Jan | Feb 2014


Emerging Technology Trends for State Governments

By Amy Webb, CEO | Webbmedia Group
The past 12 months have been important for new developments in technology. Mobile phones helped activate the Occupy Movement across the U.S., while social networks brought down more than one elected official.
For those working in and alongside state governments, being aware of emerging technology trends is paramount to effectively serving any constituency.
At the recent CSG National Leadership Conference, I outlined technologies used for monitoring our behaviors and communications, tools for storytelling and technology that can be used to advance your position and agenda in both the digital and physical worlds.
Pictures of our faces—photos we’re posting to Facebook, for example—can now be used to digitally identify us by law enforcement and others. We are uploading millions of photos every day to social networks and, in the process, we’re attaching rich data along with them—who’s in the photo, where the photo was taken, even what equipment was used. Combined with social check-in services, which continually show our physical locations and who we’re with, a number of clever search tools have emerged that can effortlessly divulge a person’s name, age and interests simply by snapping a photo of his or her face.
While sophisticated users have expressed concerns about their privacy, younger mobile and social network users are more and more willing to share everything with everyone, even strangers. Many of these services change their terms of service often, but most users aren’t aware of what personal information is being shared with the outside world.
Image recognition algorithms have become sophisticated enough that we can simply wave our phones over someone’s face, and if she has a public Facebook profile, we can immediately learn numerous details, from her hometown to her spouse’s name to her whereabouts at that moment. With the right software, we can even predict her Social Security number with great accuracy.
Outside of image recognition, social proximity networks have become extremely popular and simple to use. It’s becoming easier to track people in the real world based on their mobile activities. New apps such as Sonar (sonar.me) and Rapportive (rapportive.com) can help you learn the identities and personal details of everyone within a given proximity.
Everyday people are using new tools to create groundswells in order to tell their own versions of an event. Websites such as Change.org (change.org), DoSomething (dosomething.org) and PopVox (popvox.com) offer creative ways to message constituents, while Storify (storify.com) has emerged as a fantastic, easy-to-use platform for aggregating social media content around an issue, candidate, cause or elected official.
The new technology presents an opportunity to identify, track and engage with influencers. Some new startups, such as Klout (www.klout.com) and PeerIndex (www.peerindex.com) are attempting to assign a numerical value to rank someone’s pull in the digital world. If you’re active on Twitter and Foursquare, and if others seem to amplify your message, you’ll achieve a high score. Recruiters and headhunters are now using these numbers, while political observers are paying close attention to who’s driving the conversation online.
I encourage you to look at these tools and to discuss emerging platforms, networks and technologies with your staff on a regular basis. Think about how those you serve are using them, and also be aware of how they can be used against you or your cause.
If you would like more information on these or other emerging tech trends for 2012, you can view or download a white paper.
 
Amy Webb is the CEO of Webbmedia Group, a digital strategy firm that advises Fortune 500 companies, state and federal government agencies, universities and foundations worldwide.