A gift list for feds

Thomas R. Temin

Everybody wants new toys at the holiday season. When kids outgrow Legos, though, their gotta-haves no longer cost $10 or $20, they're more like hundreds of dollars.

For grownups, it can be thousands. At least I could justify a new iMac and a 5-megapixel Nikon camera on the grounds that the whole family would benefit from them. But for government, the fun stuff can run into the millions. As good as the toys are this year, somehow the IT paradise we all imagine never materializes.

Still, it's fun to fantasize. In the spirit of the holiday, let's pretend the IT money pot is brimming, there's no Office of Management and Budget to scold agencies, and the IT industry is capable of catering to every government whim. What would be on the wish list? I suggest:
  • Reliable biometric engines. Fast and accurate, they would take the fudge factor out of facial or other recognition systems so they would be ready for industrial use.

  • Wireless notebook PC ID emitters. Couple that to a database of trusted travelers. The Transportation Security Administration needs a way to restore sanity to passenger screening.
  • A multibid pricing engine administered by the General Services Administration. Similar to the functionality consumers get from Cnet.com, it would aid agencies, notably the Defense Department, working to improve their adherence to competition rules.

  • Universal PDCDs'personal digital communications devices. It seems that everyone is pursuing different types of devices. What the world needs is a cheap, easily configurable handheld that does voice and digital communications over all known networks, including 800 MHz. To be mobile and totally functional now, you still need a basket of incompatible gadgets.

  • Hacker-mirror software. Whatever an unauthorized person trying to get into your network does is replicated in real time by your system and bounced back so hackers end up violating themselves.

  • Universal law of keyboards. No more would users of multiple systems have the frustration of trying to stay proficient on nonmatching keyboards.

For more wish list items, check our puzzle. Or e-mail me your dream technologies.


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