Web services offers one of today’s best means of providing low-cost IT integration, a capability that is coming just in time, as layer upon layer of applications, information and processes build up within organizations. With its size, multiple roles, ever-accumulating records, requirement for integration across multiple points and obligation to serve multiple constituencies?government to citizen, government to business, government to government and government to employee?government is a great place to use Web services. And, with this robust set of needs, it is not surprising that a recent Accenture study found that 60 percent of top government executives rate Web services as a high priority, which is higher than any other market group.
The temptation, however, is to lead with a technology and then focus on exploring its new capabilities. Miami-Dade County seems to have successfully resisted this urge and is leading with business processes and building applications that demonstrate a wide range of organizational value rather than new technical features. What better way to lead applications than by providing police officers in the field the ability to quickly determine if a driver is a first-time offender, a criminal on the run or a potential terrorist, or enabling contractors access to storm protection permits online, available during hurricane season.
This alignment with critical business processes continues, as Miami-Dade developers, reexamining the processes themselves, consider new Web services applications. In 1984, I had the privilege of producing a promotional video for a mainframe vendor that featured the leading-edge use of innovative office automation to promote interagency integration. The site was what is now known as Miami-Dade County. Twenty years later, they seem to be still making all the right moves in this space.