Friday, December 19, 2014

Top 10 for Digital Government in Utah in 2014

Today, digital is embedded into every aspect of government in Utah. It is the most effective way for reaching out to the public we serve in ways that could never be achieved before. Our services, our information; legislative, executive and judicial branches of government all use digital technologies to enhance the way the operate, to increase efficiencies and to interact in new and exciting ways.

Utah has become a truly digital state, but before I go further, I want to share a video about our state that was posted to YouTube yesterday.





In addition to being a state of great natural beauty, Utah is a state of hard-working people that have embraced the transition to digital and are now using it to create an advanced economy that leverages technology and innovation in numerous ways.

In 2014, 12 of every 13 Utah households have access to broadband. Almost every home has a PC and the state is increasingly mobile. We implemented a new Utah.gov portal design to reflect these realities using bold graphics and enhanced focus on interactive services.


Now, here is my top 10 list for 2014 (the 13th version, beginning in 2002):
  1. Progress in Mobile Design. Following the release of our Mobile Strategy in 2013, we have been tracking our progress in adopting responsive design. We have gone from 13% to 60% of sites with responsive design and utilization has continued to grow. That is no small task for a domain with over 30 million pages of content and over 1100 interactive online services. A couple of examples of these new sites include:

  2. The Digital State. The Center for Digital Government biannual survey is a comprehensive look at about everything the 50 states do with regard to digital technology. Utah was 1st in two of six categories: Enterprise ICT and Citizen Engagement. This is what they said after Utah was again recognized with an "A" grade:

    "The public expects to be able to interact with their government using new convenient technologies, and with the new services that states like Utah are delivering, that expectation is being met, Sander said. “Particularly Utah has done an awful lot with raising the bar on electronic services, on direct citizen engagement, not just from the push information at them standpoint, but actually opportunities with them to engage and transact and do business with government,” he said. “All three of the As have done a lot in that regard.”
  3. Legislature & Tech: the Online Democracy Award

    The Utah Legislature continues to fine new ways to use technology to improve public participation, collaborate more effectively, and promote open government. In 2013, the Utah Bill Watch app was a big hit. Improved website design and service delivery was also effective:

    From StateScoop: "The Utah Legislature’s website took home the 2014 Online Democracy Award for producing a superior legislative website during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2014 Legislative Summit in Minneapolis."
  4. Open Data Progress
    Shepherded by Senator Deidre Henderson and the Utah Transparency Board, SB70 passed the legislature with funding for more transparency and openness, including funding for a new open data portal which will go live on January 1, 2015 and a new central portal for open records requests that will be managed by the Utah State Archives.
  5. A New Mobile App for Hunting and Fishing. In October, the Division of Wildlife Resources, working with Utah Interactive, produced a new mobile app for iOS and Android that made a lot of hunters and fisherman happy. It produced 7,000 downloads in just a few days. Just this week, it was named the best mobile government app of 2014!
  6. A record number of users access the Utah.gov domain and its services. The people of Utah showed their approval of Utah's online government initiatives with a record number of unique visitors in 2015. This has produced 600 million page views just through November.
  7. Success with Google+ and Social Media. The state's Google+ page now has over 230,000 followers providing a great new channel for content distribution and feedback. In July, PTI announced that Utah received its 2014 Web 2.0+ award.
  8. Utah Big Data CompetitionFive departments, including Technology Services, UDOT, the Departments of Health, Environmental Quality, and Public Safety teamed up with Big Data Utah and the Utah Hadoop User Group for a big data competition to look at air quality in Utah. After 10 weeks of training, 6 teams worked to analyze over 400 separate datasets to develop analysis of Utah's air quality and inversion challenges.
  9. New website and online services for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
    UDAF had a busy year, producing a nice upgrade the Utah's Own website, a new mobile app for food safety inspections, and new online services. With the new services in place, beekeepers can update the locations of their hives online, companies that have any type of license with UDAF can pay for multiple license applications and renewals in one batch transaction, and first time license applications can be submitted electronically. While the hive registration service only benefits beekeepers, the two licensing services can benefit all companies that have licenses or registrations with UDAF.
  10. New DHRM website and Employee Gateway.Early in the year, the Department of Human Resource Management created two great new websites, enhancing the way the Department interacts with jobseekers and also creating a great new venue for employees to receive and track benefits and other information related to state employment. Both sites are excellent examples of responsive design for mobile users.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Looking Back at 2014


This is the first of three posts that I commit to do before the end of the year. I want to discuss some of the things that we have been doing over the past year. Then, I will complete my annual evaluation of the top 10 accomplishments for digital government in Utah for 2014. I've been doing this since 2002 when I first started to blog and I'm not quite done. Finally, I want to look ahead at 2015 and discuss some of the technologies that will be critical to the future of digital government, not just in Utah, but anywhere.

