Gov. Ernie Fletcher's keynote address highlights annual technology conference
On April 25, the Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) partnered with Government Technology magazine and key industry sponsors to host the sixth annual Kentucky Digital Government Summit in Lexington. Attendees at this year's conference gained valuable insight from keynote speeches by Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher and NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss. This year's agenda also included the first-ever Best of Kentucky technology awards ceremony, which recognized individuals and projects displaying exemplary leadership and innovation in the use of technology.
The gathering of IT leaders from across the commonwealth provided a forum for collaboration and the sharing of knowledge about technology solutions and business practices. The conference provided numerous opportunities for attendees to interact with each other and key vendors on technology solutions and strategies that could be used by public sector IT professionals to increase efficiency and improve services.
In his opening remarks, Kentucky Commissioner of Technology Mike Inman welcomed the record-setting crowd of more than 300 attendees from across the commonwealth. Inman encouraged everyone to use the one-day conference as an opportunity to gain valuable insight into technologies and services with which they weren't familiar, and increase their overall level of IT knowledge.
Gov. Fletcher challenged attendees to use technology in innovative ways to ensure that Kentucky remains competitive in the 21st century global economy. He gave many examples of how Kentucky is excelling in today's increasingly digital world. While encouraging the use of technology, Gov. Fletcher stressed the importance of using technology in ways that directly affect the bottom line to help avoid raising taxes. Fletcher often referred to his well publicized Prescription For Innovation, which describes the strategies Kentucky is using to increase the availability of high-speed broadband technology and deliver more electronic government services. Gov. Fletcher also praised Kentucky's IT consolidation efforts, which promise to save millions on state government's IT infrastructure support costs.
NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss inspired and entertained the audience with an impressive multimedia presentation about his space travels and the importance of teamwork in space mission success. Searfoss described many parallels between space flight and technology projects for conference attendees. For example, he stressed the importance of forming focused, nimble teams that utilize rapid prototyping and are not afraid to "fail forward." He also reminded attendees that in any high-risk project, one of the most critical traits that team members must possess is trustworthiness. During his well-received presentation, Col. Searfoss displayed both insight and wit as he described his "4-P" keys for peak performance: perspective, purpose, people and program.
In the conference's plenary session, Mark Rutledge, deputy commissioner of COT, led a panel of distinguished Kentucky leaders in a lively group discussion on emergency preparedness. The panel included (retired) Maj. Alecia Edgington, executive director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security; Jim Graham, director, IT Resource Center for Homeland Security, University of Louisville; Charles Winter, assistant director of operations, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management; and Charles Kendell, staff assistant to the commissioner, Kentucky Department of Public Health.
The group discussed the role of information technology in Kentucky's emergency preparedness efforts. Panel members shared experiences and lessons learned from recent natural disasters and terrorist attacks in the discussion. They cited many fascinating facts and figures to make their points and gave attendees a wealth of valuable information that could be used on the job. Although technology was the focus of the discussion, panel members stressed that technology could not take the place of leadership, teamwork and collaboration in addressing Kentucky's emergency preparedness needs.
Throughout the day, conference attendees participated in breakout sessions on a number of timely subjects, including:
- Mobile workforce trends and opportunities;
- Voice over IP (VoIP) and convergence;
- Project management;
- COT's service and delivery model;
- Recruiting and retaining an IT workforce;
- Data integration and data warehousing;
- Broadband and wireless in the commonwealth;
- Identity management;
- Crisis management and disaster recovery;
- Security and privacy in digital government; and
- Electronic records management and preservation.
The conference concluded with an executive reception, which allowed attendees an opportunity to meet one another and interact with the many vendor representatives present.