lunes, 30 de diciembre de 2013

The public sector as a spearhead of the data revolution

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity give a presentation in some training sessions on open data and the reuse of public sector information. All of them were oriented to disseminate these policies and its legal framework among civil servants and public employees. I usually focus this kind of sessions as an opportunity to convince my colleagues of the economic and social benefits of releasing public sector information. As times goes by and I take part in more training sessions, I begin to think that it would a good idea to introduce in the sessions some remarks about why is important to foster data skills and culture among the society and the role the public sector should play as the spearhead of this dissemination activity.

There is a clear gap between the potential economic value of the reuse of public sector information and its current actual value. While the European Commission has estimated this potential value in 40.000 € million with a spillover of 140.000 € Million, several studies in Member States using different methodologies have reached the conclusion that the actual value is around 10% of the estimations above (see studies in UK and Spain). Of course  one reason for this gap could be the scarcity of valuable public sector information available, but we should not underestimate the lack of capabilities to take advantage of the data available in a valuable manner as another critical cause for this gap.

Maybe you could think the situation described above it is a well known fact. But I´m not talking about the lack of big data and open data professionals highlighted by the experts. The problem is deeper and more spreaded. A data divide is begining to arise, and in the same way that, years ago, digital literacy campaigns were deployed now we need data literacy campaigns if we want to reap as a society the benefits of the data revolution.

The economic reason is important enough, but there are also social reasons for spreading the data culture among the citizens. Crowdsourcing could be a disruption as innovative as the cloud services for the public sector. The latter is technology on demand, the former is human resources on demand. But in a data driven society these human resources will be valuable only if they have a certain command of the data skills. Therefore, the collaboration pillar of the open government model will be impossible to build up within a society that lacks of culture of the value of data. As someone has pointed, this data or digital literacy campaigns should be mixed with civic literacy.

And the data literacy campaigns should start within the public sector. The reason is so obvious. If we provide the front-line civil servants with these needed data skills they would be able to help the community they serve to take full advantage of the open data resources available or they would be able to develop their own services using public datasets or public APIs. Besides beign an efficient manner to spread the data culture, this would imply a great leap in public sector effectiveness.

jueves, 19 de diciembre de 2013

The European Parliament: The #cloud king is naked

According with one of  its most used definitions, a technology is considered a General Purpose Technology (GPT) when it has the following features
  • It is a single, recognisable generic technology
  • Initially has much scope for improvement but comes to be widely used across the economy
  • Has many different uses
  • Creates many spillover effects
Up to a certain degree, Cloud-Computing meets these four features of a GPT, and therefore could be thought a transformational technology of our society in the same level as the steam engine, electricity or the Internet. This rationale is behind the high degree of priorisation given by the governments to the development of a national cloud-computing industry.

However, not all the nations will be able to develop their own cloud-computing industry. There is a need of an strong and big national basis to boost the industry to the transnational level, because, due to its nature,  it is not possible to compete in the international cloud market without this strong national basis. As usual, in the fragmented Europe the only solution is tackling the development of the cloud industry from an European perspective.

Not tackling the development of the cloud.computing industry at the European level has clear economic implications. According with a recent study, only 6% percent of the cloud providers are European, while the USA counts with an 88% share of the market. This fact not only has an impact in terms of value added to the GNP, the same study indicates that 63% of the revenues are generated by USA suppliers and 23% by EU suppliers, it also has an impact in the development of colateral markets (e.g. cloud insurances), employment and the taxes collected by the governments.

Due to this foreseen economic impact, the US industry has accused the EU countries of being obstructionist when they use their legal framework as a reason for not using cloud-computing services in a massive scale. Neither governments nor big companies have migrated to the cloud its IT infrastructure, and cloud services are only a clear success among SME and consumers. But the theorical false excuse have taken a real form with the Snowden case, and the European Parliament (EP)  has published probably the best report ever about how the cloud could be a driver factor to weaken our fundamental rights. Although the driver of the document are the recent PRISM-related revelations, it provides a whole set of details to being taken into consideration for the development of a cloud-computing policy in Europe.

To begin with, the EP document gives an interesting historical background of US surveillance. Perhaps the most revealing detail are the existence of possible secret surveillance treaties between US and UK as a continuation of their II World War partnership against the Nazis. Certainly, a possible secret "no spy" agreement between them could explain the opposition of UK government against the European Commission (EC) proposal for a new Data protection regulation in EU, as well as its petition to "The Guardian" to destroy Snowden files or to hand them back.

Something that also should concern us is the complexity of US regulation related with intelligence surveillance on communications. To begin with, the Fourth Ammendment that protects US citizens rights to privacy it does not seem applicable to EU citizens or any other foreign citizens. But even more, even if it protect them a twisted interpretation of the third party doctrine could have as a consequence not having "a reasonable expectation of privacy" and our transactions in the cloud being inspected without the supervision of an independent judge. Even more, the power of surveillance does not stop in infrastructures deployed inside USA, an 2007 ammendment of the FISA could also be interpretated as a new power targeted at the communications of non-US persons located outside the territory of the US. As cloud infrastructure could be considered as a communication infrastructure, the report concludes, the US legal framework related with intelligence surveillance has a consequence a legal uncertainty over EU citizens fundamental rights in their usage of cloud services provided by US companies.

The report gives in the end some recommendations about how to increase the degree of protection for EU citizen in the usage of cloud services. Perhaps, the most important one is the recommendation to renegotiate the agreements for transfer personal data between USA and EU. The general idea is that if we want that the US companies to fulfill our Data Protection legal framework we need to introduce heavy sanctions in case they do not comply with it. The reason is obvious, cloud computing introduce in the IT providers the need to fulfill with different legal frameworks and now the legal framework in the USA is more strict than the one we have in the EU (e.g. if a US provider does not comply with intelligence surveillance regulation faces prison). The document even critizises the Safe Harbour agreement as a false solution with insufficient safeguards.