I'm still posting stuff on a daily basis. Regular updates on Twitter at @dfletcher.

There is so much more great content available about digital government now that I don't spend time generating as much of my own. And the range of activities that digital government has evolved into has grown. Open data, internet of things, cyber security, etc. are all critical components of what we have to include going forward. At the state level, this covers a tremendous amount of territory and without new resources we have to be increasingly efficient in the way we do things. Here in Utah, with one of the fastest growing populations in the US, most new dollars go to education, where the demand is the greatest. 

Big Data is one of the areas where we really need to improve our expertise in government to ensure that we are getting the most out of our resources and really utilizing them effectively. With that in mind, I created a new Flipboard a few months ago specifically focused on big data in government. Earlier this year, the state partnered with Big Data Utah, a Geek Events user group, to support a big data competition on air quality. With our high mountain valleys and regular winter inversions, air quality is a major quality of life issue. We had about six teams work on 300-400 data sets in a big data environment and develop some really great proposals. We are working on a business case to address big data more effectively as a state enterprise looking at a wide range of government-related issues.



Over the last 20 years, I have been fortunate to interact with many digital government employees from around the world, including many in Spain and Latin America.  With that in mind, and with the growing interest among Spanish speakers in digital government and open data, I also created a Flipboard aggregation of news about the topic in Spanish called Gobierno Digital.  It keeps me up to date on developments in those parts of the world, many of which are quite innovative. I have, for example, been quite interested in what Mexico is doing with its Estrategia Digital Nacional, hoping that it can have a positive impact on the country. Alex Howard, aka @digiphile, recently did a great interview with national coordinator @alelagunes. Barcelona, Spain continues to impress me with its innovation culture.


Last spring, not long after Utah developed the Ontime.Utah.gov app for Google Glass with Utah Interactive, there was a huge amount of interest in wearable technology. I did interviews with Chris Dorobek, Government Technology, Mobile Marketer, and others. Since that time, the interest has tapered off substantially. Months later, Glass is still in open Beta, and the future seems a little uncertain. Some suggest that it is a failed experiment, although others affirm that Glass will return in 2015 with a new platform. Regardless, wearables are a piece of the future, particularly with a nationwide effort to equip law enforcement with new body cams.



Saturday, July 05, 2014

2014 United Nations Survey on E-Government

Last week, the UN published it's 2014 survey on e-government. I've been more than a little interested on how this one would look at the world of egov.  The Obama administration has placed a fair degree of emphasis on digital government, including important new aspects such as mobile services and open data. Nevertheless, as Craig Thomler points out in his analysis of national trends, the US has been on a regular decline according to the UN when compared to other top ranked egovernment nations.

The question for US egovernment evangelists, is "why is this the case?" and "what are the implications?"  Next we need to determine what we can to about it and make the necessary efforts to improve the way we are delivering information and services, if we determine that the implications are, at all, significant.  I pay attention to third party assessments like this because they not only impact public sentiment, but also provide an opportunity for improvement.

Take a look at Thomler's chart showing how the US is trending:

Another important question to ask is "what are nations like Singapore, Australia, and South Korea doing well that we should be understanding and learning from?" Why is it that the UK, which vowed to become the global leader in digital government has also seen a decline in the survey? Estonia, which many see as a global leader in egovernment innovation is still only ranked #15. Spain a country which fell out of the top 20 in 2012 after being ranked #9 in 2010, is back in at #12.  Kudos to all my friends making egovernment in Madrid, Barcelona, and beyond.

I still have a lot of work to do in going through the survey, understanding its findings, and determining how I can incorporate its recommendations into my specific microcosm, which is the digital government of the state of Utah. I expect and hope to find some good ideas.  

