Tag Archives: government

Irene’s aftermath in the Hudson Valley

The flood waters here in the Hudson Valley have largely subsided. That 12.8′ prediction for the Wappingers turned out to be way off. It crested north of 15′ (second highest recorded value, above the 2007 spring flood). As that’s the only river with a sensor in Dutchess county, it is an indicator of how swollen every little creek was. One of those, the Fallkill, which runs through the City of Poughkeepsie, breached it’s banks putting a bunch of city blocks under water.

Our town, LaGrange, fared very well. I give a lot of credit to our municipal government and public servants for that. They were putting rapid updates with critical information on their website as the storm progressed. They preemptively declared a state of emergency to keep people off the roads. They had dry ice and water stations running before the storm even arrived, and they were constantly monitoring and closing off road sections once they became dangerous.

For our particular neighborhood the most important thing the town did was 5 years ago. They replaced the culvert that lets a little stream cross under the main road into the neighborhood with one that was just gigantic. When they did it I was really puzzled, because it seemed like a ridiculous over kill. On Sunday we walked down there, and found the culvert was 3/4 full. So extra kudos to whoever decided that needed to be upgraded, because they were right, and if that hadn’t been done, we’d be stranded in our neighborhood. I sent a email of thanks to our officials over this response, because they deserved it.

Another party that did a lot to minimize the effect in our area was Central Hudson. We had a double blizzard here a couple of years ago that completely taxed their emergency response. NY state government called them to task on it, and they started focusing hard on disaster recovery. For the last two years they’ve been doing an incredible amount of preventative maintenance, new taller poles, backup pole structures, cutting back trees that could be dangerous to main lines. They brought in additional crews from Kansas ahead of the storm, knowing they were going to need more manpower. They also started communicating a lot more during disasters. I’ve gotten a daily email from them every day since the storm hit with an update of what’s going on. Their storm watch website tracks every single outage report, and in 30 seconds you can report an outage via their mobile site.

There is a lot of damage here, mostly caused by the water. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that bad. And a reason for that is that we’ve actually got a lot of organizations, our local governments, and our local utilities, investing in advance in resilient infrastructure.

So to all that were a part of that, I just want to say: THANK YOU.

The cloud goes to Washington

At a press briefing here at its headquarters, Google announced a new version of its Apps suite designed specifically for government customers. This tier will be sold alongside the existing version of Google Apps and priced the same as the company’s premiere license–$50 per user, per year.

Google Apps for Government features all the same applications that can be found in other versions but comes with a higher level of security, which Google says meets the requirements set forth by the Federal Information Security Management Act. This includes segregated data centers, which Google says goes beyond FISMA regulations, and will keep government e-mail and calendar event data within U.S. borders.

This is probably the biggest tech story of the day.  A lot of FUD around cloud will be dismissed if we see large government sign off on it.

The importance of getting government data online

Wired has a great interview with the Federal Gov CIO, which actually dates back just prior to data.gov‘s launch.  It’s definitely worth a read.

I firmly believe that this is the most important change that the current administration can make.  The Federal government did a tail spin into secrecy over the past couple of decades, and while I believe the previous administration took this to a new height, it seems like it was part of a trend that definitely predates them.  Secrecy breeds distrust in government, as well as bad decisions, as people don’t have access to all the facts.

Sunlight is definitely the best disinfectant, and nothing has quite the same power of light as the whole of the internet gazing in.

Open APIs for NY State Senate

Hours before the entire NY State Senate imploded into a bunch of whining 1st graders, the previous leadership pushed out something quite interesting: open.nysenate.gov.

To pursue its commitment to transparency and openness the New York State Senate is undertaking a cutting-edge program to not only release data,
but help empower citizens and give back to the community. Under this
program the New York Senate will, for the first time ever, give
developers and other users direct access to its data through APIs and release its original software
to the public. By placing the data and technological developments
generated by the Senate in the public domain, the New York Senate hopes
to invigorate, empower and engage citizens in policy creation and

It remains unclear what will happen once squabble-gate ends, and we get a NY State government again, but hopefully a step into open like this is hard to step back from, especially if more people know about it.  So spread the good word, and cross your figures that we get some sort of government back some time this year.