Certainly cloud computing looks as a powerful and needed solution for many applications, for instance it is unthinkable to thing in big data applications without cloud storage capabilities. Same could be said about the processing needs for smart cities. But without the trust there will not be a take-up of cloud services, and the document of the EP has had the courage to denounce this need.

sábado, 14 de diciembre de 2013

Políticas públicas de datos

Recientemente, me cruce con el concepto "Lobby de datos" de mano del blog de Borja Adsuara. Ciertamente, y tal como citaba en su post  "el Big Data abre un espacio para que aquellos que participan en la toma de decisiones en una sociedad puedan influir legítimamente"No es nada nuevo que los datos puedan usarse para influir en la toma de decisiones, pero el Big Data nos trae un escenario nuevo en que se puede romper el actual equilibrio de fuerzas en la posibilidad de ejercer influencia social mediante el uso de datos. De cómo los gobiernos afrontan el desarrollo de políticas públicas alrededor de los datos dependerá que el nuevo balance de fuerzas suponga un empoderamiento de mas o menos grupos de ciudadanos.

Analizar el Big Data desde esta perspectiva de balance de fuerzas de poder, sería una extensión muy apropiada del libro de "The Price of Inequality", de Joseph Stiglitz. En el libro, el premio Nobel desarrolla con ejemplos la batalla entre el 1% frente al 99%, y cómo se acrecienta cada día que pasa las diferencias entre la minoría de los más poderosos frente al resto de la sociedad. Según el autor, el 1% acrecienta su dominio mediante la influencia en el desarrollo de políticas públicas que asienten su poder, reconduciendo la fuerza de cualquier innovación social, económica o tecnológica hacia este objetivo. Esta captura de cualquier avance a favor de los intereses del 1%, sería un posible escenario consecuencia del desarrollo del Big Data. Se presentaría el riesgo el 1% acrecentará su capacidad de influencia por ser los únicos que tuvieran las capacidades de navegar el el mundo de datos que se nos avecina. El 99% sólo le quedaría perecer en el diluvio de datos que anunciaba El Roto.

Son tres las palancas de las que depende el equilibrio de poder en este nuevo escenario de la influencia y el lobby que nos trae el Big Data:

  • Capacidades intelectuales para extraer el todo valor de los datos, ser capaz de identificar, seleccionar y combinar los datos disponibles 
  • Acceso a fuentes de datos de calidad 
  • Infraestructura para poder realizar el tratamiento de datos de modo ágil y en tiempo de ejercer la influencia

Estos tres elementos se identifican claramente en "Seizing the data opportunity", el documento estratégico al respecto del mundo de datos de UK.

Una redistribución de la capacidad de influencia bascula, consecuentemente, sobre ofrecer educación de datos al mayor número de personas, el dominio de datos de uso público que se establezca (de origen público o privado) y el grado en que se facilite el acceso y uso de infraestructuras para tratamiento de datos. Vamos necesitando la definición de políticas públicas de datos con un extenso análisis de impactoPo.

miércoles, 11 de diciembre de 2013

#astic Apertura Premios @_ASTIC 2013

En primer lugar, gracias a todos los que hoy habéis podido acercaros a esta celebración de los Premios ASTIC 2013. Quizás el más importante de los eventos en que nos reunimos a lo largo del año, porque en él reconocemos, en particular, el trabajo de nuestros compañeros y, en general, la labor de aquellos que han contribuido al desarrollo y aplicación de las TIC en las AAPP.

Cerramos el año en que se ha iniciado la reforma de la Administración. De aquel documento de propuestas para la CORA que elaboramos, ha habido aspectos que han sido recogidos y que hemos aplaudido: La creación de la figura del CIO o el reconocimiento y mantenimiento de las unidades TIC departamentales son las más importantes. Sin embargo, el proceso de elaboración de las medidas de CORA ha sido opaco y dando pocos espacios a la participación abierta que hubiera enriquecido el proceso. La reforma de la Administración no debería continuar por esa vía.

Ahora es el turno de la creación de la Agencia de servicios comunes TIC. Aunque nuestra apuesta era una Agencia de servicios comunes "y punto", también ofrecemos nuestra colaboración para su diseño. La valoración del talento interno del personal funcionario para sus puestos directivos y operativos deber ser el eje angular de la norma en que se defina su estructura. Pero sobre todo, debe construirse desde el diálogo y contando con los profesionales públicos que van a integrarla. El cambio cultural necesario para el éxito del proyecto sólo tomará raíces sólidas si es un proyecto de todos.

Y para poder colaborar de modo efectivo necesitamos una asociación fuerte. Nuestros nuevos estatutos nos dan una base para crecer, y de acuerdo a los mismos convocaremos para Febrero las elecciones para renovación de la junta directiva en las próximas semanas. Os animo a participar de modo activo y presentar candidaturas. Para mi ha sido un honor haber sido presidente durante este tiempo, y seguiré a disposición de quien dirija la junta que salga del proceso electoral. 

Y sin más, agradecer a los patrocinadores su colaboración y empezamos con la ceremonia.

miércoles, 4 de diciembre de 2013

#BigData : Organizaciones basadas en datos y profesionales de los datos

En un discurso hace unos meses, la Comisaria de Sociedad de la Información, Neelie Kroes, mostraba su convencimiento de nuestra entrada en la era del Big Data. La generación de datos alrededor nuestro es imparable, y en ese mismo discurso mencionaba el hecho de que estamos creando cada dos días tanta información como habíamos creado hasta 2003. Las organizaciones, entre ellas las Administraciones, no les queda más remedio que cambiar el modelo de trabajo y organización para poder explotar este caudal de información. En definitiva, y como indicaba en un anterior post, hacer crecer las capacidades de la organización alrededor de los datos.

