Empowering Innovation One Great Idea At A Time

Katherine McIntire | Nextgov | March 19, 2013

When a State Department employee assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, worried that pollution there might harm his children if they played outside, he did what any innovative, over-achieving tech-savvy parent might do -- he created a software application to record air quality as measured by Environmental Protection Agency monitors installed at the facility. 

When the app, which was intended for U.S. personnel, proved especially popular among Chinese environmentalists and equally unpopular among Chinese government officials, staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing took notice. Why not link the EPA data being collected at all U.S. locations in China into a central system and publish the information electronically? Embassy personnel took their proposal to the IT Innovation Fund at State’s Office of eDiplomacy.  

“They came in and said, ‘This has really ticked off the Chinese Government,’ said Richard Boly, director of the eDiplomacy office. But quietly, China had also dramatically increased funding for its leading environmental institution. [...]