It’s not all that often that we are able to bring Craig Mundie, our Chief Research and Strategy Officer, and Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and Founder, together at the same event. When it happens, it is a delight not only for our customers, but for Microsoft staff as well. That’s what happened this morning on the second day of our Government Leaders Forum at the Lansdowne Resort near Leesburg, Virginia.
The morning session opened with presentations from the Honorable Luis G. Fortuño, Governor of Puerto Rico and Jacques Wagner, Governor of Bahía State, Brazil. Both leaders discussed the ramifications of the current world economic crisis on their countries. Both called the situation severe. However, both also said that they must continue to invest in information technology in order to streamline government, enable greater transparency, and foster innovation. The two keynotes were followed by a panel discussion moderated by our General Manager of Worldwide Government, Matt Miszewski.
After a short break, Bill Gates addressed the gathering. He decided to focus mainly on education for this event, stating that “education is key to economic development” and later commenting that education was also a critical factor in creating social equality. Education and healthcare both lag other industries in their adoption and use of contemporary information technology. Mr. Gates cited a number of innovative programs that are underway around the world, some of them supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to help students and teachers bring IT into the classroom.
After Mr. Gates spoke, Craig Mundie came on stage to give the audience of glimpse of how “mesh networks”, mobile phones and powerful analytic tools might be used to help government agencies as well as private citizens respond to regional disasters like hurricanes. He then went on to demonstrate another scenario showing how public health officials might use advanced analytic and visualization tools to monitor a community outbreak of a flu-like illness. In this example, real-time data was gathered from multiple community sources (public health, hospitals, clinics, weather centers, pharmacies, schools, employers, etc.) to assess the severity of the outbreak. He was also able to virtually bring in an expert from the CDC. Craig and the virtual doctor were able to share data, collaborate, and determine the likely severity and spread of the outbreak.
I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Mundie’s demo team during the development of this particular presentation. It is always satisfying to see all the elements come together to create a very informative, and inspiring glimpse of our not-too-distant future.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation