Friday, October 7, 2011

Ada Lovelace 2.0 - Her Head in the Clouds and Feet on the Ground

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. Last year I wrote an Ada Lovelace post on Jennifer Pahlka, one of the the visionary founders of Code for America. Jennifer actually wrote a post on Carolyn Lawson two years ago for Ada Lovelace Day and this year I want to write about Carolyn. Carolyn recently served as director of the California eServices office and deputy director of the state’s Technology Services and Governance Division and was previously the CIO of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). While at CPUC, she led an effort to bring cloud computing to the agency and brought serious expertise in website re-design in various projects for California state government. In July this year she began her job as CIO of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and I am super excited about her role here.

I first met Carolyn at the Gov 2.0 events that Tim O'Reilly convened and then started following her on Twitter and watching her great work in California. This year we had some great discussions in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the first Health FOO. Carolyn presented last year at the Gov 2.0 Expo during a panel on "Finding Value in the Cloud" and in the video below she was interviewed by Alex Howard of O'Reilly Media during the conference:

Carolyn pioneered things like crowd sourcing and greater use of cloud services when she was with California and now in Oregon we will benefit from her experience and vision. Carolyn was also a winner of the prestigious in 2009 for her work in with CPUC for developing a secure mobile environment so employees could work from anywhere on any device, and 2010  for her work at the California eServices Office. One of the many innovations they instituted was a widget created for the state's Employment Development Department that combined the department's news, Twitter and YouTube services for the public. Within two months, the widget had received 2 million impressions and now after being placed on over six thousand websites it has received tens of millions of impressions. The office also worked with six other state organizations to develop and launch a website, at, in support of the Office of Economic Development, after that office was created through the consolidation of other departments. Carolyn is able to use innovation and technology to do more with less.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that we need to apply to healthcare. With decreasing budgets and increasing needs we are approaching a crisis point in healthcare and as the landscape continues to shift Carolyn will be able to bring her insights and approach to help solve some of these vexing problems.

One area that Carolyn has been a thought leader in is in cloud computing. Carolyn's motto is "You don't say we can't, you say we can if..." Carolyn told me, "Could computing has now overcome many of the issues around security and now there is great opportunity for both government and business."  John Foley from Information Week interviewed here after her panel discussion back in 2008 at Enterprise 2.0's "Evening in the Cloud." which you can view below. Since then the industry has matured and some of the barriers to moving into the cloud have fallen away. "Regarding cloud computing 'No!' should not be engraved in your thinking. Maybe in some cases it is 'Not today,' but always be willing to look to the future." I couldn't agree more...