Innovation makes or breaks companies. Someone takes a leap of faith and sends their idea out into the market where it catches fire and competitors materialize out of thin air, just to sell knockoffs. But nothing is forever, and over time the innovation is no longer so shiny and new. Suddenly someone else takes their own leap of faith and the previous innovation becomes irrelevant.
The financial thumbscrews are tightening everywhere, especially in government! But how do you cut costs and still provide the services John Q. Public demands? Consider this: every day, millions of us citizens contact our state in each of the 50 states of the union, to do the same something, and get the same end result. Oh, and ponder this – with respect to the applications that are used by individual government entities: after spending months building and implementing an application from scratch, it turns out that some IT elsewhere already built a bigger, better, faster app with a cherry on top! So time, trouble, money and resources were wasted doing “this” when they were desperately needed elsewhere doing “that.” What do these two scenarios have in common? Not “sharing.”
What kind of "product" is energy? As recently as 50 years back, energy usage was less about business and more about creature comfort. There were no CIOs, no global computer networks, and there were only a handful of huge computers. Business was conducted over snail mail and faxes. Phones were hardwired. Today, government, business, medical care, and our lifestyles are all intricately interwoven with technology that has an unquenchable thirst for energy. It’s hard to image what life would be like without our energy devouring gadgets. You would have to go back to 5:27 p.m., November 9, 1965, when one faulty relay took the power lines down for over 80,000 square miles of the Northeastern United States and Canada, affecting 30 million people for almost 12 hours. Thanks to the relative technological innocence of those days and the reliability we have come to expect from the power industry today, the event is barely remembered, though to the people back then, those 12 hours must have seemed an eternity. If this kind of outage happened today, the frustration would be nothing compared to the cost of lost business.
A quote famously attributed to Politian Tip O’Neil states, “All politics is local.” Something similar could be said of global privacy and intellectual property laws. In Europe the individual owns his or her own information, which cannot “leave” Europe, while in the US, any information gleaned from public records on the Internet belongs to whoever collects it, who is then free to sell it to anyone. So while US citizens enthusiastically register for “do not call” lists and diligently delete cookies, marketers, debt collectors, investigators, and the nosy can buy publically available information on whomsoever they want. In the US, intellectual property and the income stream from it lives on indefinitely, while in Europe, intellectual property such as a public performance, automatically becomes public domain after 50 years. In Europe privacy issues have been raised over Google’s Street View application. The service is banned in Austria (although a Romanian company has a similar application in use in Austria).
While cloud computing is not new to the healthcare industry, there is a genuine reluctance to exploit the technology very fully. A principal factor in this reluctance is the need to insure privacy according to legal mandate. There has certainly been a link forged in the media between privacy headaches and the cloud, but is it actually the case that cloud computing and privacy are intrinsically incompatible?
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