By Guest Blogger Darlene Meskell, Director, Global Government Innovation Networks
What if all the governments of North America could leverage the power of information technology to jointly attack transcontinental problems of public health and safety instantaneously and at very little cost? The spread of disease and the proliferation of criminal activities would be more tightly controlled, 3-way information exchange could be replicated in many areas of government, and new trusted working relationships would blossom across the continent.
The GSA Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies sponsors a tri-lateral group, which has undertaken a number of joint projects to address just such issues that by their nature cannot be contained within national boundaries. Along the way, it is building trusted relationships and information-exchange models, and boosting collaboration among the three countries.
The group of about 30 senior government IT officials, led by the Chief Information Officers of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has met since 2001 at an annual “North American Day” summit, in which they share information, ideas and insights. Its impact has grown since the 2011 meeting in Mexico City, when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed formalizing the three countries’ collective intent to conduct cooperative activities in the areas of information sharing and interoperability.
Two project teams launched then demonstrated at this year’s meeting in August that they can connect public health and public safety information-exchange systems across the US, Canada and Mexico. These unprecedented connections enable the rapid and reliable exchange of information about public health alerts on food-borne illnesses and stolen vehicles and lay the groundwork for future exchanges in other areas.
Building on its success, the North American Day collaborators initiated several more ambitious projects, which I’ll discuss in future posts.