Jan | Feb 2014


Data Let States Focus on Delivery of Services

by Richard Leadbeater, Esri Global Solutions Manager, State Government and Trade Association

 

It is very trendy these days to slap a “2.0” on the back of any term and declare a new movement, a modern approach, or reinvention of some aspect of government. The 2.0 moniker conveys a sense of “new and improved” while linking the modern digital aspects of our personal lives.
Over the last decade, Web 2.0, with its improvements in delivering applications over the Internet, was applied to government work functions and business practices merging with e-Government to produce Gov 2.0. More recently, the term Gov 2.0 has faded and devolved into a cluster of terms like performance, transparency, innovation, big data, citizen engagement and so on. But even these terms, as trendy as they may be, are not immune to version creep. The latest and one of the more interesting terms is “Delivery 2.0.”
Delivery 2.0 is just an outgrowth of the terms previously listed but with an important twist. By focusing on the delivery of government, the attention is orientated away from the business process and its measures. The delivery of government is focused more toward the customer—the citizen—and assumes a successful interaction between the two.
Why does government care about performance, transparency, innovation, big data, citizen engagement? It cares because it needs, and is required, to provide proof that it delivers value. Focusing on delivery confirms a two-way relationship, that the outcomes and measures are meaningful; the results are measures of the outcome and not just measures of the work itself.
The promise of measures and the ability to collect and track more data describing governments’ operations is not new. Kansas, Maryland and Washington, to name a few, have had active performance efforts for some time. What is new is the effort to open this data for public consumption and use. One sees this in “civic hack-a-thons” and the recent National Day of Civic Hacking initiated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Maine was one of the states that took up the challenge.
Three years ago, I said GIS software, applications and tools being purchased and built by state legislatures in support of redistricting efforts they were about to face was a “means and not the end.” I saw where some legislators and staff were looking for a new approach to the problem, an approach that could add more transparency and reduce some of the negativity associated with the process. I saw the GIS tools, analysis techniques and, especially, the data used to support redistricting would become an important outcome of the process in itself. I think it is fair to say because of these tools, analysis techniques and, especially, the data, this latest redistricting cycle was the most inclusive of citizen input and involvement.
Within the redistricting process, the best example of this movement toward citizen involvement has to be the state of Utah. By providing citizens with the same tools and data as the legislature, Utah, along with a number of other states, started to change the idea that policy analysis was too difficult to deliver in an open and easy manner.
If you take the time to search the app stores provided by Apple, Microsoft and others, you will see more and more apps created by—and for—state governments. In addition, in state-by-state searches of both legislative and executive branch websites, you can find a growing number of services and apps directed toward delivering information and processing transactions for citizens. All these apps and services are intent on delivering information, enabling citizens and generally involving citizens in the business process—often allowing the state to get out of way.
For instance, the governor of Maryland has used tools like StateStat to communicate and involve citizens on budget spending to promote environmental programs, the creation of a statewide master plan, and even the launch of health awareness programs. StateStat is a data-based management approach to make Maryland's government work for state residents.
The governors of Colorado and Utah followed suit and made data a centerpiece of their portals.
NASCIO has created a Library of Apps created by states—though a number of apps that I have on my phone are not listed. A quick review of the list tells you that recreation and tourism are most common.
Esri has created a guide showing how you can use GIS to improve citizen engagement.