Se habla de crear organizaciones cuya actuación ha de estar guiada por los datos. Quizás sea éste un objetivo erróneo, y sea más correcto hablar de organizaciones cuya actuación se base en las evidencias que pueden deducirse de los datos. Unas organizaciones caracterizadas por 
  • Tener capacidades internas tanto humanas como tecnológicas
  • Inviertan de modo constante en ampliar sus fuentes de evidencias y saquen partido del stock que han acumulado a lo largo de los años
  • Se apoyen mediante redes de buenas prácticas en el avance hacia la extracción de valor de la marea de datos
El punto más débil para habilitar la construcción de este futuro de organizaciones apoyadas en los datos es el factor humano. Es el discurso antes mencionado, Neelie Kroes indicaba que en los últimos 20 años la demanda de profesionales de datos se ha multiplicado por 12. Simplificando, se habla de la necesidad de científicos de datos, pero en realidad son más variados los perfiles de profesionales de la información que necesitan las organizaciones. Se habla hasta cinco los perfiles de tratamiento de datos que necesitamos:
  • Limpiador de datos, encargado de asegurar la calidad y coherencia de los datos recibidos de fuentes externas
  • Explorador de datos, que identifique las fuentes de datos más útiles para una organización en cada momento
  • Arquitecto de datos, que haga accesible la información disponible a cada miembro de la organización de acuerdo a sus necesidades
  • Analista de datos, creador de algoritmos de explotación sofisticada de la información disponible
  • Experto de negocios, que transforme las conclusiones extraídas de la información en acciones y campañas del negocio de la organización
Estas personas habrían de proporcionarla nuestro sistema educativo. Una vez más, como en toda revolución de negocio existe una carencia de entornos académicos apropiados para formar a los profesionales que necesitamos. Los programas son aún inmaduros y carecen de un contenido práctico real, pero sólo dando el primer paso del apoyo a su creación podrán existir (como en el caso de la Agenda Digital para España).

Transitar hacia la economía de los datos ha de basarse en organizaciones que hagan de la información el combustible de su negocio. Sólo será posible con una base de profesionales que estén formados en la explotación de los mismos.

martes, 26 de noviembre de 2013

#ReformaAAPP y capacidades digitales de la Administración

De tanto en tanto, a medida que pasa el tiempo y acontece alguna acción derivada de las medidas de reforma de las Administraciones Públicas propuestas por la CORA, no queda más remedio que revisar las mismas con detalle. De la revisión, una identifica aciertos y/o carencias en las medidas de reforma de la Administración que hasta entonces le habían pasado inadvertidas. Dada la evolución hacia una Administración digital que impregna mucha de las páginas de CORA, sorprende la falta de propuestas específicas para el desarrollo de las capacidades y habilidades digitales de la Administración.

Conviene señalar, sin embargo, que en el sexto eje de la Agenda Digital para España destinado a promover la inclusión y alfabetización digital, si existe previsión de dedicar algun tipo de fondos de formación continua al sector público. No obstante, en el desarrollo operativo de este eje dentro del Plan de Inclusión Digital y Empleabilidad no se ha incluido inicialmente ni acción ni presupuesto específico para la capacitación digital de las Administraciones.

El desarrollo de las capacidades y habilidades digitales internas de la Administración es, sin ir más lejos, uno de los planes estratégicos que desarrollo en su momento el Gobierno Británico como eje de su reforma. Dicho plan establece un conjunto de acciones adaptadas al entorno británico, que si bien no son directamente transplantables a nuestra Administración si resulta de interés como punto de partida.

En un plan estratégico de capacitación digital de cualquier organización, y de la Administración en partiacular, se debería contar con tres ejes de acción:
  • Determinar qué capacidades digitales se necesitan en cada puesto de trabajo de la organización
  • Identificar vías para extender la cultura de la digitalización con su capacidad de transformación sobre los procesos de la organización
  • Establecer mecanismos y herramientas de realimentación y evaluación continua de las bases de digitalización establecidas tanto de capacidades como culturales
Dentro de la determinación de las capacidades digitales para cada puesto de trabajo de la organización, resulta especialmente crítico identificar los perfiles de los profesionales destinados a implementar la digitalización de la Administración. Sobre la clásica estructura de niveles y jerarquías de la Administración, es necesario definir de modo estructurado los puestos de trabajo de carácter tecnológico y los requisitos de conocimiento y experiencia que han de reunir los que los ocupan. Será difícil que exista una motivación continua de un profesional si no conoce su roadmap de promoción de acuerdo a su desempeño profesional. Un funcionario TIC necesita, consecuentemente, una carrera profesional definida.

El desarrollo de una carrera profesional del funcionario TIC es otra de las medidas no existentes dentro del informe de la CORA. La digitalización de la Administración requiere de algo más de desarrolladores, jefes de proyecto y administradores de sistemas. Aprovechar de modo óptimo los recursos disponibles para la tecnología requiere, entre otras acciones de base, la definición estructurada de los perfiles profesionales alrededor de marcos estándar. La implantación de un sistema de referencia estándar, como el perfil europeo de profesionales TIC, que está impulsándose a través del CEN con la norma CWA 16458, u otras variantes como el SFIA que se impulsa en Gobierno de Reino Unido.

La capacitación digital de las Administraciones es algo más que inversiones en tecnología. Impulsar esta capacitación desde el marco de las medidas de reforma es altamente necesario para una efectiva ejecución de la misma.

jueves, 21 de noviembre de 2013

From impersonal data to personal data

The appearance of new devices, the so-called Internet of the Things, is the cause behind the production of an overwhelmingly amount of information. This should not be a problem when the information is about the environment where we live (natural or man-made). The more information we handle, the better decissions we will be able to take. Nevertheless, the problem arise because a great part of this "things" are quite personal for us, and therefore the information connected to these devices could be classified as "Personal identifiable information" (PII).

