CB2: Gov2.0 Begets Cool Tech

Adriel Hampton (@adrielhampton) kicked off today by writing a great post stating that “Gov2.0 is Not Cool Tech” . His idea is that a senator using an iPad doesn’t equal Gov2.0, but her use of it to collaborate in new ways with her constituents does. While Adriel.0 is on the money, the reality is that cool tech is a big part of the movement. Gov2.0 doesn’t require new technology, but new technology inspires and is inspired by Gov2.0.
Biblically speaking: cool tech begets Gov2.0, and Gov2.0 begets cool tech.

Take this Eye-Fi card for instance. On the surface, it’s an innovative (what’s that mean?) wi-fi powered SD camera card that enables you to quickly geotag and upload images from your digital camera to sites like Flickr without tethering it to your computer or removing the SD card. Once your digital camera gets near your home wireless router, it can start uploading the pictures on it without getting your laptop involved. It’s pretty brilliant and was intended to be the sole topic of my crisis blog today.
But to Adriel’s point, if a first responder used an Eye-Fi to upload pictures of his family online, well that’s not Gov2.0. What if he uploaded pictures of the station’s new fire engine for the town to see? Maybe a bit Gov2.0, but missing the gist.
What if after a damaging storm he uploaded pictures of damage throughout the town to a central destination, and encouraged the public to do the same to quickly assess what needs to be fixed throughout the city? To me, that’s Gov2.0.
While I’m not claiming that’s a revolutionary idea, how did I come think of that? I came up with the idea because when I think Gov2.0, my mind focuses on how cool technology can be used improve government. In that way, Gov2.0 is cool tech.

Now for those who love the tech, here’s how the above Eye-Fi for Crisis Response experiment turned out.
The equipment I used was a regular digital camera (Canon PowerShot), a Verizon MiFi card (creates a wireless hotspot anywhere for internet access) and an Eye-Fi Pro X2 card ($129). I could have used the 4GB $69 Geo X2, but I opted for the 8GB version. After a quick configuration on my PC to have the Eye-Fi detect my MiFi as a wireless network and upload shots to my Flickr account, I was ready to hit the field and start taking pictures.

While visiting my parents in the Philadelphia area this weekend, I stepped outside and took this shot of a tree that crashed through a roof (well, a picture of a picture for some added punch). As soon as I took the photo, the Eye-Fi card began uploading to Flickr (view album) via the MiFi card in my pocket. By the time I went back inside and looked at the laptop, it was not only online, but geotagged with a location just 100 ft from their house.

I tried the same thing later that night from a rooftop garage in center city. The upload worked perfectly as well, but without location this time. The location is determined by nearby wireless networks (read how in last week’s blog) and I guess there weren’t many near the parking garage. Still, the picture was up in a jiffy.


After a crisis, whether you have workers sending pictures back to base through a private Flickr album, or opening it up to residents with a public album, the Eye-Fi is one great way to get high quality photos to a central location for evaluation. What I like about this is while smart phones can do the same thing, I for one always wish I have a “real camera” for sending important pictures live from an event. Here’s your answer. Also exciting is that Eye-Fi announced an API (Application Programming Interface), meaning Gov2.0 developers like me could create government-specific applications that do things like upload pictures to private agency servers. Seems like a great project for FEMA.
Until next week with some more cool Gov2.0 tech!

Website of the Week: myGengo Language Translation

While you may have time to translate a brochure into multiple languages, time is something you don’t have during a crisis. What if you need to translate an emergency announcement in English, Spanish, French and Chinese ASAP? myGengo looks like an affordable way to get this done… annnnnd they have an API so you could integrate this with other crisis management dashboards and rock out the Gov2.0.

About Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett is a self-proclaimed emergency management innovator who is trying to make government better by improving citizen preparedness and crisis communications. He’s a graduate of Wharton with a master’s from Harvard with in “Technology, Innovation, Education.” His portfolio of companies and former projects include OneStorm Hurricane Preparedness, ReadyTown, GovLive, TexasPrepares and America’s Emergency Network. Chris was the recipient of FL Governor Crist’s 2008 Public Information Award. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL, loves to fish, and has been spotted sharing a pint with GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler in Tampa.

What does CB2 Mean? “Chris Bennett’s Crisis Blog.” It was originally CB Squared but the superscript 2 never took, so now we’re rocking the big 2.

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Adriel Hampton

Nice post! Agree that cool begets cool. My concern is just that the same politicians get points just for using new tech, without doing anything substantially different. Oh, the Senator uses e-mail and a cell phone!

Bernard D Tremblay (ben)

If you want a truly moving, heart-rending depiction of substance abuse you need only talk to junkie. Which isn’t to say that the person holds the key to health and well-being.

I find the same ironic dysfunction in the domain of social software generally and Gov2 specifically: while we can essay long on “attention economy”, and do, I see no actual appreciation for the dynamics involved. Most remarkable, most significant is that those who essay long on these matters show little appetite for implementation and deployment. What I know about tech R&D is that schmooze matters only slightly, and that only with regards to marketing.

Lots of sizzle; precious little beef! “Yes, they only fiddled while civil society collapsed, but they fiddled oh so well!”

HeyHo, and so it goes.

p.s. glasperlenspiel … “participatory deliberation” … guaranteed to trigger glazed eyes and yawns.

Jeremy Bertrand

Love the idea of that card! One of our favorite memory cards for emergencies is a memory card with a usb card reader. That way we can plug the cameras into any computer and upload them, at the scene of the emergency, and/or take the card back to have the photos uploaded for the public to view.

Angelo Serra

The card is a great idea, especially in those emergency situations where people are looking for information from Government, may even help insurance companies get a start on things prior to even coming on site. Something like this would have been beneficial in the recent gas explosion in California.

For me, the title seems a bit misleading – I have yet to see Gov 2.0 drive or create cool technology. I have seen instances (this article included) where cool technology has been purposed to drive a Gov 2.0 initiative or action. Granted, there may be some military implementations that I am unaware of that may fit in this category, but I haven’t seen anything in the civilian world.