The Next Wave

The Next Wave: Using Digital Technology to Further Social and Political Innovation

Darrell M. West
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 219
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt1281bm
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  • Book Info
    The Next Wave
    Book Description:

    The digital revolution is in full force but many public and private sector leaders are stymied: How can they maximize the full potential of digital technology? This hesitancy puts a brake on the transformational power of digital technology and means private companies and governmental bodies fall well behind other digital pioneers.

    Darrell West focuses on the next wave of technologies and how they can further enhance U.S. social and political innovation. West champions exploiting technological advances to help organizations become faster, smarter, and more efficient. Consumers can deploy new digital technology to improve health care, gain access to education, learn from the news media, and check public sector performance. New storage platforms such as high-speed broadband, mobile communications, and cloud computing enable and improve both social and economic development. However, to gain these benefits, policymakers must recognize the legitimacy of public fears about technology and the privacy and security dangers posed by the Internet. Their goal must be to further innovation and investment while also protecting basic social and individual values.

    West argues that digital technology innovation is consistent in many ways with personal and social values; people can deploy digital technology to improve participation and collaboration, and political leaders can work with the private sector to stimulate a flowering of innovation in a variety of policy areas.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2189-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE A FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS
    (pp. 1-12)

    A HEATED DEBATE OVER NEW technology unfolded on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1930. Some senators were incensed because the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company wanted to replace operator-assisted phones with a new device called the rotary dial telephone. Rather than using a human operator to place a call, legislators would have to dial their own calls.

    Senator Carter Glass complained that dial phones were overly complicated and “difficult to operate.” Senator Clarence Dill also commented on the difficulty in using the new phones: “One has to use both hands to dial,” he lamented. In addition, users “must...

  5. I. TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION

    • CHAPTER TWO IMPROVING GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE
      (pp. 15-25)

      AMERICAN PUBLIC SECTOR PERFORMANCE LEAVES much to be desired. A 2010 CNN/Opinion Research survey, for example, has found that 86 percent of Americans believe the federal government is broken.¹ Trust in government is at an all-time low. In one 1964 survey, 76 percent of respondents trusted government just about always or most of the time. Now, that number is down to 18 percent.² The public opinion climate has shifted from one in which most Americans trust government to do the right thing to one where mistrust is rampant.³

      There are many reasons for the public dissatisfaction that has arisen over...

    • CHAPTER THREE TRANSFORMING HEALTH CARE
      (pp. 26-42)

      HEALTH CARE TODAY IS DOMINATED by physicians, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies, and government agencies. Patients navigating their health care move across a variety of health care providers, order prescription drugs from pharmacies, and seek reimbursement from either public or private insurance plans. They spend hours working out the best health care for themselves and their families. If they are fortunate to have good providers and effective follow-through, they receive high-quality health care.¹

      Imagine a different system in which, with the aid of the Internet, electronic medical records, cell phones, and personalized health care, the patient is in charge....

  6. II. PLATFORM

    • CHAPTER FOUR CLOUD COMPUTING
      (pp. 45-62)

      THE U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SPENDS nearly $76 billion each year on information technology (IT), $20 billion of which is devoted to hardware, software, and file servers.¹ Traditionally, computing services have been delivered through desktops or laptops operated by proprietary software.² But cloud computing, a new advance in information technology, makes it possible for public and private sector agencies alike to access software, services, and data storage through remote file servers. With the number of federal data centers having skyrocketed from 493 to 1,200 over the past decade, it is time to more seriously consider whether money can be saved through...

    • CHAPTER FIVE HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND
      (pp. 63-82)

      IN THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. Congress charged the Federal Communications Commission with developing a national broadband policy by February 17, 2010. Legislators asked the commission to outline policies that would be efficient, effective, and affordable and would advance the public interest in “consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national purposes.”¹

      Central to this request was the idea that digital infrastructure is vital to long-term economic, social, and...

  7. III. POLICY CONSIDERATIONS

    • CHAPTER SIX INNOVATING IN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS
      (pp. 85-106)

      IT IS OFTEN ARGUED THAT the private sector is more entrepreneurial and innovative than the public sector. Commercial enterprises have great incentives to innovate because of market pressures and the need to remain competitive. As a result, they develop organizational structures that place a high priority on incorporating new technologies into their operations as a way to boost efficiency and productivity.

      The public sector, in contrast, encounters challenges in regard to innovation and entrepreneurship. Government agencies do not face the same kind of market pressures as private companies do. They do not have customers in the traditional sense, and they...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS
      (pp. 107-120)

      THE UNITED STATES HAS COME a long way in its communications network since the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network known as ARPANET was developed in 1969. Designed to link four scientific labs for interoffice communications, that network has given rise to personal computers, the Internet, high-speed broadband, and mobile devices.¹ Using these digital platforms, new applications for economic development, communications, education, health information technology, and smart energy grids are emerging with the goal of connecting people, businesses, and governments.

      This burst of innovation has created new marketplace opportunities and challenges. Our national leaders are devoting special attention to broadband policy...

  8. IV. NORMATIVE CONCERNS

    • CHAPTER EIGHT PERSONALIZED MEDICINE AND HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
      (pp. 123-144)

      FEDERAL OFFICIALS ARE PURSUING THE goal of a personal human genome map at a cost of less than $1,000 in five years.¹ Thus it is possible to envision a future in which treatments are tailored to individuals’ genetic structures, prescriptions are analyzed in advance for likely effectiveness, and researchers study clinical data in real time to learn what works. Implementation of these regimens creates a situation in which treatments are better targeted, health systems save money by identifying therapies not likely to be effective for particular people, and researchers have a better understanding of comparative effectiveness.²

      Yet despite these benefits,...

    • CHAPTER NINE NEW DIGITAL MEDIA
      (pp. 145-170)

      A DECLINING ECONOMY HAS PLACED enormous fiscal pressures on news organizations around the globe. Simultaneous declines in ad revenues and circulation levels have undermined the traditional business model of newspapers, radio, and television. At the same time, the emergence of new competitors in the form of Internet websites, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter has intensified the competition among media outlets.¹

      This set of circumstances brought financial disaster to the American media, and at an inopportune time. In the midst of economic problems, two wars, and major domestic policy challenges, an informed and engaged citizenry is of utmost importance.

      Aspen Institute...

    • CHAPTER TEN SAFEGUARDING PRIVACY AND SECURITY
      (pp. 171-182)

      PRIVACY AND SECURITY REPRESENT MAJOR concerns for the American public. According to survey data, a large number of Americans are concerned about the confidentiality of online information and the security of electronic transactions. For example, 62 percent of adults in a national poll felt that use of electronic records makes it more difficult to ensure personal privacy. In addition, 75 percent of Internet users worried about websites’ sharing information without users’ permission.¹

      On the surface, the advent of new technologies appears to increase questions regarding privacy and security, especially with government agencies dealing with sensitive information.² By its very nature,...

  9. V. CONCLUSION

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN FACILITATING INNOVATION
      (pp. 185-196)

      THERE ARE MANY POSSIBILITIES FOR using digital technology in the private and public sectors to further social and political innovation. Recent advances in information technology have lowered the costs of communication and reduced the barriers to innovation in many fields. Those benefits enable new applications in government, business, health care, and communications, among other areas.

      But there are a number of factors that complicate innovation. Successful implementation depends on a combination of shifting organizational routines, creating proper incentives, and enacting policies that facilitate innovation. Each of these characteristics is vital for long-term effectiveness.

      Leadership sets the overall tone and atmosphere...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 197-208)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 209-219)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 220-221)