Hardware, Software and the Cloud


Ever wrestle with a technology glitch (computer, phone or whatever), call for help and hear, “Oh – that’s a hardware problem,” or “Can’t help you; that’s a software problem”? This always reminds me that the two realms must work in sync to be useful. Alone, they’re just objects and intentions. Together, they’re the lifeblood of modern society.

Think of the National Physical Activity Plan as software. The Plan has no factory, no regional offices, no inventory. None of the eight sectors ships a product. The Plan is vision, strategies and intentions. It doesn’t appear in photographs or mirrors (no cause for alarm). Yet, it can transform America.

Giving the Plan life and legs is the hardware – everything from health clubs and schoolyards to trails, teams and group activities. The eight sectors represent every culture and community, with the infrastructure and programming to help all of us to be more physically active, more fit and healthy. The hardware is the tangible stuff – the places, equipment, institutions, and worksites – that implement the strategies and tactics making up the Plan.

Put together, it’s marvelous. What music download can raise your aerobic capacity? Does creating a multimedia presentation increase endorphin levels? Has 150 minutes of email a week been shown to prevent and treat chronic diseases? Show me a social media platform that has the potential to cut health care costs for employers, workers and society.

The cloud

Recently, I’ve become aware of cloud computing – accomplishing tasks through shared resources and processes. Cloud users benefit from an infinitely scalable network while owning only a computer and a connection. Likewise, the National Physical Activity Plan is a great cloud of opportunities and facilities. Uniting what is already under way, from worksite wellness programs and walking clubs to health care counseling and youth sports leagues, the Plan comprises a great network of opportunities to meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines. As we implement the Plan, we’re building a super-network that reaches into every neighborhood in the U.S., bringing the hope of fitness and better health to each of us.

That’s enough analogy for one sitting. Time to get up and move for a while – if only I can get my computer to talk to the printer…