Why COVID Exposure Notification Apps Didn’t Meet Expectations in North America, And What We Should Learn From Them
A fair amount has been written about the recently retired COVID Alert, the Government of Canada’s COVID exposure notification service based on the Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) framework. Several pieces have lamented that “only” 6.9 million people, or a little more than 22% of all adults in Canada, downloaded the app, and speculation abounds about why more people didn’t download it. I think that focus misses some much more important, if less sound-bite-friendly, issues.[read more]
The DOL today released open source sample code for implementing important pieces of the unemployment insurance systems they require states to implement. I am overjoyed. This is important, valuable precedent for changing how the federal government supports the policies it leaves to the states to implement. (See the last couple paragraphs of my post about this very subject.)
Moreover, a second lede is folded into this code launch: some of the released sample code enables states to use login.gov as an identity proofing provider, with Arkansas leading the way as the pilot case. Login.gov having its first state-level client is a huge step for federal shared services.
The U.S. and Canadian governments are both considering legislation to enable it. It’s an important development that can’t happen soon enough.
With last week came the good news that the Government of Canada, in an omnibus budget bill, has included language granting the Canadian Digital Service (and its parent department) a new and important capability: Soon, knock wood, a legislative amendment will enable CDS to provide its digital platform services like GC Notify, GC Articles, and GC Forms not just to other federal departments, but to provincial, territorial, indigenous, and local governments throughout Canada, fulfilling a commitment the current government made in its 2022 budget.
The United States is not far behind. There’s a bill in the Senate right now with bipartisan support which, if passed, will enable federal agencies — like GSA’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS), home of login.gov, cloud.gov, search.gov, Federalist, and other valuable services — to make their technology services available to state, local, tribal, and territorial (“SLTT”) governments.[read more]
Last month I stepped down as CEO of the Canadian Digital Service. Canada was in election mode, and there are restrictions on what is and isn’t appropriate for public servants to talk about in public during such periods. But the election is in the rear view mirror now, and a new cabinet will soon be appointed. This seems like a good moment to reflect openly on the last three and a half years, and to express my gratitude for an unforgettable experience.[read more]