Whitehouse Technology

Courtesy The Obama-Biden Transition Project
Courtesy The Obama-Biden Transition Project

The presidential inauguration and issues surrounding our new president filled the technology headlines this week. The inaugural event drew millions to the Web seeking news and live video streams. Most major news sites were overwhelmed by requests and brought to a near standstill. CNN reports that it served up a record 1.3 million concurrent live streams at its peak just prior to the President’s inaugural address. Over the course of the day, CNN satisfied 21.3 million video requests in all. Similar amounts of traffic was pouring into Web servers at ABC, CBS, Fox Business, the L.A. Times, NBC, National Public Radio, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

As President Obama delivered his address to the world, a newly designed Web site was unveiled at whitehouse.gov. The Web site features the new administration’s ideals of transparency, communication, and participation. It is at whitehouse.gov that you can find the President’s weekly video address provided through a YouTube stream. The site also features the president’s blog, and information about the administration’s priorities.

On their first full day on the job, the new president, his cabinet and staff were faced with numerous technological hurdles. Many offices in the Whitehouse had no phone service. The computers available were running outdated Microsoft software. There were very few notebook computers and no wireless network. The new administration, known for its cutting edge use of the latest technologies, and who are predominantly Mac users, will have their work cut out for them, bringing their new office space up to date while maintaining the high-level of security required.

President Obama, was pleased to learn that he will be allowed to continue to use his Blackberry. The deal that he struck with Whitehouse security has some strict conditions. Only his senior staff and a small group of personal friends are allowed to communicate with the president over the device through voice, text messaging and email. Those in this inner circle will be subjected to a briefing by White House security on how communications are to be conducted. Finally, the device itself has been locked down with special security software to safeguard communications.

Our new president is focused on technology issues both in the White House and across the country. He has requested that Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy prepare a white paper on the benefits the U.S. government can derive from adopting open source software. The new administration has released a six point outline of its position on homeland security. One of the points is directed at building a secure, trustworthy, and accountable cyber-infrastructure. The new administration has also proposed a broadband stimulus package worth $6 billion to deliver high-speed Internet to unserved and underserved US populations. The package is currently being debated in House. Republicans are opposed to the package due to its inclusion of provisions for network neutrality, open access, and minimum speeds.

At the conclusion of its first week in office, it is clear that the new administration will provide technology journalists with plenty to write about in coming weeks, months, and years.

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