10 Government Innovations Your Business Can Use - InformationWeek

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10/2/2015
07:06 AM
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10 Government Innovations Your Business Can Use

Government and innovation are not words we often use in the same sentence. Yet, government scientists and engineers are working hard to develop many cool things. Is your business looking in the right places for products and services? These innovations could offer you a new place to start.
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(Image: Architect of the Capitol via Whitehouse.gov)

(Image: Architect of the Capitol via Whitehouse.gov)

Governments run on technology. That's been true since the technology in question was cuneiform on clay tablet. Modern governments certainly depend on technology to support nearly every facet of their operation. Thousands of businesses depend on technology developed by government scientists and engineers for all or part of their enterprise.

Technology developed and used by US government agencies runs the gamut from systems that can improve office worker productivity to products that let you take a joyride on Mars. In those cases, though, and in the case of most things between the extremes, technology developed by the government is available to everyone. People could take much greater advantage of the technology than they usually do.

When most of us think about government technology, two spheres of activity come to mind: One is the military, the other the space program. Both are, indeed, chock-full of technology, but they're far from the only technologically savvy parts of the government. I wanted to take a look at some other parts of the US government to see where they stand in terms of the technology they develop, use, and make available to the rest of us.

[ How will we connect tomorrow? Read 8 Smart Cities: A Peek At Our Connected Future. ]

It's important to note that I'm not going to cover military applications at all in this article. There are a number of reasons for that, one of the most important being that a lot of the really cool stuff would require all of us to have clearance for classified information. While I am looking across the US government, I can't promise that I won't touch at least a bit on NASA: Some of its tech is far too cool to ignore.

There have been debates about whether the government should be involved in the development of technology since such work began (a long, long time ago). That debate should continue -- somewhere else. Here, let's just appreciate the work that the scientists and engineers have accomplished and discuss how the technology might be useful for our organizations. We can also mention that we might like to have one of the units at home.

Some of the technologies you'll see here you already know about. Others might be new to you. In either case, the uses we found might provide inspiration for new projects -- or solutions for problems that have been vexing you. Let us know what you think about the tech we found and how it might find a home in your next project.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
10/5/2015 | 1:28:58 AM
Re: GPS
Agreed, government and the private sector can enable mutual benefits for each other -- free markets can create strong economies and strong economies can support a larger government.

GPS is a great example of a technology that can finish the friction in markets. For instance, if customers can locate the lowest price of a product relative to their location, it is good for the customer as well as the supplier that is lowering prices to increase sales. GasBuddy is a mobile app that uses GPS to deliver on this front and the concept can be applied to virtually any business. 
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
10/4/2015 | 1:04:48 PM
Re: GPS
@PedroGonzales I trust you are right, I could not agree more...
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/4/2015 | 12:16:39 PM
Re: GPS
I think it is a good idea that government releases their products to the regular market.  That way other companies can benefit which will lead this country better, if their companies are becoming more efficient and compete better they can create more jobs here.  The same way government could learn from private sector and learn for way to become more efficient as well.  Both industries can collaborate and help one another.
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
10/4/2015 | 3:11:39 AM
Re: GPS
@jries921, I would say it takes time as Military technology takes up to 20 years before it get declasified and get to civilan market...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
10/4/2015 | 3:09:55 AM
Re: Impressive work
@Blog Voyage, same here interesting information.... we are here to learn from each other :) feel free to share your ideas :)
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
10/3/2015 | 10:59:11 AM
GPS
So why should GPS go away just because "the military has moved on"?  NASA can launch its own sattelites, can it not? and it can even charge private parties for access to the system should Congress so decide.


I should note that much of the reason that "government" and "innovation" are rarely mentioned in the same sentence is generations of antigovernment propaganda designed to delegitimize the very concept of democracy and transfer whatever reverence people might feel for public institutions to private industry.  While it is true that size and efficiency are inversely proportional, my experience has been that this applies to the private sector every bit as much as it does to the public sector.
Blog Voyage
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Blog Voyage,
User Rank: Strategist
10/3/2015 | 9:20:27 AM
Impressive work
What a dossier ! Very impressive. Sorry for my bad english but your stuff is very nice to read.
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