So the premise behind these conversations is around putting technology to its best use for a particular situation. Essentially, using a screwdriver to twist in screws and not bashing them in with a hammer. It’s often helpful to have guidance or instructions for how we can use these tools most effectively. This is the world in which I find I spend most of my time, thinking of that connection between guidance (or policy) and the technology it addresses. I have been looking at this interaction for quite some time, perhaps my entire career, although it has evolved over many years. I can recall a time when the guidance dealt with the process of physically moving a ribbon of paper tape from the tape punch to one or many of a variety computer systems operated by other nations. Giving a little thought, perhaps out loud, to the potential scope of this conversation in today’s technology driven world I drew up a mind map of those top of mind subjects where technology and policy came together.
I think you’ll agree that it’s not a small area of study. But as you think about technology a little further, you begin to see how it has become an integral part of almost every aspect of our lives. The conclusion I reached is that all policies have a technology element. Technology drives better health outcomes, improved education and environmental stewardship. In this flat world of spikey regions, the availability of robust technology infrastructures helps attract people to liveable communities and drives economic growth. The growth of the knowledge economy is inextricably connected to information technology.
Now I know it seems a little far-fetched that a policy on, say, forestry has a link to information technology but after you go beyond the mental image of Paul Bunyan and his double sided axe, you quickly see how technology enabled (perhaps even driven) this sector has become. A quick review of the Canadian Forestry Service website under R&D leads you to FPInnovations, “the world’s largest private, not-for-profit forest research institute.” Their “Innovation Hub” provides a snapshot of how technology is driving innovation in this important segment of Canada’s economy.
With this incredible broad subject area, there will be any number of interesting areas to think about how best to apply the right technologies to the right problems in the right way.