Ontario tracks technology trends

Governments need to be diligent in tracking technology trends in order to provide the right applications and services to citizens at the right time, Ontario’s chief technology officer told delegates at a recent roundtable meeting.

“When we look at technology, the focus is on the next two years,” Dave Wallace told more than 400 delegates at the Toronto meeting hosted by the province’s Management Board Secretariat and the Ontario branch of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). “We’re balancing the concept of benefits against the maturity of the technology.”

Wallace said over the next two years the Province of Ontario and its CIOs will “act on” trends including the movement of advanced mobile applications into the mainstream, the increased security of wireless communications, and the maturation of Web services and business instant messaging. As these trends unfold in the coming months, the province will be able to re-engineer the way it does business in order to use these technologies to further its own IT agenda and provide better access to information and services both internally and to its clients.

“This is not technology for technology sake,” Wallace stressed. “It’s about opportunities for the business. We’re widening the horizons for the business based on the right technologies at the right time.”

Another short-term trend the province is planning to act on is the increase in technology standards. Wallace said governments are looking toward a standards-based approach to providing IT solutions to projects like the secure electronic exchange of personal health information among health care providers.

As for short-term trends that the province is currently monitoring, the convergence of identity management technologies and next generation portal technology top the list. Wallace stressed that portal technology is of particular interest to the province as it is critical for making government accessible to clients.

Looking even further into the future – to 2008 and beyond – provincial CIOs will be keeping an eye on grid computing and nanotechnology.

“That is kind of way out there,” Wallace said of nanotechnology, which is an engineering discipline that focuses on the design and manufacture of extremely small electronic circuits and mechanical devices built at the molecular level of matter. “But it is very exciting.”