The survey calls for a paradigm shift within the public sector which incorporates the following ideas:
  • Become catalysts for change, instead of mere service providers
  • Operate in an integrated, collaborative manner across departments and agencies
  • Become pro-active instead of reactive anticipating problems
  • Transform mind-sets and build a culture of collaboration, transparency, and accountability
I can point to ways where we have been working on and seen progress in every recommendation made in the survey, but I can also easily point out areas where we fall short of perfection, and until we reach that objective, there is still work to be done.



Monday, May 05, 2014

Utah.gov 2014: More than meets the eye

Utah recently completed a significant upgrade to its portal, Utah.gov.  At first, you will probably not realize how much has changed just by looking at the main page.  Yes, we were able to find a light weight, high resolution video and HTML5 gives us the ability to put it right there in the background without any significant impact on performance.  You'll see some new infographic imagery in the drop-down menus that give you a hint of what you'll find on the secondary pages, which underwent the biggest transformation.

Utah.gov - About Utah page image

The secondary pages are all carefully aligned using a twelve column grid structure with HTML5 that supports optimal responsive design on smart phones, tablets, as well as PC's and laptops.

Each secondary page has a custom-designed infographic that demonstrates alignment with State policy goals and objectives.  We have increased the use of maps, social media, open data, etc., not just on any single page, but throughout the site.  Our integrated master data index (MDI) allows us to use any one or category of resources in new ways anywhere where it makes sense to enhance the user experience.

Our outstanding design staff has added all new scalable iconography that improves the overall design of the site, while making it easier to discover what the user is looking for.

Using the MDI, we have added new categories of content, such as a new page for annual reports across the state.  Take a look:


Our annual updates to Utah.gov are paying off more than ever before.  In March 2014 alone, we had 1,780,859 unique visitors and over 65 million pages views, more than ever before.  In 2013, Utah.gov processed over 32 million online transactions, saving state government over $400 million.  Even more important, we were able to save Utah citizens and businesses millions of hours in valuable time, while improving service and satisfaction.

Growth in visitors to Utah.gov

Utah.gov design on a smart phoneOne of the biggest trends in 2013-14 has been the growth in the number of mobile users of Utah.gov.  For this reason, we have taken a mobile-first approach to design, making sure that the site is acceptable to the hundreds of thousands of Utahns who access the site from a smart-phone or tablet.  The portal is fully optimized for these users and the number of department-level websites now using responsive design is 5x what it was at the beginning of 2013.

Utah's egovernment service providers are fully dedicated to delivering the best to Utah citizens.  We support Governor Herbert's goals of improving service, providing better education, and making Utah the #1 state for business in the country.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Accenture Says US Dropping in Digital Government Performance

Accenture Digital Government Survey, 2014
In their January 2014 study on digital government, Accenture ranks 10 countries for digital government.  According to their results, the US now ranks #6 among these 10 countries, falling below Norway, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.  According to the study, only 28% of US citizens are satisfied with the quality of public services.  Certainly, that number differs dramatically from the numbers we have surveyed here in Utah.

Citizens are overwhelmingly satisfied with Utah's online services as are businesses that utilize our online services (over 90%).  Obviously, the poor implementation of services associated with the Affordable Care Act have impacted these numbers at a national level.  Failed websites and digital infrastructure at the federal level and in many states have eroded public satisfaction levels far lower than they have typically been.  At the same time, Utah has a much higher ratio of services online than many states which has helped produce higher levels of public satisfaction.  I think we are seeing very similar impacts now in states like Hawaii who are working to move more of their service portfolio online.

Here is a look at business satisfaction as surveyed recently by the CPPA of three states.


We need to get together in the US and accept the challenge laid down by Francis Maude and make a united and concerted effort to improve digital government service in this country.

Hawaii has faced this problem head on in the last 2-3 years and made a huge amount of progress. Check out this video which served as a "call to action"

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013 in Utah Government: Mobile Apps and Open Data

As I survey the landscape of digital government around the globe in 2013, there continues to be plenty of progress as government agencies recognize the value of making services and information available online.  In Utah, 2013 was a year of significant growth.  On one hand, we are experiencing record numbers of visitors to our Utah.gov domain, while on the other hand I am seeing some slowdown in the number of new services being added to our portfolio.  The open data movement has been a big driver globally.

