Five Qs: David Behen on Techonomy’s Return to Detroit

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David Behen, CIO for the state of Michigan, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about the third annual Techonomy Detroit, a summit that brings together leaders from business, technology, government, and academia to discuss how technology can boost economic growth, job creation, and urban revival.

For more information about the event, to be held Sept. 16 at the Community Arts Auditorium at Wayne State University, click here.

1. DDN: Why is it important for a conference like Techonomy to come to Detroit?

DB: There’s a lot of buzz around Detroit and Michigan right now. There’s also a lot of discussion about if Detroit is going to be one of the premier high tech areas, and I think that generates a lot of excitement. So we have to ask, “How do we keep the momentum going?” And I think it’s (through) events like Technonomy and things like that. It’s by everyone coming together, talking positively about collaboration and partnerships, and continuing the momentum we have with the economy in Michigan right now. There’s a lot of work to do, but there’s a lot of passionate people out there, so I think we’re going to continue to move forward.

2. DDN: What’s the main topic of discussion at this year’s conference?

DB: The main focus is on how do we collaborate and work together to continually improve Michigan’s economy.

3. DDN: How have collaborations benefited the state?

DB: We have something called the Kitchen Cabinet, where CIOs from the public sector, private sector, and education sector get together once a month and talk about how we can work together on some of the opportunities out there, be it cyber security or talent retention. That kind of collaboration is happening throughout the state and, quite frankly, I think Techonomy has helped foster some of that.

4. DDN: What part will you play in this year’s conference?

DB: They’ve asked me to speak on open data and how we can use open data to improve customer service in the public sector, breed entrepreneurship, and things like that. In Michigan, we have an open data website at michigan.gov/openmichigan, which basically makes data available so we can be transparent to the public. Obviously, this is not personally identifiable information, but data (that applies to the government’s performance, spending, etc.). A lot of cities and states have sites like this, but Michigan is really making an effort on enterprise information management, which is asking, “How can we better use this data to serve our customers?”

5. DDN: How can people use this information?

DB: Sometimes, the open data we put out there breeds entrepreneurship. The federal website grants.gov is an example of open data. They put all of this data out there and then companies look at that and are able to build these applications and websites to build a business. It’s pretty exciting. 

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