government Data Transparency will open new private/public sector opportunities in New York in 2010.

Meanwhile, on the heals of the success of New York's 311, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is zooming ahead to put city data in the hands of developers. The Mayor launched the NYC BigApps Competition, a contest for software developers and members of the public to create web or mobile applications using city data. The city opened 170 data sets to allow developers to build applications that will serve residents, visitors, businesses, and the public sector.

Already NYC Big Apps is turning up new ways to parse and present NYC data:

Apps like Make My Day expose NYC Free events.
Finding a school in New York is now easier with city school data presented like this.
And dog owners have access to city dog data (yes, there is dog data!) with the Big App nominee known as Hey Walkies.

Now, not all of the apps may be what the Mayor initially anticipated. For example, NYC Broken Meters helps drivers beat the city's revenue-generating parking meters by giving drivers GPS coordinates on a Google Map of all broken meters. Sweet. The folks at Gothamist crowed: "Of all the NYC Big Apps contenders, we think the NYC Broken Meters will be the most used and abused. The app uses the city's own data to locate broken meters, allowing users to score free parking!"

You can see all the applications, and vote for your favorite here.

Predication #3
Net neutrality will move to center stage

While government transparency is a good thing, and a game changer, that's not the only 2010 shift that's likely to impact the year ahead. Julius Genachowski is the newly confirmed FCC chairmen. And Genachowski is focused on a critical piece of the future of the web: openness.

Through the site Open Internet, Genachowski is looking hard at the Internet as a critical piece of both communications policy and democracy. And unlike other FCC chairs, Genachowski arrives in the gig as a carefully considered choice of a President who is an advocate of key elements of the web economy. So rather than protect fiefdoms, it's likely the FCC will lean hard toward open access -- and keep a close eye on any pricing schemes that choke bandwidth.

Prediction #4: FTC and FCC will let Comcast/NBC deal breeze through review process, M&A to pick up in 2010.

The corollary to this is that I'd put money down that the NBC/Comcast deal with sail through approvals at both the FTC and FCC. Why? Because it's hard to imagine who would oppose it, after all the other competitors are all looking at big deals of their own in the next 12 to 24 months -- so throwing up a roadblock on this deal won't help their cause. And for the FCC, having Comcast on both the pipe and the content side of the world makes it far harder for Comcast to look to restrict access to other content makers to their network.

Government is going digital, and 2010 will be a year where the bandwidth, software, and display technology provide for the first time a widely distributed opportunity to see eGovernement begin to take hold

Open data. Open government. Open Internet. 2010 is going to be a big year.

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