In the midst of supporting all of the numerous business changes that occurred in Utah in 2013, there were also some major egovernment accomplishments.


  1. Senate Passes SB283: Open and Transparent Government becomes a hot topic.
    Senator Henderson's bill raised the level of awareness in Utah about open data.  A report was completed by the Utah Transparency Board and submitted to the Legislature in November.
  2. New Jobs.Utah.gov website features new services, responsive design.
    The Jobs subdomain is the busiest subdomain on Utah.gov. On a busy month, it has seen over 500,000 unique visitors and in 2012 processed over 11 million online job referrals.  Now that it features a responsive design, it will provide much better service for its fast growing contingent of mobile users.
  3. Air Quality App provides data to mobile Android and iOS users
    With winter air quality becoming a bigger issue during the inversion season, Utah now provides a great solution for Utahns to check the status of air alerts anytime, anywhere. 
  4. Utah.gov receives multiple international awards for design and innovation as best government website.
    The state portal continued to develop a comprehensive, data-driven approach to providing information and services to the public.  As a result, the site was named "Best Government Website" by the Web Marketing Association. Utilization of the Utah.gov site skyrocketed in 2013, with two months reaching 1.6 million unique viewers.
  5. DTS publishes statewide mobile strategy
    The state published a new mobile strategy in May and implemented MDM for improved mobile security and service delivery.
  6. Record number of unique visitors access the Utah.gov domain.
  7. Cabinet works to introduce many information security enhancements.
    A cabinet level team was organized to elevate the level of importance placed on information security throughout state government.
  8. Hundreds attend the 2013 Utah Digital Government Summit.
    Supported by eRepublic, the summit brought together people from across state and local government to share ideas on digital government.
  9. Utah Bill Watch becomes popular mobile app, wins national award.
    Developed in minimal time, this new mobile app provides real-time access and notifications throughout the legislative session, providing regular updates in the bill-making process.
  10. Utah.gov Google+ site attracts over 150,000 new followers.
Here is last year's top ten in Utah digital government.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Last 10 Years with Utah.gov

Ten years ago, there was no Facebook, no Twitter.  Tim O'Reilly had not even started talking about Web 2.0... that came a year later.  A lot has happened in ten years.  Millionaires have been made.  Services have come and gone.  I started blogging a year and a half earlier in about May of 2002.  I was still using Radio Userland back then.  Some of you may remember it as one of the first online blogging services. In December of 2003, I penned my first top 10 for digital government progress in the state of Utah. 

Here's the list:

  1. Utah wins Best of the Web.  In September, the Center for Digital Government named Utah's portal as first place among all 50 states.  A small delegation received the award at the Best of the Web award ceremony in New York City.
  2. Utah  announces the One Stop Business Registration service.  In August, Governor Leavitt announced this unique service which allows businesses to register seamlessly with 5 state agencies, 3 cities, and the IRS through one simple online process.  The State also rolled out Business.utah.gov, a new business portal at about the same time.
  3. Governor Walker signs an Executive Order creating UWIN - the Utah Wireless Integrated Network.  UWIN brings together dozens of state, local and federal agencies to provide wireless voice and data solutions in a way that greatly leverages existing resources.
  4. Val Oveson appointed CIO.  Val was appointed to the CIO position in January by Governor Leavitt
  5. Utah Cares, the first service provided under the eREP project comes online.  In November, Gov. Walker announced the availability of Utah Cares, a free tool to find state and community services.
  6. Proliferation of RSS news.  RSS becomes a preferred news format for Utah government, allowing user subscription and aggregation of news feeds.  The legislative and judicial branches added RSS feeds to their sites during the year as well.  Expect to see more of this in 2004.
  7. Online campground reservations at State Parks.  This popular service was made available to citizens in May 2003.
  8. One million online job referrals.  Jobs.utah.gov, introduced late in 2002 experience tremendous growth during a challenging year for Utah's economy.  By August 2003, one million job referrals had been made by this popular online service.
  9. 24x7 Live Help - During the summer, Utah introduced 24x7 live help on its portal, the first state in the country to do so.  A network of live help service has developed with many state agencies participating.
  10. More Agency Online Services - State agencies introduced dozens of new online services such as the Company & Agency Search completed by the Utah Insurance Department, DEQ's Generator Site Permitting System, and the Department of Agriculture and Food's License Renewal System.

