Jan | Feb 2014


Technology 101

Technology is changing state government. Here’s a look at some of the issues states will be dealing with in 2013.

 

Up in the Clouds

State policymakers may not want to have their heads in the clouds, but that just may be where they want state data to go.
Basically, cloud computing is delivery of on-demand resources over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis.
The National Institute of Science and Technology of the U.S. Department of Commerce defines cloud computing as a resource that is convenient and provides on-demand access to things such as networks, servers, storage, applications and services.
The institute lists five essential characteristics: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service.
Services can be deployed through a private cloud, which is infrastructure exclusive to one organization; a community cloud, used by a specific group of organizations that have similar interests or concerns; a public cloud, which is open for public use and operated by a business, academic or government organization; and a hybrid cloud, which is composed of at least two of the previous infrastructure examples.
Delaware was the first state to move to the cloud, according to the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. The state developed a cloud system comparable to the federal government’s cloud-first policy in 2011. Read more about Delaware’s efforts on the Capitol Ideas website.
The service seems to be growing in popularity and can save states money. In March, the state of Ohio granted a 10-year, $267 million cloud-computing contract with IBM that’s expected to save the state $150 million, Columbus Business First reported.
 

States Get Social

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube—they’re not just for keeping track of family and old high school friends. State leaders are using social media to keep in touch with constituents.
State chief information officers acknowledged in a survey that social media have a growing role in state government. Every legislature except Mississippi and North Dakota have an active social media presence, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures.
State CIOs reported in the 2012 National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ survey that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all had usage rates above 80 percent each, while Flickr, LinkedIn and blogs had usage rates of 45 to 55 percent.
 

State Apps

Traveling and need to know road conditions? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are many. Most states provide road information through easily accessible applications available on your smartphone or tablet computer.
That’s not all you can find with the flick of your finger. You can locate service centers, maps and directions through the California Locator App, get school news from the Kentucky Department of Education, and get information about hunting and fishing in Colorado.
Those are just a few of the many apps available from state governments across the country. Some states, like California, list their full menu of apps on a website directory page. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers is in the process of cataloging state government apps in an online directory.
A NASCIO survey found 57 percent of state chief information officers see mobile devices and applications as essential or a high priority. That same survey said the most popular apps are related to transportation, including traffic and road conditions, and tourism, including state parks, hunting, fishing and boating activities.
 

State CIO Priorities

State chief information officers see big changes coming from technology in state government. Here’s what they told the National Association of State Chief Information Officers are their top priorities for 2013 with regard to processes:
 
With regard to applications and tools:
 

Big Data Engine

The evidence-based decisions states are making require data—and lots of it. Luckily, that information is available and is growing by leaps and bounds.
Big data, according to the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, include five basic themes: volume, variety, velocity, complexity and variability.
According to IBM, the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That’s so much that 90 percent of all the data in the world has been created in the past two years. Everyone contributes—the data include everything from your posts to Facebook and Twitter, those digital pictures and videos you upload, those purchases you made online and the GPS signals from your cell phone.
State governments produce a lot of data, too. But a lot of state agencies aren’t prepared to handle all the information they are producing, according to a study released in April by MeriTalk, a government IT network. The survey found that the average state agency stores 499 terabytes of data, but most IT professionals expect that number to explode. Only 2 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said they have a big data strategy.
Nevertheless, all this information is expected to provide benefits for states. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents to the MeriTalk survey said big data will help improve overall agency efficiency; 54 percent said it could improve speed and accuracy of decisions; and 34 percent said it will help states achieve a greater understanding of people’s needs and how to meet them.
 

State Government Technology Groups

The National Association of State Technology Directors represents information technology professionals from the 50 states, divided into four regions and the private sector. State members provide and manage government information technology services and facilities for state agencies and other public entities, often including hospitals, prisons, colleges and universities. These members also play a strategic role in planning and shaping state government technology infrastructures and policies.
NASTD was founded in 1978 and has been an affiliate of The Council of State Governments since 1980. It is located in Lexington, Ky.
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers represents state chief information officers and information technology executives and managers from state governments across the United States. Its primary state members are senior officials from state government who have executive-level and statewide responsibility for information technology leadership.
NASCIO was founded in 1969 and is located in Lexington, Ky.
 

New York Leads the Way on Open Health Data

New York is the first state to create a website, health.data.ny.org, solely dedicated to posting health data. It follows on the heels of Open.NY.gov that Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched in March.
The data provides New Yorkers with 24/7 access to important health information in a state-of-the-art, easy-to-navigate open data site. Data available includes:
The New York site is the only known open data site devoted solely to state health data accompanied by targeted public health messaging, extensive metadata and customized visualizations. Health Data NY provides raw data, but also allows health care providers, researchers and others to analyze and download valuable health data in a variety of formats. All data is API enabled, meaning that application developers have the most up-to-date data at their fingertips.
The national Health Data Consortium in June awarded Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah the first Data Liberation Award at its Health Datapalooza meeting. The award recognizes New York’s “outstanding accomplishments in making health data publicly available and facilitating the data's use in apps, tools, and services that bring the data to life in meaningful and innovative ways.”