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Question of the Day
Behind Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s efforts to reduce crime and increase test scores in the District is an effort to improve the technology involved in the process.
The city’s new chief technology officer, Vivek Kundra, is leading that effort.
Mr. Kundra believes technology can give a boost to Mr. Fenty’s broader causes. For example, he plans to increase the number of ShotSpotters — noise sensors that notify police when a gunshot is detected — and has formed a partnership with GoogleEarth to determine which police officers are closest to a crime scene.
His first act in office, however, was to improve the quality of technology in city schools.
“When I got here, we found that 85 percent of the public school’s computers were infected with viruses,” Mr. Kundra said. “We went out and got 6,000 new computers for them.”
But Mr. Kundra is especially motivated by the changes he can make for the city in the long term.
“There are big, exciting things happening here right now,” he said. “A big part of what I do is look five or 10 years ahead and make sure our plans are lined up with our short-term strategy.”
Mr. Kundra, who was born in New Delhi and moved to Tanzania a year later, said his foreign upbringing helped shape his philosophy of careful, goal-oriented investment. He noted that Third World nations stretch much smaller sums to meet the needs of much larger populations than Western nations do.
“One of the major problems we face is adoption” of the technologies the District acquires, said Mr. Kundra, who is responsible for all of the city’s technology purchases of $25,000 or more. “We want to make sure that the people will actually be using the programs before we make a significant investment.”
Mr. Kundra previously served as assistant secretary of commerce and trade for Gov. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat.
Mr. Kundra earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology and a master’s degree in information systems from the University of Maryland.
Mr. Kundra is single and lives in the city’s Penn Quarter.
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