According with the definition given by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), "Personal identifiable information" (PII) is

any information about an individual maintained by an agency, including 
  1. any information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual‘s identity, such as name, social security number, date and place of birth, mother‘s maiden name, or biometric records;
  2. any other information that is linked or linkable to an individual, such as medical, educational, financial, and employment information.
This definition is the basis to consider an IP address a piece of PII. Although the assignment of an IP address is not permanent, it can be established a connection betweeen this address and a person if we analyse other pieces of information handled by telecom operators.

Some pieces of information contained or linked to our personal and/or wearable devices are now starting to be used as the basis for new business models. Perhaps one of the best known cases has been the story around new London bins deployed last summer.  The company in charge of the maintainance of the bins offer you targeted ads as you pass close to them with your Smartphone. The ads are chosen based on information the company has captured about your Smartphone whereabouts, that has been compiled with monitor stations that observe which Samartphones are around. The way the Smartphones are identified is using its MAC Address, an element that until now has not been considered a PII.

It can be said, and the company responsible of the bins did it, that no person is being identified in this case, only Smartphones. But it is clear, at least for me, that it is possible to establish a connection between the person and the MAC address through the Smartphone whereabouts. What is more, due to the fact that the Smartphone is always close to us even it would be possible to link it to specially sensitive information about ourselves. For instance, it can be established that we have had a health problem because our Smartphone has been tracked in a medical cabinet.

But the case of  London´s bins is only the herald of thousand of similar cases. With the spreading of wearable gadgets, there will be not only more chances to be monitored, there will be also an enrichment of the knowledge about the owner of the gadgets and the possibilities to identify him. And this open the door also to more control of ourselves also in our work post, something that could be danger on the hands of some employers.

What we once thought impersonal data generated in the Internet of the Things is getting more and more personal. 

lunes, 18 de noviembre de 2013

Quantified self, Quantified communities

In the last two years, the people (like me) who spend part of their free time on their training shoes has experienced a revolution in their approach to their hobby. Thanks to the growing affordability of smartphones, we have said goodbye to excel files and we have migrated the registration of our personal running achievements to a mobile app. And the story has just began. It is estimated that the sport and fitness app market will be increase by 63 percent from 2012 to 2017, and probably the growth will be bigger thanks to innovations as the M7 processor included in the iPhone 5S.

There are dozens of them, but I suspect that the more open the application the bigger its customer base. At least, that is the reason why I chose to use  RunKeeper. The features of all of these sport apps are quite similar, but the big difference is its capability to be syncronized with other apps. Being able to connect and sharing information between your sport app and other apps for keeping control over other aspects of health (diet, sleep, cardio, ...), allow you to have a more holistic view of your wellness. In my case, I use for controlling my diet MyFitnessPal and a Polar H7 device for cardio.

But RunKeeper and others are only the herald of a new concept: The quantified personal health as a leverage for the wellness of the society. Its utility could go  beyond its usefulness to the runner community  It is needed to define interoperability guidelines between this apps and public sector eHealth applications. Without any doubt, our doctor will have a better picture of our health if we provide him data about our daily routines to be use in combination with medical analysis. But the benefits will reach the society as a whole. The quantification of individuals would be extremely helpful, for instance,  in medical research and development or for the understanding illness outbreaks and its evolution. To sum up, to move from quantified individuals to quantified communities, and this move is so disrupting that even it is floating the idea that Health Authorities should regulated its usage.

The empowerment behind sharing health information has been already discovered by many people. Some people call it Patient Generated Data  Sharing your health information is the first step for reaching a better knowledge of your illness, specially in the case of rare or serious illness.  Some communities like PatientsLikeMe have already got impressed numbers of members. Even some of this internet communities are not only patient-oriented, but also they have a section for professionals, as it is the case of Webcina. Socialization of health looks as an unstoppable movement.

What is more, it this communities are also benefitial for the society as a whole. In a period of tight budgets in the public sector, specially in health, it is helpful for the government budgets diverting part of the medical consultations outside the general practicioners. In a slow manner, we are moving from an eminence-based medicine model to a swarm-based medicine model. Patients give advice to other patients, second-opinions easily avalaible, reputation services with rankings of hospitals, .... the 2.0 culture has taken the health sector.

Besides this, all the user-generated information could help governments to plan more wisely the usage of resources in the health sector. But perhaps, for unleashing all this potential it would be needed across the world more government initiatives as "Blue Button" and interoperability between this initiatives and the apps mentioned above. It looks the industry has an eye on this sector, and there are begining to appear also different solutions for "Patient Portals".

From quantified-selfs, to quantified-countries. Once more, digitalisation changing our lives. Read all the things that would be possible if we unleash all the power of fitness and health data.

miércoles, 13 de noviembre de 2013

Artículo para revista @apdasociacion "Los primeros pasos en la reforma TIC de la #aapp "

Artículo publicado en monográfico "Reformas y eficiencia del sector público" de la revista de la Asociación para el Progreso de la Dirección (APD) en Octubre de 2013

Hace apenas un mes, el Consejo de Ministros, siguiendo las recomendaciones de la Comisión para la Reforma de la Administración (CORA), acordó la creación de la Dirección de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones de la Administración General del Estado. Con esta decisión, nuestro país se equiparaba, al menos formalmente, a otros países de nuestro entorno inmediato, y rompía con la anomalía de carecer dentro de la Administración de un Chief Information Officer (CIO), máximo responsable de las Tecnologías de la Información, reconocido formalmente como tal. Sería pretencioso decir que ASTIC ha sido la máxima artífice de la creación de esta figura, pero si cabe recordar que ASTIC apostó por introducir su creación en la agenda política del Gobierno cuando no estaba presente en los borradores sometidos a consulta pública ni de la Agenda Digital para España ni del Plan Mejora.

La decisión del Gobierno es, sin embargo, sólo el primer paso en el camino de una reforma de la gestión de las tecnologías de la información de la Administración del Estado. Un análisis detallado de las competencias que se asignan al nuevo alto cargo en el Real Decreto 695/2013, de 20 de septiembre, que desarrolla y modifica la estructura del Ministerio de Presidencia, puede levantar dudas sobre el alcance de las mismas, solo parcialmente resueltas por el hecho de su dependencia directa de la Vicepresidencia de Gobierno y el rango de Subsecretario que se le otorga.

Desde ASTIC no ocultamos que ésta no es completamente la reforma que proponíamos dentro de nuestro documento “Una Administración del Estado para la Sociedad de la Información”. Sin embargo, debemos felicitarnos por los pasos que hasta ahora se han dado por el Gobierno, y confiar que la lógica de la razón acerque la realidad final a lo que en su día proponíamos. Hubiera sido también deseable una mayor transparencia y participación de todos los actores implicados en el diseño de la reforma, de la que conocemos sólo algunos detalles de su plan de acción esbozados en las propuestas de CORA. Es deseable que estas carencias se resuelvan implementación de la reforma, no sólo en el ámbito de las Tecnologías de la Información, ya que, de lo contrario, si se ignora a las personas en los procesos de cambio es de esperar que ellas ignoren el proceso de cambio.

La transcendencia social de la reforma de la gestión de la tecnología de la información en la Administración ha sido quizás insuficientemente explicada a la ciudadanía. Desde ASTIC, hemos tratado de abrir este debate, y hacerlo saltar a los medios generalistas. Nos encaminamos hacia organizaciones digitales, y la Administración ha de liderar ese cambio. Es por ello importante que en la reforma que ahora comienza se haya hecho una valoración positiva del colectivo de funcionarios profesionales de las tecnologías de la información que ASTIC representa. Una valoración que queda reflejada en el Boletín Oficial del Estado sentenciando que “las unidades TIC de la Administración General del Estado han demostrado sobradamente su capacidad para atender una demanda creciente de servicios y unas exigencias elevadas, a un nivel equivalente o superior a la media de la Unión Europea”. Esta frase no es una colección de palabras huecas. De un lado, el mismo Real Decreto 695/2013 refleja la conveniencia de huir de excesos centralizadores y mantener las unidades tecnológicas sectoriales de Ministerios y organismos públicos. De otro lado, y quizás más importante, con el nombramiento de Domingo Molina como primer CIO se reconoce al conjunto de los funcionarios profesionales de las Tecnologías de la Información.

El camino recorrido hasta ahora es una infinitesimal parte de lo que queda por andar. Domingo Molina, nuestro nuevo CIO, tendrá que suplir la falta de algunas competencias con su capacidad de liderazgo que ya ha demostrado en puestos anteriores. Pero desde ASTIC, creemos que los retos serán superados, y que para ello el nuevo alto cargo contará con la colaboración leal de todos los profesionales públicos del ámbito de la Tecnología, desde aquellos que tienen larga experiencia y ejercen capacidades directivas hasta los integrantes de las últimas promociones de funcionarios. Nos jugamos la construcción de la Administración Digital, que es lo mismo que decir que nos jugamos la Administración del mañana.

jueves, 7 de noviembre de 2013

National Information Infrastructure: UK strengthening its #opendata leadership

There are few doubts that the United Kingdom is the main European power in the Open Data and ReUse of Public Sector Information arena. Whatever the ranking you analyse ( ePSIPlatform European PSI Scoreboard, the OKFN Open Data Index or the ODDC Open Data Barometer),  your country is ranked in a better or worst position, but the common pattern is having the United Kingdom Government as the one with a best performance in this topic. Therefore, we can discuss the accuracy of the methodologies ineach case, but it is clear which is the dominant country.

The current status of the United Kingdom as the European Open Data leader is the result of a strong political backing that has survived a change in government party, jointly with the participation of figures of undoubted value as Tim Berners Lee. The consequence of both elements has been an impressive succession of innovative approaches in the development of open data policies. The last of this innovative ideas that  I have knowledge of is the definition of the concept National Information Infrastructure (NII) and the plan for its effective development.

According wit the definition, the NII is "the data held by government which is likely to have the broadest and most significant economic and social impact if made available and accessible outside of government, where possible". Therefore, the NII is the subset of Public Sector Information that will create social or economic value if it is re-used, a value that is estimated in more than 40.000 € million in Europe and creates trust in governments through transparency. This implies the need of establishing the development of a NII as priority for the governments.

The creation of this NII requires three major steps
  1. Identifying and maintaining an inventory of data held by government
  2. Prioritising data to be included in the NII
  3. Supporting organisations to release data
This tasks would not be possible to be developed without an strong Public-People-Private Partnership. The interaction and collaboration of civil servants, politicians, NGOs and private companies is a "must" in order to identify the more valuable government data assets to be published and the identification of the different possible uses for them. The UK plan established a roadmap for the first stage of this work, that it is assume as a never ending "work-in-progress". Supporting the public organisations to release data also need of this collaboration. To begin with, the feedback of the re-users is critical for the establisment of quality assurance cycle of the published government data. The value and justification of a NII is the re-use of the information and this will only be used if it the quality of it is guaranteed.

