Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Using a Common Language to Promote Effective Solutions

You may have noticed a small orange box with the letters XML or RSS appearing with greater frequency on your favorite websites.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) or RSS (Version 2.0/Real Simple Syndication) allows a website to automatically send information to you as soon as the website is updated. It eliminates the need for you to continually check your favorite websites for new information.

Although XML/RSS has been available for some time now, it has now become a mature and easily implemented technology. Now is a perfect time for legislation requiring that New York State and all political subdivisions in New York State make available, at a minimum, emergency information via XML/RSS and to assist organizations working for the public good such as Parents for Megan’s Law, Island Harvest, Long Island Index and many others in upgrading their websites to include XML/RSS.

Some of the benefits to implementing XML/RSS include: 1. Low cost to install, 2. Easy to implement, flexible standard, 3. Facilitates information sharing and distribution, 4. Allows greater public access while maintaining necessary security, 5. Assists in the distribution of Amber Alerts, Megan’s Law Alerts, Homeland Security information, weather alerts, school closings, etc., 6. Will make NYS a leader in the field, 7. Will assist in helping NYS affiliate agencies and community organizations in developing a uniform, coordinated communication standard, 8. Uses the existing public internet, more secure that e-mail; not subject to spammers, 9. Can be easily be linked to other forms of communication including mobile communication devices and software, 10. Great availability of free software to read XML/RSS information; some even allow the user to set their own alerts, 11. Can be adopted as part of a state and national standard for emergency communication.

While this list is by no means complete, it will give you some idea of why it is important to adopt XML/RSS as a New York State standard and as part of an overall strategy for the distribution of important public information.

Most importantly, it will give government, community organizations and the general public the ability to communicate utilizing a "common language," which is a reasonable first step in formulating a sustainable interchange of ideas and concepts which lead to positive action.

Information changes quickly. It must be organized, analyzed and be made available to those in decision making positions to be of real value. XML based data will ensure all parties speak the same "language" and that they proceed from the same set of assumptions.

XML based data utilizing shared analytical tools on a common platform will lead to quicker, more accurate decision making and greater clarity of thought in arriving at decisions which impact the public. Additionally, it will foster better inter-governmental cooperation and, where appropriate, governmental consolidation and the elimination of duplicative services.

Static reports and periodic conferences are important tools, but they do not create the dynamic interchange of information needed to effect lasting, positive improvement. XML based information will lead to virtual real time analysis of issues and information and will encourage greater participation by all segments the public, including the business and non-profit sectors.

Greater diversity of thought with a willingness towards reasonable compromise utilizing shared dynamic and relevent information should produce a better public environment on all levels.

With minor expense to the State and some additional public education all the benefits of XML/RSS, important public information will be available to everyone in a timely and effective manner.

No comments: