Kundra thinks globally, acts locally

Vivek Kundra, the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, takes a global perspective on the technology infrastructure of the nation's capital.

"It was a very powerful personal lesson, growing up in the developing world,' said Kundra, who was born in India and lived in Tanzania until he was age 11. 'Look at a city like Mumbai, India, with 18 million people." Many cities and villages in places like Mumbai are experimenting with mesh wireless networks as a way to provide low-cost Internet access to a large number of people. Washington, D.C., is now piloting mesh wi-fi in city government buildings, Kundra added.

The mesh network is just one of Kundra's plans for bringing computing power'and empowerment'to all of the city's residents.

Thus far the city has deployed 2,500 new Dell desktop computers to public schools, and plans to roll out more than 6,300 in total by Jan. 11. PCs in the classroom are 'as fundamental as heating, cooling and water,' Kundra said.

Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration has also selected four D.C. public schools that are to be transformed into high-tech campuses, with the goal of "persuad[ing] students to go into high-tech careers,' according to Kundra. He expects these investments to 'create dividends years from now, as our students participate in the global economy."

Kundra also sees libraries as future hubs for the city's new technologies, noting that the Fenty administration has increased the budget for the city's public libraries.

Kundra also wants to bring Web 2.0 technologies to the city in a more focused way by building resources in search technology, geographic information systems and business intelligence.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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