On the Frontier of Electronic Government

May 1996
CYBERSCAPE COLUMN

On the Frontier of Electronic Government

Many agencies have dipped their toes into cyberspace, setting up home pages on the World Wide Web that offer the public an electronic glimpse of their operations. But cyberspace veterans like the Geological Survey have established extensive Websites showing what the future of electronic government might look like.

USGS, the government's largest earth science research agency, has put together a site (http://www.usgs.gov), comprising about 100,000 Web pages contained on more than 70 servers throughout the country. It includes sites ranging from the Center for Coastal Geology to the Rocky Mountain Mapping Center to pages devoted to water resources in dozens of states.

For the casual Web surfer, the USGS site contains a host of fascinating data. In late March and early April, for example, the agency's Arizona district office put up a series of pages describing its project to conduct controlled flooding of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Users could access both historical information on streamflow and real-time data via satellite on the size and extent of the flooding. The Arizona office even conducted a contest for visitors to the site to predict how fast the flood crest would work its way through the canyon.

The main USGS page also includes an Ask-a-Geologist feature that enables users to get answers to basic geological questions. The questions are routed to USGS earth scientists, who respond via e-mail within a few days. The fine print on the page notes that certain questions, such as those with specific economic impact ("How much gold is left in the Homestake mine?) are off limits. And, USGS adds, "We encourage grade school and high school students to send in questions, but we can't write your reports for you!"

For students and teachers, the agency offers The Learning Web, a section of the site dedicated to education. This spring, The Learning Web focused on global environmental change, with information about the earth's development and satellite images of the Brazilian rain forest.

But the USGS site is more than just a collection of slick tools. The agency is using the Web to distribute critical information. Early this year, for example, when heavy rains led to flood threats on the East Coast, USGS made near real-time data about rising rivers available to federal, state and local agencies. Because it provides such services, USGS made sure to keep its Web site up and running during the recent federal shutdowns, when other federal servers went down.

In a typical month, the site servers process about 500,000 requests, making the USGS site one of the most popular in government.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.