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"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of Digital Government in Utah 2012

Another year draws to a close and this blog is now over 10 years old. As you know, each of those years includes an end-of-the-year post reviewing the top 10 digital government achievements for the state of Utah. I'm not sure how long I will continue this annual review, perhaps this will be the last year and we'll move on to something different. I'll have to see how things go in 2013.  Before I get started, here is a look back to my review in 2011.

Overall, 2012 has been a banner year for digital government in this state.  Progress has not begun to slow and there are still plenty of opportunities to do new and innovative things. Former CIO Steve Fletcher has moved on to work as chief of NTIA's new Office of Public Safety Communication. New state CIO, Mark VanOrden is now working hard to make progress in mobile government and information security.

Here we go with 2012:

  1. Utah and Michigan remain atop the 2012 Digital State Survey. The biannual survey of state government use of digital technologies is the most comprehensive periodic review of digital government that exists.  Utah has remained atop the last three surveys, beginning in 2008.  This covers a lot of territory. Utah's digital government strategy is focused on results and the 2012 survey recognizes that.
  2. Utah rolls out an updated portal based on a new Master Data Index.  I mentioned the Master Data Index in a May 1 post. It enables us to integrate many of the diverse digital resources that the state supports into a more integrated digital ecosystem.  It is a resource that we will be able to build upon as we continue to enhance our digital presence with multi-channeled, cloud-based services.
  3. CPPA study identifies millions in savings from online services. This study, performed by the Center for Public Policy and Administration validates the argument that is behind digital government services and the effort Utah has made to deliver digital services. A second part of the study is now underway which will identify the value of digital government to business.
  4. Emphasis on jobs creation and related online initiatives. Governor Herbert's emphasis throughout the recession was to create jobs. In January, the Governor's Office rolled out the Utah Job Plan, a dashboard to track the ambitious goal of creating 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. By November, the unemployment rate was down to 5.1%, the lowest since the recession began. The Department of Workforce Services is committed to digital, supporting over 10 million digital service transactions a year.
  5. Utah government completes transition to Google. The state's move to Google Apps for Government is part of the second phase in a more comprehensive cloud computing plan.  It provides a platform for collaboration and will support more collaborative digital government. 
  6. Utah provides new open data resources. State agencies continue to grow the availability of online data resources. The Utah Transparency Portal added special districts in 2012.  Over 150,000 KML files are now available on Utah.gov, making this the fastest growing open data file type on the portal.  This supports the sharing of transportation data, wildlife data, water data, and more.
  7. Utah Legislature's new portal. The state legislature implemented a complete overhaul of le.utah.gov in October.  The new site has enhanced search functionality, a simplified layout, and will support new mobile services in the future.
  8. Increased statewide emphasis on information security. The security threat environment has changed dramatically with daily attacks and challenges for state government. Utah has a new plan and policies aimed at addressing these challenges. Trust is critical to the success of egovernment, so security must always be at the top of our agenda.
  9. Point-of-Sale real-time service implemented for Controlled Substance Database at pharmacies.  This collaborative system is an example of how Utah is moving toward creating real-time services in partnership with business, local government, and other partners.
  10. Social Media use in government reaches new highs.  In 2012, Utah government implemented new channels for social outreach including 23 Google+ channels, 25 Pinterest Channels, and a new LinkedIn site. The state's social media portal was recognized with the 2012 Excellence in Innovation for Social Media award by the American Council for Technology, along with PTI's award for Web 2.0 innovation.
link to Utah Film Commission Facebook Page

Friday, October 19, 2012

Analyzing Mobile Visitors to Utah.gov

ZTE Chorus
In the past 30 days, the Utah.gov portal has received visits from 305 different mobile devices.  These visits now account for about 13% of the total visits to the site.  Thats a lot of different devices, A-Z, everything from the Apple iPad to the ZTE D930 Chorus.  The new visitor rate for mobile devices is 20% higher than for all platforms.

One area that really stands out is the higher bounce rate.  Even though Utah.gov has a responsive design that is particularly designed to support smartphone users, the bounce rate for mobile users is 47.66%, while the bounce rate for laptops and desktops is low at 15.6%.  Mobile users also spend 35% less overall time on the site and visit fewer pages.

