Tech Speak 101 for Local Government Digital Projects
For local government departments looking to kickoff digital solutions, learning basic tech speak can improve project meetings with developers.
Government agencies deploy cutting edge technologies to improve services and reduce operating expenses. But that doesn't mean everyone using or proposing new systems and tools can speak tech. The following list of terms and resources may help local government officials work better with developers and technologists and navigate an easier path to digital modernization.
This is an approach to development where software is released and tested where ongoing updates based on feedback are made. Associated with the term agile is the term "Scrum," which is the practical process for Agile Development.
Apps vs. Websites
Should an agency create a mobile app or a website? It depends on the budget and the goals. Apps can be more expensive to build, but they may offer an agency sharper insights into customer needs. Conversely, website-based tools like Pittsburgh's online building and zoning tool, can quickly modernize an entire department and vastly increase its efficiency.
Short for Application Programming Interface, API's are how local governments like Douglas County promote public events using Amazon Alexa. An API is a catalyst that makes it possible for customers to interface with organizations via a conduit.
Back End vs Front End
While these terms may seem obvious to some, they are really critical to understand when agencies sit down with developers to discuss components of digital solutions. While the front end is customer-facing, there is more to talk about than design elements because development more often than not involves coding and functionality. The back-end is the server, data and the application that manages the data.
You might also hear the term "Full Stack," which handles not only the front end and back end development, but handles server operations and solution architecture.
Databases and Servers
There are many types of databases, such as relational and operational, and they hold data, while a server -- which may be a physical device or used via cloud -- is where the code behind the application lives.
IT Charge-Back Model
This is a way for governments to centralize and structure the costs of IT services, hardware or software to an agency (i.e., business unit) in which they are used. There are various cost-recovery models to use, and lots of business strategies to implement them successfully.
JSON and AJAX
Language vs. Framework
Language is syntax and semantics while a framework is a set of computer language brought together to streamline coding tasks and reduce developer time investments. However, the framework does not always provide the specifications desired.
Open source is software where the source code is made freely available to use and enhance.