The concept of NII and its need in a data-driven society is pure common sense, but it is needed an strong commitment for its implementation. At this moment only the United Kingdom has shown this commitment, and with this commitment UK is in its way to strenghten its dominant position in the open data arena.

martes, 5 de noviembre de 2013

Gobierno Abierto y el marketing de lo público

Decía Rosseau, que cuando la sociedad no aprecia el valor de lo público el Estado está próximo a su desaparición. Y ello, quizás pasa ahora más que nunca, con una creciente marea de idiotas (en el sentido más etimológico de la palabra), cuando lo público se ve más como un pesado fardo para la sociedad que como la base que lo sustenta.

Pero el desinterés por lo público no sólo tiene su origen en el egoísmo del "sálveme yo primero". O mejor dicho, a él quizás hemos llegado por no saber hacer ver el valor de lo público. Nos falta en muchas ocasiones la labor del marketing de los servicios públicos. Y esta labor de venta no ha de ser muy distinta de la de los servicios del sector privado. Si bien no hemos de competir, generalmente, con otros servicios para obtener la elección de los ciudadanos, si los ciudadanos tienen un grado de expectativas similar.

¿Qué piden hoy los ciudadanos de un servicio? Supongo que las respuestas serán múltiples, y que cada uno podría dar la suya. Como respuesta sistematizada, encontré el otro día las 5E´s del marketing, que a mi juicio son una respuesta perfecta del secreto detrás de los productos y/o servicios que hoy en día atraen nuestro favor. Estas 5E´s son
  • Essence - Esencia, mostrarse auténtico y tal como se es
  • Exchange - escuchar al que va a recibir el servicio y dialogar con él
  • Engagement - Involucrar, conectar con el destinatario y hacerle parte del servicio
  • Experience - Atender las necesidades del destinatario del servicio, conectar con las mismas en tiempo real
  • Emotion - Sorprender mediante la empatía al destinatario del servicio

Pensando sobre estos servicios, es resaltable su conexión con los principios del Gobierno Abierto. La Transparencia conecta con la Esencia, la Participación con Engagement y Exchange y la Colaboración con Experience y Emotion. Es quizás por ello que el Gobierno Abierto es la única vía para la supervivencia de lo público, ya que sólo desde el mismo podremos hacer ver el valor de lo público y acabar con la demolición del bien común.

miércoles, 30 de octubre de 2013

Modelos de trabajo de horario y lugar flexible

Es un tópico que los tiempos de crisis son necesariamente tiempos para abordar cambios.  De ello, estamos teniendo sobradas muestras en los últimos años. En el entorno laboral, parece claro que el modelo de relación organización-empleado pre-crisis distará mucho del que exista al finalizar la misma. Es sin embargo destacable, que los cambios no estén alcanzando al modelo de rutina laboral diaria, que sigue anclada en el modelo industrial "desplazamiento-trabajo-desplazamiento". El cuándo y cómo trabajamos no se cuestiona.

Y, sin embargo, cuándo y cómo trabajamos afecta a nuestra productividad individual y colectivo.  En un estudio sobre flexibililidad de horario laboral realizado en Reino Unido, se estimaba una potencial ganancia de 5,1 horas de productividad semanal con modelos de trabajo flexibles.  Si hacemos una simple traslación a nuestro país, donde el coste bruto anual de un trabajador es de 31.170 Euros anuales y tenemos unos 16 millones de población ocupada, ello significaría una inyección económica de más de 7.200 millones de Euros en nuestra actividad económica. A los beneficios globales que como nación aporta modelos de trabajo de horario y lugar flexible, habría que añadir los beneficios para las organizaciones (por ejemplo, reducción de gastos inmobiliarios y de puesto de trabajo) y para las personas (mayor conciliación personal-profesional).

Pueden parecer números teóricos sin más, pero no es así. Existen ya casos reales de ahorros por la introducción de jornada flexible, tales como el caso del Ayuntamiento de Brent en Reino Unido. El ahorro anual ha sido de 5 millones de Libras anuales en una población de apenas unas 312.200 personas.

¿Porqué sin embargo no se está planteando el cambio del modelo de horario y lugar de trabajo? ¿Porqué en un momento en que es tecnológicamente posible una mayor flexibilidad seguimos anclados en el modelo industrial?. Confluyen en ello barreras colectivas e individuales:
  • La visión de la flexibilidad como un privilegio
  • La desconfianza hacia el empleado
  • El cambio de modelo de management que implica la flexibilidad
  • Impacto sobre perspectivas de promoción de emplados acogidos a modelo flexible
Todas estas barreras son las consecuencias de un cambio del contrato social de modelo de trabajo, sólo abordable desde la promoción política. El impulso con el ejemplo (e.g. introduciendo la flexibilidad de horario y lugar en Administraciones) y políticas de promoción (e.g. creación de fondo de innovación laboral) serían necesarias para hacer calar que el trabajo es lo que se se hace y no un lugar dónde se acude todos los días. 

Si queremos trabajar mejor, no podemos seguir trabajando igual.

domingo, 27 de octubre de 2013

Goodbye, Lou

Goodbye to one the heroes of my adolescence and since then until now . His music have been in my ears in the ups and downs of my life, in wild moments and in the quiet time. He was the sound of the suburbs and the sound of heterodoxy and transgression. He was the sound of love and hate.

Any of his songs would be perfect to listen now, any of his poem would be suitable to read in his honor today. But in this time of crisis, when the values seems to dissapear and the darkness looks as the winner, one of his songs comes to mind over the rest of his work:  "There is no time".