Looking back, there have been some tremendous changes since then.  Utah.gov, which only had a few hundred thousand visitors a month back then, has become a prime destination for citizens with over 1000 online services and averaging over 1.4 million unique visitors a month in 2013. Over 250,000 businesses have registered using the One-Stop Business service that was rolled out in 2003, saving Utah business startups millions of hours in cost-saving efficiencies.  


Governor Huntsman came in with a strong pro-business stance in 2005, and passed the consolidation of state information technology services into a single department.  Governor Herbert followed, making Utah a top destination for businesses looking for a great place to start and grow. Val Oveson was followed by Steve Fletcher who left the Department of Education in DC to come to Utah as CIO for 7 years.  Then Mark VanOrden took over with a strong emphasis on information security, accessibility, and mobile efficiency.



UWIN, a great vision for the future of mobile public safety networks no longer exists after all public safety radio has moved under the umbrella of UCAN.  FirstNet promises to deliver a national network that encompasses much of the earlier vision of UWIN, but at a much broader level.

RSS is only an afterthought for most people, especially after the demise of Google Reader. We still provide content in this form however for those who still use it.

That one million job referrals in 2003 has burgeoned to over 11 million in 2012. The best is yet to come.  After looking at plans from the Department of Workforce Services, I'm expecting to see continuing improvement to this and some of the other great online services offered by that department.

It's been a great 10 years.  Before the end of the year, I'll create my top 10 list for digital government in Utah for 2013.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Another Mobilegov Success Story

Last year, when the Utah Transit Authority made its real-time transit api publicly available, one of our outstanding Utah.gov developers spent some of his own time developing a mobile application using the api.  He did such a great job that we decided to brand and share it with everyone.  The new app, available at Ontime.Utah.gov has some great features and because it was developed using HTML5, is available to everyone, being device independent.


The new app includes many features that have quickly made it one of the most popular transit apps in Utah.  For example, the user can start out by going to the website on the desktop and sending the link to his or her smartphone.  A few of the features include:

  • Generate alerts for specific bus stops and the app will send you a text message when the bus is 5 minutes away.
  • Track the live locations of buses and trains throughout the system.  If the bus is behind schedule, bus icon will change colors.
  • Filter by route or location


Earlier this month, Ontime.Utah.gov was awarded the 2013 Mobile Web Award for Best Government Mobile Website by the Web Marketing Association.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Big Data in Utah

Big data is important, even in a small state like Utah.  Over the years, data continues to grow, it seldom shrinks unless something catastrophic happens, then it disappears.  As data grows, we need to find new ways to analyze and understand it.  New ways to present facts and information that are based on science and a reasonable approach to aggregating and assessing the data.

The tools that we use in government continue to improve and the underlying technologies supporting the data improve as well.  It's important that we also improve the capabilities of our knowledge workers who draw conclusions from and report on the data.

In Utah, we have a growing number of initiatives that are looking at ways to leverage data.  Today, I'll mention a few of those.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services uses big data
to assess characteristics of the population
  1. The Utah Data Alliance
    I met with several of the people behind the Utah Data Alliance yesterday.  It's focussed on education and is a partnership that includes the Utah Office of Education, the Utah System of Higher Education, the Department of Workforce Services, and the Utah College of Applied Technology.  The goal is to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) to enable examination of educational progress and outcomes over time, from preschool, and K12 through postsecondary public education and into the workforce.
    website: http://www.utahdataalliance.org
  2. The Utah Community Data Project
    The UCDP developed the Salt Lake City 2010 Atlas based on in depth small area data and is now looking to expand it's mission statewide. UCDP plans to collect, store, and disseminate community data in an online system that is rich in graphic, tabular, and mapped information.
    website: http://www.ucdp.utah.edu/
  3. Utah Department of Health's Big Data Project
    The Office of Public Health Informatics is working on another big data project with very ambitious goals.  The Office aims to sift through hundreds of terabytes of data in order to better understand health issues in Utah and predict and respond to future events. It's just getting underway and will tap into a number of large structured and unstructured data sources.
    website: http://health.utah.gov/phi/
As these projects move forward, we are assessing the status of Data.Utah.gov to determine what we need to do to make this a more valuable resource. Senator Deidre Henderson is chairing the Utah Transparency Board and has a goal of making more data accessible. The Utah AGRC is also re-examining its strategy to determine the best way to leverage hundreds of terabytes of statewide GIS data to support Utah agencies and the public.

