An EPA senior official who earlier this month challenged a Washington online community to "put your desktop into the cloud" -- or work completely on the Web -- has generated some grassroots support.
This is not the first time Brand Niemann, an EPA senior enterprise architect who focuses on improving access to environmental data, has attempted to revolutionize Washington operations.
When storms flooded EPA headquarters in 2006, displacing employees, Niemann was already in the cloud -- which refers to "the Web." He was one of the first feds to use wikis, or online pages that anyone can add to or edit, for collaborating with colleagues remotely.
Niemann dared Washingtonians to take such continuity of operations even further, by regularly using cloud-based hardware, software and other services. But he was presenting to somewhat likeminded individuals at the Washington Semantic Web Meetup, an advocacy group that promotes development of the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web, an outgrowth of the existing Web, labels -- or tags -- all information with a common, machine-readable language to make online data easier to find, share and combine.
The real challenge will be convincing the entire federal bureaucracy to give up control to the cloud.
Niemann called for desktops to go to the cloud in honor of the Dec. 8 release of a White House open government directive that instructs agencies on how to foster collaboration and transparency in government.