Original post: 12 July 2008
Technology makes government vastly more efficient and effective. No cop or utility crew or building inspector could do their jobs without cell phones, radios and computers.
But technology is not necessarily the solution to everything. Seattle spent multi-millions of dollars for public hi-tech toilets in 2004. A noble experiment to try and improve the hygiene of the homeless and people on the street. Now the experiment is ending and you will be able to bid on the toilets on e-bay. See this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Governing Magazine’s “13th Floor” article here.
The lesson here? The same lesson those of us working in information technology have learned this lesson hard way over the last 30 years: first of all be clear on the scope and objectives of your project, then re-engineer the business processes, and only after that look for a technology solution. Quite often the solution is not high-tech, but rather changing the business culture or process or the routines and habits of people. And this lesson specifically includes how and where people use the toilet!