Federal agencies responsible for citizen safety are utilizing the latest in technology to improve delivery of disaster assistance information and services to citizens and the emergency responder community. As Americans began using the Internet for everything from managing bank accounts to buying groceries, some U.S. government agencies realized that they were not meeting the needs of their computer-savvy constituents. Although citizens could find a plethora of information on the Web, critical government-held information that could save lives and property after a natural or man-made disaster was lacking.
While the U.S. Defense Department continues its quest for transformation, federal agencies are undergoing a transformation of their own. Earlier this year, a task force, under the direction of the Office of Management and Budget, launched 24 e-government initiatives that will change the way citizens interact with agencies and bureaus. The goals of the effort are to make it easier for individuals and businesses to work with government agencies and to cut costs by eliminating procedural and information systems redundancy.
The U.S. Air Force is undergoing a change in its operational capabilities as significant as when missile-armed jets replaced gun-bearing propeller aircraft. Information technologies, which long have enhanced weaponry and improved capabilities, now are taking their place alongside other key types of hardware as defining elements in Air Force operations.
Industry is focusing on how to reduce computer system complexity by modeling the human body's autonomic nervous system. From servers to software, researchers are building all components of the infrastructure based on the same characteristics-regulation and protection of key functions without conscious involvement. Autonomic computers will make more decisions on their own and require less human intervention.
Information systems are an important part of U.S. military transformation, but they are only one component of a complex continuous journey for the armed forces. Culture, processes and concepts also must change, and government agencies across the board must transform as well for the United States to retain its leadership role.
The success of operations in the Persian Gulf indicates that advanced communications systems are sure to be among the crucial assets put to use by military and government agencies as they work to ensure homeland security. TechNet International 2003 speakers reiterated this point as they shared their views about the importance of information systems in the war on terrorism and in government agency cooperation. Changes continue to take place in technology, policies and procedures, they agreed.
Military and federal government leaders agree that information systems will be key enablers in forming the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and protecting the nation. Speakers and panelists at TechNet International 2003 shared information and insight about the road ahead for the department and how industry will support its work. One chief concern is how to facilitate coordination and collaboration between federal agencies, among various levels of the government and within multiple emergency response organizations.
Everything is "transforming" these days. Our economy, our military, our nation and our place in the world are all under immense pressures to change, to dramatically alter what we are to keep up with what we need to be.
The U.S. Air Force is moving its communications and command and control systems to an on-demand, Internet-based model. This will consist of wired and wireless data pipes connecting ground installations, aircraft and satellites in a seamless architecture. However, while many parts of this structure are in place, the service still faces the challenge of establishing and managing what will become a massive system of systems.
Within the next decade, the U.S. Air Force plans to field a rapidly deployable satellite launch capability to support joint and coalition operations around the world. By working with the national research and development community, the service aims to identify and nurture technologies that will enhance the nation's military space efforts.