This is no time for CelebrationThis is no time for Shaking HandsThis is no time for BackslappingThis is no time for Marching Bands
This is no time for OptimismThis is no time for Endless ThoughtThis is no time for my country Right or WrongRemember what that brought
There is no timeThere is no timeThere is no timeThere is no time
This is no time for CongratulationsThis is no time to Turn Your BackThis is no time for CircumlocutionThis is no time for Learned Speech
This is no time to Count Your BlessingsThis is no time for Private GainThis is the time to Put Up or Shut UpIt won't come back this way again
There is no timeThere is no timeThere is no timeThere is no time
This is no time to Swallow AngerThis is no time to Ignore HateThis is no time to be Acting FrivolousBecause the time is getting late
This is no time for Private VendettasThis is no time to not know who you areSelf knowledge is a dangerous thingThe freedom of who you are
This is no time to Ignore WarningsThis is no time to Clear the PlateLet's not be sorry after the factAnd let the past become out fate
There is no timeThere is no timeThere is no timeThere is no time
This is no time to turn away and drinkOr smoke some vials of crackThis is a time to gather forceAnd take dead aim and Attack
This is no time for CelebrationThis is no time for Saluting FlagsThis is no time for Inner SearchingsThe future is at hand
This is no time for Phony RhetoricThis is no time for Political SpeechThis is a time for ActionBecause the future's Within Reach
This is the timeThis is the timeThis is the timeBecause there is no time
There is no timeThere is no timeThere is no timeThere is no time

miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013

Privacidad a cambio de servicios públicos electrónicos

Los servicios públicos electrónicos, sin apreciarse, están necesariamente próximos al vértice del cambio. Ello exige cambio en las Administraciones.  De un lado, es necesario una aproximación mayor a las necesidades de los ciudadanos, a los hechos vitales que constituyen su vida y crear ventanas únicas de servicios para atenderlas. Ello sólo es posible con una consolidación de servicios entre administraciones. De otro lado, es necesario hacer desaparecer las interfaces, que los servicios sean proporcionados de modo proactivo sin necesidad de solicitarlos.

Pero los cambios también son necesarios en la posición del ciudadano ante los servicios ofrecidos. Sólo pueden oferecerse servicios orientados a los hechos vitales si estos los comparte el ciudadano con la Administración. Sólo es posible que la Administración sea proactiva si tiene conocimiento previo de las acciones que realiza el ciudadano. La renuncia a ciertos aspectos de la privacidad, o mejor dicho, el intercambio de los mismos por una expectativa de servicio, es necesaria por parte del ciudadano. Un posible  escenario es facilitar puntos de acceso a la Administración próximos a tu recorrido habitual por tu ciudad habilitando el registro del mismo, como muestra el siguiente vídeo.

Government Digital Service (Council Tax) from Mandy Wu on Vimeo.

Pero nuestra renuncia a la privacidad a cambio de expectativas de servicios no se tiene porque ceñir a lo físico. Permitir la observación de nuestro rastro virtual puede ser también la puerta a otros servicios, por los que incluso adicionalmente podría interesar pagar. Es el caso del servicio de cola rápida de control en aeropuertos USA. A cambio de la privacidad (dejar observar tu conducta en redes sociales) y una cuota se elimina la necesidad de ser controlado en acceso a aeropuertos.

Privacidad a cambio de servicios. Si en el ámbito privado aceptamos el trato, en el mundo público estamos a la vuelta de la esquina.

miércoles, 16 de octubre de 2013

Working in government as a unique enterprise

Governments are for solving the society challenges. But the challenges that governments nowadays face are quite more complex than in the past. Now the big challenges are interconnected, an individual agency cannot solve them using only its internal capabilities. It is needed collaboration between agencies, government layers and the stakeholders to tackle them and expect success in the task.

The obvious consequence is the need for governments to work as a unique enterprise an not as a group of disconnected silos. It is a huge effort and requires an approach to solving the challenges different than the "business-as-usual" way of working, but it is possible. It happens every time a nation face a disaster: floods, train accidents, earthquakes, .... The western countries are currently facing an economic disaster, so it should be easy to extend the spirit that appear in governments after a disaster to its daily routine.

A first warning. Working as an enterprise does not mean the centralization of everything. An excess of centralisation poses its own problems in the form of bureaucratisation. It is more about rcognising our own limitations and the need to work together.

The best way to foster the change of culture needed to work as a unique enterprise in a government is with a public commitment. The highest the political backing of this commitment, the more quicker the adoption of a cross-cutting culture to every aspect of government life.

The cornerstone for the government commitment towards this new way of working could be the development a chart of cross-cutting objectives, no more than 16 with a responsible for its fulfillment. Let´s call this form of government an objective oriented government.

Objectives that shall be defined in a clear manner using plain English in order to be understood by all the citizens, because obviously the objectives would be published. The responsible for the fulfillment of each of them would not be the top-level in a chain based on command-and-control, but a broker of the internal and external skills for achieving the objective.

Once established the chart of objectives, it should be taken as the centre of the government activities. Take as an example the submission of the budgets. There would not be department budgets at the top but objectives budgets, each of them with a portfolio of projects with its own budget.  The publication of the budget in an objective oriented manner would not only foster the change of culture in the government, but it would also allow the citizens to have a clear picture of which are the priorities of the government. The more money is putting to fulfill an objective, the more important it is.

An objective oriented government or working in government as a unique enterprise would have other advantages. For example, the evaluation of its performance would be easier. It would be a child play to develop a public scoreboard, including for each objective the state of advance of each project of its portfolio.

It is needed to break the silo culture in governments in order to have more effective governments. Working in government as a unique enterprise is one way to reach this objective.

viernes, 11 de octubre de 2013

Spain and the #OECDSkills report : Beyond numeracy and literacy

A lot of fuss has been created in my country (Spain) around the "OECD Skills Outlook" report. The main focus of all the comments has been our position in the literacy and numeracy rankings. In both of them, Spain is among the five countries with a lower score. Nothing to be proud of, certainly. A huge debate has been developed around our education system, about its past and its future, around which political party is to blame for the situation.

Unfortunately, this debate has hidden other issues also included in this report, Isome of them as important as our literacy and numeracy skills. The report has a lot of data that deserves an analysis, I recommend at least take a look to the annex with all the tables with figures included in the report. For instance, it is a shocking surprise that no data has been collected about the proficiency level of Spanish workers  in problem solving in technology-rich environment (because Spain didn´t  take part in this part of the survey as France, Italy and Cyprus). I consider this a big gap of the knowledge needed for policy-makers in the area skills-development for a digital world.

However, there are more data in the report, some of them quite worrying for a country as Spain with more than 25% of unemployment. To be more specific. for me is highly significative the Tables A.1.7.a and A.1.7b in the pages 254 and 255 of the annex. The first table provides the percentage of workers who reported structural changes in their workplace in the last three years. The second table provides the percentage of workers who reported new ways of working in their workplace in the last three years. In both cases, Spain is below the average of the OECD countries. Taking into consideration that this data was collected in 2010, it explains partially why the employment destruction in Spain has been so quick and so acute: We are a country that needs reforms in the workplace beyond the changes in the labour laws. Our companies and organisations failed in the integration of the digital technologies and new organisational models.

miércoles, 9 de octubre de 2013

Some lessons from the US Government #Shutdown

I should recognize that I´m quite fascinated with the idea of a government shutdown. What is happening in the USA is going beyond my imagination, not only as a civil servant but also as normal citizen. I also think we can obtain from this experience some valuable lessons. One of them I have already written about it with sadness, the conclusion that open government is expendable.

To begin with, I would have never imagined that government web sites would be included among the shut services. Nevertheless, after reading these "4 apolitical reasons for the shutdown of federal websites", I should recognise there are reasons for it. In a time when the cloud looks as the way to go, when some people even speaks about a shared data area for govs based on cloud computing in Europe, we should be worry specially about the first of the reasons. What could happen with public services if all of them are cloud dependant? What could happen in countries more and more indebted if at some point they fail to pay the bill for cloud services? And this is not science fiction. In this moment, part of the budget cutting is done in the ICT departments. The decreasing budgets has a consequence less quality of service, but the service still goes on because the government owns the infrastructure. Certainly, this is not what happen if the services are in the cloud, as it is the case of So the first lesson is clear, thinks twice which services are you going to migrate to the cloud.

The lack of a real continuity plan is the second lesson we can learn. Of course, the majority of the readers will deny this point, but the facts are the facts. The majority of the US federal websites are closed, and there is no way a citizen obtain information about where a federal office it or the procedures for obtaining some kind of grants. It is as if a hurricane has destroyed the active and backup data centers of some agencies. Are there any solution to this situation? Could it be possible to design a continuity plan taking into consideration situations like this? Some ideas for it could be found in this article. I like the idea of building all the government web sites using open source software, and having an NGO to make daily backups of them in order to recover the service in this kind of situations.

Last but not least, the third lesson is the need of getting used to crowdsourcing to solve emergency situations. As i stated above, the government shutdown is a special kind of these situations. Once the federal web sites are shutdown, the civic apps for coordinating people are growing in importance. But it is only possible to have these apps ready if previously we have promoted its existence. Therefore, in order to be able to use crowdsourcing as a crutch in emergency situations, we need to develop the crowdsourcing capacities in the society well in advance. This article has some experiments on the topic that deserves a reading.

These are, for the moment, my three lessons from the US government shutdown. Which are yours?

jueves, 3 de octubre de 2013

Enabling #BigData as new source of growth

Several months ago, the OECD published the study "Exploring Data-Driven Innovation as a New Source of Growth. Mapping the Policy Issues Raised by Big Data". Without any doubt, it could be considered as one of the best studies to understand how important is already the data economy in our life and why governments have to take measures to create the right environment in order to unleash the promise of growth and innovation that lies hidden behind the growing amount of digital information.

To begin with, the OECD clarifies the characterisation of Big Data. Beyond the classic three V´s (volume, velocity, variety), it adds an important new V to this characterisation: Value. What is more, it highlights that this the only important feature that should drive the interest for Big Data. The Moore Law guarantees that volume, velocity and variety are mainly temporal conditions, it is sure that the storage and processing will reach new frontiers that will dwarf what we considered nowadays a large pool of data, and therefore the value of the data is what should drive the data strategy.

As in any OECD report, the document is plenty crowded of figures in order to provide evidence of its statements. It is always dificult to underline one of them, but only one estimation should be enough to understand the need to promote the data economy and the data culture:  the output and productivity of firms that adopt data-driven decision making are 5% to  6% higher than would be expected from their other investments in and use of information technology. In a time when we are looking for levers to overcome the biggest economic crisis since the II World War, taking  advantage of a new source of economic activity must be a priority for governments.

But Big Data is not only important because it allows the dawn of a new kind of organisations, the data-driven organisations (although I would have prefered the usage of the term data-enabled organisations). As the document shows, it has a clear impact in other sources of growth due to its role as a cornerstone of the digitalisation of the organisations. The data culture underpins the possibility to raise the capabilities of the public and private sector by enhancing research and innovation, paving the way to new products and services, transforming the processes of the organisations and, last but not least, making more personal the relationship with the customers. The OECD report provide a good number of cases for each of these augmented and new organisational abilities, but it is not difficult to find more articles with more examples.

Finally, the study provide some advice for policy-makers on the issue. Another recent document reminds that governments have several roles in the data market: Producer, consumer and facilitator. Therefore, it should use all these leverages to boost the shift to a data economy. And this is what the OECD recommends:
  • as a facilitator,  government should put in place privacy protection law, increase the availability of data skills and  boost the amount of data available with the creation of the right conditions in the telecommunications in order to reap all the benefits of the Internet of the Things
  • as a producer, government should publish for re-use as much public sector information as legally possible
  • as a consumer, government should measure the benefits of its big data implementations

P.S. After writing this post I read an article about the different definitions for Big Data. It deserves to be here.
palyginti kainas