From Government Innovation to Emerging Technologies, Booz Allen’s Top 5 Takeaways from SXSW

Apr 25, 2019 11:00 AM ET

Every year, more than 40,000 artists, innovators, and entrepreneurs gather at SXSW to explore what’s next. For Booz Allen’s team on the ground, one promising theme at SXSW 2019 was the future of government. 

Highlights follow from Booz Allen’s top five SXSW takeaways.

Technology companies must serve the public. 

Amid a year of Facebook hearings, privacy issues, and more, former Secretary of Defense and Director of the Harvard Belfer Center Ash Carter challenged SXSW attendees to create disruptive technologies that serve public purpose. He also emphasized the need for bridges between government and the technology industry. 

“The government is the way we do things that can only be done collectively,” he said.

Accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) is a team sport. 

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao introduced the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council. This new body will address jurisdictional and regulatory gaps related to commercial sector innovation. 

“The pace of change going on in technology, transportation, and in our society is stunning,” she said, referencing intelligence machines such as autonomous vehicles and unmanned aircraft.

Mixed-reality (XR) technology is opening new dimensions.

AI and mixed-reality technology are bringing the physical and virtual worlds together. “This blended reality will be able to augment and amplify the experiences we have and the world around us,” said Cameron Kruse, a technical product manager at Booz Allen.

Right now, the government is exploring XR for training for warfighters and first responders. Experts predict that integrated technologies will impact healthcare, education, space travel, and beyond.

Reliance on Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) is remarkable, and terrifying.

Positioning (your current location), navigation (your desired position), and timing (maintaining an accurate, precise timeframe) technologies enable everything from the GPS in your phone to air traffic control systems and the Wall Street trading exchange.

Even the slightest PNT disruption could have significant impacts, explained Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett, Navy Cyber Security Division Director. This creates opportunities for innovation, like the assured PNT solutions she and her colleagues across the Department of Defense are working on. Examples include alternative systems that ensure the accuracy and availability of GPS data.

Blockchain can help tackle the opioid epidemic.

A blockchain—a shared database that records exchanges of data—is a tool that has primarily been used in financial transactions, like buying and selling Bitcoin. Victoria Adams, U.S. government market lead for ConsenSys, believes blockchain technology can be a powerful tool in fighting the opioid epidemic.  

Specifically, a blockchain can provide a secure medical identity for people experiencing opioid addiction. This closes the gap in medical records that can make it difficult to seek treatment and recovery services.

Read more about Booz Allen’s top five SXSW takeaways at Booz Allen.