Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Where Was Howze? County's IT Infrastructure Full of Stovepipes, Can't Communicate
At yesterday's County Board - County Manager FY 15 Budget Work Session Arlington's Chief Information Officer, Jack Belcher, announced another exciting IT program...Arlington's Department of Technology Services will team with Arlington Economic Development to build an extra-high capacity fiber optic LAN (local area network) around Arlington County in an attempt to lure Silicon Valley IT firms, high technology companies that already have offices in the region, and the National Security Agency to Arlington. Arlington County will own and manage the fiber optic LAN and will compete with Comcast and Verizon to offer low-cost extra-high speed and extra-high capacity Internet/Intranet service to businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.It appears that Arlington has about a 3-year head start on D.C., Alexandria, and Fairfax County in implementing this service.
Meanwhile, CIO Belcher described the County's current IT system as one that creates dozens of 'stovepipes' every time new hardware is introduced (e.g., I-phones) until DTS purchases expensive software to integrate new hardware into the County's IT system. He also described serious and significant problems with local governments (e.g., Arlington, Alexandria, and Federal agencies) communicating among each other, with both wireless and fiber optic systems, even after a decade of massive investments by local and Federal government agencies in fiber optic and wireless. (This was confirmed by a source within Arlington's public service system who described Arlington's responsiveness to natural disasters and communications among local governments as "terrible").
Within Arlington, CIO Belcher described a County Government IT system that is capable of collecting and sharing vast amounts of data about Arlington residents, who typically have little involvement with Arlington Government beyond paying taxes and parking fines and using the library system.
Which leads me to ask where has IBM's Government Services IT Consultant Guru and County Board Candidate Alan Howze been all these years while DTS has been 'stovepiping' County Government with competing IT hardware and software? Serving on one non-IT advisory commission and committee after another while Arlington's IT system flounders..
I commend John Vihstadt for raising the issue of 'stovepipes' in County Government. It will be a major task for him to help make County Government efficient when he's elected to County Board.