NEW YORK-Aneesh Chopra, the nation's first chief technology officer, discussed health care IT, the growth in national bandwidth consumption and digital security at the CEA Line Shows conference here June 11.
"As CTO, it is incumbent upon me to achieve on the president's goals that we harness the power of our nation's innovation to advance the economy," said Chopra, the former Virginia secretary of technology, who was tapped by Obama for the national position in April. "I have great confidence we can do some wonderful things together."
Achieving those goals, Chopra added, will depend on "four pillars" of IT.
"The first pillar is to harness the power potential of economic growth," Chopra said, citing the June 11 switchover to digital television that will free up broadband capacity for the private sector to utilize.
Similar policies in the future, he suggested, will help promote economic growth and innovation. On a per-capita basis, Americans now pull down a gigabyte of data per year via their wireless devices, a rate that Chopra expects to increase fivefold by 2013 as more people utilize devices such as smartphones.
The second pillar, he said, is to "bring innovation platforms" to address issues such as health care IT, and utilize entrepreneurs to develop new tools that will leverage that technology. Chopra also sees the cloud as being key to streamlining and innovating health care IT and other areas.
The third pillar, Chopra continued, is security for IT infrastructure.
"I'm fascinated by the idea that we can interconnect all sorts of things that we never connected before," he said. However, "we are constantly under attack by those who wish to undermine our economy," necessitating that the country "embed in the infrastructure enough security and reliability."
The fourth pillar involves "bringing the concepts of retail 2.0 into government service itself and government operations." Imagine, Chopra suggested, taking the online tools that companies such as Amazon.com utilize to maximize the conversion rate of sales and then applying them to help citizens find jobs.
Traditionally, Chopra said, the government has engaged on the IT front in two ways: by investing in basic research and by procuring massive amounts of various companies' products.
Within these two areas, he continued, "there's not a lot of room for risk." However, the government can move to occupy space in "the innovation gray zone" in the middle to accomplish its goals.
Although he's been on the job for a grand total of two weeks, Chopra intends "to ask the American people to hold me accountable." To that end, he claims, he's preparing a scorecard with specific milestones to be met, with three-month, six-month, and nine-month goals and beyond. Time will tell whether such an ambitious agenda can be achieved within those metrics.