Some of these projects have touch points where they should collaborate.  This is just the beginning, really, of what will become a larger effort to leverage Utah data for the public good.



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm Ready for the 5S

Yes, I am still using an iPhone 4. Personally, I don't like changing phones too often.  It takes time.  Right now, I only have about 330 apps on the iPhone because I had to remove quite a few as I ran out space on the 32GB model that I am using.  That's just not enough.  A large share of the apps are state and local apps here in Utah and that number just keeps growing, including a new app announced today for the city of Sandy. The 5S, announced yesterday, looks like an attractive upgrade, a major increase in speed from the 4 and the new camera which will certainly help with all the visual (photo and video) content that we are porting to the web these days. Touch ID is certainly something we want to look into and see how well it works.  With so many attack vectors these days against state government, any improvements we can make in security are important.  NextGov has alluded to some potential concerns with biometric authentication on mobile devices.

iOS 7 also looks like a great upgrade and I am looking forward to it. ZDNet listed 10 new features for the enterprise in an article this morning.

The case for mobile computing in government is strong. We have one department that can report an ROI of two days or less for tablet purchases based on the efficiencies gained by their field workers.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) just published their new responsive design this week and it is really focused around supporting their mobile users.  Farmers and food producers will be able to make much better use of it's easy to use mobile features!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Making Progress with Mobile

Although we still have a lot of work to do to enable the mobile citizen, we are making progress.  Earlier this year, the Utah Department of Technology Services release a mobile strategy for the state. The strategy is focused around two objectives:

  1. Increasing the productivity and effectiveness of the State's mobile workforce through efficient provisioning and technical support. 
  2.  Ensuring that highly mobile Utah citizens are able to access and utilize the State's online services and information regardless of the platform they choose to utilize.
While we are working to make more of the Utah.gov domain accessible to mobile users, we are also trying to improve its accessibility for the disabled.  With this in mind, we started a tracking document where we have all the department websites and we have begun testing for mobility and accessibility.  We are making progress in both areas by reducing the number of accessibility errors and now increasing the number of Utah.gov sub-domains that are using responsive or mobile-friendly design.

The Utah Travel website (shown at the right) managed by the Utah Tourism Office is a good example of a site that uses a mobile-friendly design.  As a service that is frequently accessed by mobile users traveling throughout the state, Travel has designed the mobile interface with large icons that make it easy to navigate through their services.  In 2013, during the time we have been tracking department-level websites, the number of sites with mobile-friendly or responsive design has increased from 11% to 32%.

The Department of Heritage and Arts just updated their site last month with an entirely new responsive design. Their new site uses large banners and buttons that are easily navigated from a small mobile device.  All of their Divisions are also using the responsive design, including State History, the Utah State Library, Arts and Museums, Multicultural Affairs and Indian Affairs.  As we push responsive design principles deeper into our domain, I expect to see the number of unique visitors continue to climb with the fast growing segment of our population using mobile devices as a primary way of accessing the web.

We are also trying to make more of our online services useful to this mobile population.  Several years ago, we implemented a universal framework which made it easier to publish new services using a standard design. The Licensee Lookup service shown on the left is using the universal framework.  The interface is very simple for the mobile user.  

Over the past couple of years, we have made dozens of services available to mobile users using the universal framework.  These are in addition to the apps found in our mobile app library.

One of the major focuses now under the direction of Utah CIO, Mark VanOrden is to help improve the efficiency of government workers through the use of mobile technologies.  Dozens of new ideas are being reviewed and discussed that involve ways to improve government efficiency.  As they are rolled out, more workers will be able to file reports and access information from mobile devices.  One agency, which performs regular surveys that required them to gather information and photographs, then compile it into a report back in their office is now using tablets and reports time savings of over 3 hours a day in this process.

