NTEN-SF: EFF Keynote

I had a really busy two weeks. It ended finally on Friday with the NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network) Conference on Emerging Technology. I got to hang with some of my favorite folks from the NonProfit Tech world but more on that later. One of the good things was we keynote talk from Kevin Bankston from the EFF.

He was less articulate then Daniel Solve about why the courts have ruled that information held by third parties are not protected under the 4th amendment. It is because the courts interpret a third party even the service provider of knowing your phone number (because they are providing you that service) as not private. In the digital age this third party status expands to so many many things.

He talked about the laws they have and are considering about e-mail. They basically mandate the service providers keep copies of everything that comes to your in-box and the records of where you travel on the net. He gave a great analogy about this. It is like the government is mandating the post office to photocopy every piece for mail you ever get and store it for 10 years in case some government agency needs to search it.

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Database and Identity in Civil Society

On Monday I was at Advocacy Dev II. I got to meet Steve Anderson who has just joined ONE/NorthWest an network of 300+ environmental groups in the Cascadia – Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

I thought I would post his introduction to give you enterprise guys who read this blog a sense of what the IT folks in Civil Society are dealing with. They are in some ways simpler then identity integration for 30 year old legacy systems. I am excited about the potential do deploy user-centric identity in this sector.

My name is Steve Andersen, the newest member of the ONE/Northwest team. I joined the crew in June to head up our work implementing databases to help our clients strengthen relationships with their constituents. We call the program Powering Relationships, and that’s will be the focus of the work–using technology tools to enable deep and valuable relationships between advocacy groups and their communities. ONE/Northwest has been doing database work for some time, but this year, with the support of MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, we’re going to really dig into the problem with the following goals:

  • Dramatically lowering the cost of database deployments
  • Standardizing our work on a small number of database platforms that show promise for the future
  • Raising the performance of relationship management in the northwest environmental community

I’m really excited about the program, and I’m getting started laying the groundwork for beginning database implementations in the fall of this year. Here’s how I’ve been thinking about the program in my first few weeks:

The Customer
Who are we going to work with? ONE/Northwest has deep relationships with many groups, and I look forward to meeting our customers (I’ve met a few already). Meeting and getting an understanding of who they are, who their communities are, and how they serve those communities will allow us to assist them with database technology to affect change.

The Opportunity
What are the opportunities that northwest environmental groups are facing? Are groups looking to improve donor management, online-advocacy, membership tracking, all of the above? ONE/Northwest has a fair bit of understanding of the existing opportunities from its years of work with groups. I plan to tap into that knowledge by getting up to speed on our current clients and the issues they have with databases. I’d also like to talk directly to some clients, to get the story from the source (always a good idea!).

The Platform
With an understanding of the Customer and the Opportunity, we can get to the technical business of picking a database platform on which to build. This is a critical step, as it is difficult (read: expensive) to change platforms down the road. It takes a bit of clairvoyance to know what platforms will be serving your needs in 3 years. But, there’s some science to it as well, and ONE/Northwest has made a number of platform choices that have worked out over the past few years. I’m confident we’ll make good choices around the database platform as well.

The Process
I’ll be building out a database consulting process that will take us from first contact with a group, through database needs assessment, scoping, implementation, training, and support. I won’t be building this from scratch (thank goodness!) as we’ve got 10 years of experience in this arena I’m really impressed with our consulting methodology and our customers have been very happy with our work in the past.

So, I’ll be busy this summer! I’m looking forward to it, and can’t wait to start implementing some real projects this fall. I’ll try to periodically update this site on new developments.