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“Regulation 3.0″ — Real-Time Data Open To Government, Public — Could Prevent Future Oil Spills, Says Tech Expert

June 8th, 2010 · No Comments

David Stephenson, a leading thinker in how technology can be used for emergencies and transparent government in general, has an article in Federal Computer Week, “Future Oil Spills Could Be Averted By Regulation 3.0 Apps.”

In the piece, Stephenson, the principal of Stephenson Strategies, argues that “the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico highlights the most important problem in regulating offshore drilling: a lack of transparency and real-time information” and that the situation demands a new approach that he calls “Regulation 3.0″. The article continues:

It capitalizes on a number of features of the emerging Web 3.0, in which everything will have its own Internet address and can be monitored and controlled remotely via the Web. Regulation 3.0 applications would give federal and state regulators direct, real-time access to the exact information that companies receive so regulators would no longer depend on companies feeding — and perhaps filtering — the information to them.

Structured data makes such a shift possible. Think of it as a 21st-century bar code, in which information about a piece of data is permanently attached to that data through tags. The tags give the data context and mean that someone no longer needs to manually update or paste the data elsewhere. It will flow anywhere those tags are inserted.

The Web 3.0 approach would allow officials to monitor in real time every part of an oil rig’s safety system. Such surveillance could have revealed the faulty battery in the BP rig’s blowout preventer and other problems that contributed to the rig’s failure. A procedure could have been in place to allow regulators to automatically shut down the rig when it failed the pressure test rather than leaving that decision to BP.

Most importantly, Regulation 3.0 would ensure transparency. During my years as an environmental crisis manager, I learned that transparency is the only way companies can earn public confidence because we don’t trust anything they tell us. A “don’t trust us, track us” strategy, in which regulators have unfettered access to data, would help build that confidence.

Stephenson was also interviewed about the article on Federal News Radio’s DorobekInsider and the audio file can be found here.

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Tags: Business Preparedness · Preparedness 2.0

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