We are working to apply the steps mentioned by Bill Eggers to government processes around the state and expect to see some great results.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Utah.gov 2013

We published the new Utah.gov portal last night and it looks like this:



Probably more important than what it looks like are what it offers to Utah citizens and visitors.  We continue to simplify things with the portal and part of that was eliminating the scroll in this year's version.  Instead of having left side navigation buttons that take you down a parallax-scrolling site, we have used zoom to help drive users to major features.  Each of the three main boxes zoom out to provide additional content: news services, location-enabled services, and Utah.gov highlights.

The top navigation remains consistent although our designer, Jonathan Higley, created all new iconography.


The next feature bar includes our latest Twitter post, a date featuring a top event for the day which is driven directly from Google Calendar (Utah went to Google Apps for Government in November), and a location selector (Utah.gov  defaults to your current location and provides data and information based on that location automatically).


The Utah.gov Smart Search is one of the most important features and has access to the Master Data Index (MDI) which underlies all of Utah.gov.  1100 state online services, 1700 Utah government and education social media feeds (take a look at our Pinterest page and Google+ feed for example), multimedia, government agencies, and a wealth of other content types are all indexed by the MDI and drive how the content is provided to Smart Search as well as other places on the site, such as Connect.Utah.gov

We hope you enjoy the changes. With over 1,200,000 monthly unique visitors, we feel an obligation towards regular improvement.  You've rewarded us by performing 31 million online transactions in 2012. Having citizens and businesses use Utah.gov's online services instead of standing in line helps us make state government more efficient.  We'll keep working toward that goal.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Getting Ready for a Utah.gov Upgrade

In a few days, we will be introducing some new features on the state's digital government portal, Utah.gov.  In advance, I thought that I could provide some information to emphasize that digital government is still an important concept.  Granted, it is one that continues to evolve and is having a significant impact on how we view government in general.

For me, digital government is still first about providing services and information.  Utah.gov provides a lot of that with millions of pages of content and almost 1100 transactional services.  In 2012 alone, in a state of only 2.8 million residents, we processed over 31 million transactions.  That is a dramatic change in just the last 15 years from the time we put our first such service online.

Utah Insurance Transparency
Information services are also still very important.  These kinds of services have changed as well and many of them are becoming more dynamic. For example, take a look at our Utah Insurance Transparency Website.  The graphical interface hides the fact that this site provides all kinds of new data to the insurance consumer by making it simple and easy to compare costs and quality of service.  The latest insurance cost increases are also provided, allowing consumers to comment online prior to any approvals from the insurance department.  More transparency is certainly a good thing.  By the way, our transparency portal now provides access to 84 million records from every state and local government agency in Utah.

Speaking of data, an average of 114 gigabytes of open data is now downloaded every week from gis.utah.gov.  This is the kind of data that has economic value and a multitude of uses. I'm glad to see that there are about 30,000 downloads every week.

Utah's online education initiative is also starting to pay off.  In fact, Utah was rated #1 in the recently published Digital Learning Report Card, receiving an "A" grade.  Florida is doing an outstanding job in this area as well.




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Using Fusion Tables to Share Public Data

Google Fusion Tables is a great way to share public data.

Here's a table with data of the Utah Baseline Population Projections developed by Utah's Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.  Fusion Tables provides an easy-to-use interface for uploading data, whether you do it from an existing Google Spreadsheet, .xls file, of comma-delimited file, you can have the table ready to go in a few seconds.  Users can then analyze the data online, download it to a variety of formats, embed it in another site, etc.

Here's chart created and embedded using the population projection data.  It's nice because you can mouse over any of the data bars and get the exact number associated with it:

Mountain West Digital Library Anchors the National Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) went live last week with much fanfare.  It's great to see something get going like this and I hope that it continues to grow. What you might not expect is that the largest partner of the DPLA originated right here in Utah.  The Mountain States Digital Library (MDLA) currently has 693,469 objects in the DPLA, more than even NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration.

The MDLA, which presently hosts resources from Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii is a project of the Utah Academic Library Consortium and is growing by the minute.  One of its more prominent collections is supported by the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts digitization project, which is a major effort to digitize historic artifacts and records owned by the department.

It's cool to see the DPLA taking an open approach to development.  The new site already hosts a couple of apps and offers resources for developers.  I'm excited to see what happens in the future as this online public library continues to grow and develop.

See also: "Meet the Hubs: Mountain West Digital Library" and "Bringing the Power of Digital History to the Mountain West"