Accepted for SXSW! What The Government Can Learn From Amazon

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been asked to return to SXSW and present again!  This year’s topic has to do with improving communication and data access to American citizens for records retained and stored by the U.S. Government.

SXSW Session Submission

Here’s the original link, What The Government Can Learn From Amazon.


Adria Richards,


Have you ever bought something on Amazon and wondered, “Why isn’t buying a passport as easy as this?” With over 300 million people in the United States, there is certainly room for improvement how their lives are recorded, updated and exchanged.

If the Arpanet was created to provide a centralized, communications network, why are we not taking advantage of this access to lower costs and reduce data errors?

Amazon processes, ships, and delivers packages all over the world and can now predict delivery within 12 hours of ordering.

Why does your driver’s license take two weeks?

We will explore what advances in digital data records and key benefits including: savings on redundant data entry and mistakes, less identity theft and fraud, rewarding efficiency and creating social benchmarks.

The other side of this data coin includes managing expectations, privacy, security and opt-out from such programs. RFID’s in passports, pets and popcorn seem like the stuff of science fiction. GPS location tracking in cell phones are common place and you can throw a device into your kid’s backpack for peace of mind they made it to school.

With over 170 million smartphones sold in 2009, there is clear evidence people are eager to manage their lives on the go and personal records maintained by the government is a great starting point.

Questions Answered

  • What is broken in the current system of personal data record management by the US Government and what are some quick wins to explore?
  • What do citizens want from their government? (less mistakes, faster turn around)
  • What data sets are ideal starting points? (Birth certificates, drivers licences, immunization records, passports)
  • What are the obstacles and how can they be overcome? (Cost, politics, contractor selection)
  • How did Amazon develop their infrastructure and how can it be adapted to government?

You will see more on the blog about this session so stay tuned by subscribing via RSS.

SXSW Interactive runs from March 11th – 15th, 2011 although the entire conference/festival/experience runs through the 20th.

Browse the full list of sessions for SXSW Interactive.