Apple iPad
One exception to these numbers is the iPad.  The iPad's bounce rate, at 18.9% is about 1/3 the bounce rate of almost any other mobile device.  The closest competitor is the Samsung Galaxy Tab at just over 45%.

Xperia Arc
57.5% of all mobile visits to Utah.gov come from two devices, the iPad and the iPhone.  That means that 303 devices comprise 42.5% of the visits, the most significant of those being the SonyEriccson Xperia Arc.

I expect that these numbers will continue to evolve.  I was surprised most about the huge number of unique devices hitting the site.  We continue to discuss strategies for how to optimize the user experience for all of these uses and it is clear to me that we still have some ways to go.

Google Nexus 7
I had little personal experience with Android devices until this week when we got a Google Nexus 7 in order to begin preparing an Android User Guide for state employees that would be similar to our iPad User Guide.  I was pleased with the ease of setup for the Nexus and the interface for many of the apps, such as Flipboard and Twitter that I am accustomed to using.  We don't see many visits yet from the Nexus or the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Efficiency of E-Government

We have always known that digital government saves money.  It also allows us to do things that we could never do without it.  Over the years, we have tried to quantify the savings, but this can sometimes be difficult often due to a lack of good data about the unit cost of providing services through traditional channels.  But now, we have some new data that quantifies some of the hard savings associated with providing government services online.


Last week, the Center for Public Policy at the University of Utah released a more detailed study that explores the cost of providing services online.  The Center spent months reviewing data from a five year period to be able to determine the actual cost of doing business through traditional channels in various state agencies.  They focused in on nine services where the data was most reliable and complete over a longer period.  The result was that, overall for this group of services, the state saves an average of $13 per transaction.  For these services, that represents a total savings of $46 million over the five years represented in the study.

This study is good news for those promoting digital government.  These kind of results also don't come without some work.  You can't just create online services and expect that they will be heavily utilized unless you are willing to invest some effort.  Our Utah.gov team meets every week to discuss how we can better market our services.  This not only includes working to improve our service interface, but also making sure that our portal makes the service easy to find. It includes search engine optimization - making sure that search engines rate the service highly in search results for related key words and phrases.  It includes marketing through press releases and social media channels.

Ultimately, our goal is for the online channel to be the primary channel, approaching 100% adoption whenever possible.  This study confirms the value of that goal.

Related articles

Friday, August 03, 2012

Thinking of New Online Services

Interactive digital government is falling behind.  Even though it seems that we are making progress, we are not doing enough and the challenge may be getting bigger.  Last year, we created 76 new online, interactive services in Utah. That seems pretty good and there was a lot of work to create these services and automate much of the business processes that accompany them.

The only problem is that during the time we created these interactive services, agencies put 2000 new pdf forms online.

Here's an example: the 2012 Property Tax Valuation Appeal Form.  In this case, the user is lucky.  It is a fillable form and the intended user can fill it out before printing it and mailing it in.  An address is listed for the State Tax Commission which will receive and process the form.  The last page has the addresses of 29 county auditors who are also involved in the valuation process for their respective jurisdictions.  This process starts long before this form gets filled out however.  Statements are generally mailed out by the county auditors in mid-year that have the tax valuation on them. This goes to thousands and thousands of land-owners across the state.

Think of what you might automate here.  Obviously, the valuation process itself.  In most cases, there is already a system that manages this and often, the valuation information is already available online such as this parcel search for Salt Lake County.  Salt Lake County also has their own appeal form, which also must be printed and mailed in.  So let's automate this submission process, make it easy for the reviewer to see the forms and supporting information from a portable device like an iPad so that the review can be done anywhere, anytime.  Then lets provide other relevant information and smart analysis to speed up the review.  Let's create a way for the taxpayer to know the status of his appeal.  Then, we can automate the response.  There can be even more than this, particularly if it involves multiple jurisdictions.  Be sure to leverage a process such as the state of Utah's universal template that makes the process usable in a variety of formats, including tablet and smartphone.

Like I said, there are about 2000 new forms a year just for Utah, so we have a lot of business process and automation work to be done.  Let's get started.