Friday, December 29, 2006

Capitol Hill

The Capitol Preservation Board has installed a counter on their website counting down the days until the Capitol Grand Opening. It will be nice if we can ever get this place looking respectable again!

The Utah Senate majority is doing a good job keeping their blog updated with new content.

Not to be outdone, the Utah House has a blog of their own, but it hasn't had a post since August.

Representative Craig Frank shares his opinions in a podcast.

Although we're still over two weeks away from the session, several dozen bills have already been numbered for the 2007 General Session. Should be a busy year, especially with the big surplus that is available.

I now have all the State parks tagged. Take a look.
RSS Feed

Someone named Wayoff has been tagging all the state capitol buildings. Too bad he hasn't included photos of the buildings. Perhaps that is a future project.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Power of RSS

RSS is everywhere. There are dozens of readers and services. It is easy to incorporate into your website and use as a means of content contribution. For now, I have settled on Google Reader as my preferred method to read (and listen). The ability to aggregate feeds, put them in folders, and listen to podcasts without caring about the original media format is excellent. Even so RSS is still underused and not fully understood in terms of its full potential.

State Parks in Tagzania

I am now halfway through tagging Utah's state parks in Tagzania. The mashup will update as I finish adding all state parks.

utah_state_parks tagged map by user - Tagzania

We are developing a strategy to include more location-based and GIS services in our portal and other egov services and applications.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

State Buildings 5-Minute Mashup

utah_state_buildings tagged map by user - Tagzania

Top 10 in Utah IT

Here is the latest version of my top 10 picks for IT in State of Utah government for 2006:
  1. Creation of the Department of Technology Services. All IT employees in the State were transfered into the new department in March of this year.
  2. Utah is selected as fourth in the 2006 Digital States awards and third in the Best of the Web . The state was ranked fifth in e-government by the Taubman Center at Brown University.
  3. Public Safety rolls out an online safety inspection system to safety inspection stations around the state.
  4. Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Orem all place in the top-10 digital cities.
  5. The State of Utah rolls out a new version of its portal which is recognized as the 3rd best state government in the nation.
  6. Gentax - the State Tax Commission completes the income tax replacement in less than a year, including the upgrade of related online tax services. Gentax appears to have a record of successful state projects for states such as Montana and North Dakota.
  7. The Division of Finance completes the upgrade of the statewide financial system from a client-server application to web-based application in July. The project was completed on-time and under budget. It also included the upgrade of the financial data warehouse and about 70 system interfaces.
  8. Cyber-security and Business Continuity - The Department of Technology Services places a high priority on information security. All of the department's employees completed an online training programming which was then completed by the vast majority of employees across the state. The department creates an enterprise security organization with a new funding stream for security initiatives. Other activities focus on the effort when Governor Huntsman declares Cyber Security Awareness Month in October. Legislators support an effort to improve business continuity for the state's most critical systems.
  9. Payment Express - you can now pay 26 different taxes through a single service.
  10. Legislative Audio - in addition to being able to listen to floor debates and committee hearings live, you can also listen to previous floor debates from the House and Senate.

My picks from previous years are below:
Review of top 10 strategic projects identified in 2004


It's impossible to keep up with all the new mashups and related tools that are coming out. One of the most exciting that I've found is Tagzania. Here is a mashup created by Tagzania of the "New Seven Wonders of the World".

7wonders and new tagged map by user - Tagzania

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sage Grouse

Science associated with the sage grouse is a big thing. If you look at the research spending proposed by Congress recently, there is $5 million for sage grouse habitat and conservation in Utah. I was fascinated to see how much the federal government has put online about the sagegrouse. The USGS sagemap has all kinds of information about sagegrouse habitats.

Monday, December 18, 2006

GIS Everywhere

Almost every day, we're seeing new, interesting GIS applications and services online. Flash Earth provides a powerful interface into a variety of other tools, including OpenLayers:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Carlos Evangelizes eGov in Badajoz

I'm fascinated to watch Carlos Guadian go to Badajoz to evangelize egovernment and other technologies. When I lived in Andalucia, I considered Badajoz to be the most remote area of Spain. There have certainly been substantial changes over the years. Carlos is a driver behind Propolis Club, a focal point for egov in Spain.

Street Map of Badajoz

Brian Watkins provided a live post from this week's Executive Appropriations committee meeting in Utah.

eGov Podcast

I am trying out Gcast for an eGov podcast. Although I have only made one post so far and do not have a broadcast voice, my plan is to have multiple contributors and add to it on a consistent basis. I really like the tool. It allows you to post from any phone using a toll-free number. You can save it as a draft or publish directly. It automatically creates the RSS feeds, etc.

The federal government has a growing number of interesting (and not-so-interesting) podcasts that demonstrate the utility of this tool for government. There are certainly opportunities to use the tool more in state government.

Here are some podcasts from Utah's Governor's Office for Economic Development (GOED).

Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has been using podcasts for a while. In his November 30th podcast, he noted a $2.2 billion budget. Pretty impressive.

Governor Huntsman released his budget recommendations this week. The Governor announced an estimated surplus of $1.6 billion for Utah.

The Governor met with DTS management Thursday afternoon


The Center for Digital Government has published a report entitled "Government Faster, Smarter" that makes (in my opinion) some very important recommendations that align nicely with the direction that we are working on for the State of Utah. Part II of the report is entitled "Collaboration through Loose Couplings" and makes the following recommendations:
  • Service-enable data first
  • Utilize an Enterprise Service Bus
  • Identify Frequently Repeatable Processes
  • Establish Standards
  • Create a Web Services Library
This mirrors almost exactly the strategy that we have been working on in our office in the State of Utah. We began working with the Dept. of Public Safety on an analysis of ESB's and have a proof of concept underway, having analyzed the major ESB offerings. The project has now extended to an enterprise team. We have developed a database of all online services, potential services, websites, etc. to understand where we are and define the gaps and needs that we should address moving forward. We have begun to define what we need in terms of web services and what we already have within the state. We will then develop a strategy for how to develop needed web services and where they are needed. We are developing the State eGov plan which should be complete by December 31st.

Good to see Barbara Haven of California making regular egov posts to her blog again. She mentions this security breakdown in Vermont.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Technology Trends

Wayne Hall discusses CIO Insight's latest article on the top technology trends for 2007. I don't agree with all their conclusions, but it would be interesting to ask these questions of each IT director throughout state government to see where we stand relationally.

New Hampshire Mashup

New Hampshire has done one of the most obvious mashups for state government. They have mapped out all their state buildings complete with photos of the building, directions for how to get there, and a link to the agency website. This is something I have wanted to do for Utah, but we haven't got around to it yet.

New Hampshire also has a service to locate broadband services throughout the state using a simple map.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


NECCC's tenth annual conference wraps up today in Sacramento. The conference has had some great moments like JD Williams' call for leadership with examples of Eisenhower and Lincoln. I was there to talk about the Utah portal, but was able to gain some additional insight into what others are doing that we might benefit from. Texas, with a Bearing Point partnership, is claiming to now offer 784 online services, having processed over 16 million financial transactions online. I think a very high percent of those are license renewals, but that's ok. They espouse something called their "Intelligent Transaction Manager" which incorporates a number of services into a common engine for processing the online transactions. Carolyn Purcell also mentioned their development of a common payment engine similar to Utah's GovPay. Interesting to see Texas CIO Larry Olsen resign on the same day.

PK Agarwal has been the California CTO for the past year or so. His CTO role encompasses management of the central IT shop. The CTO role throughout the US seems to be very inconsistent in definition, having a variety of responsibilities that differ tremendously from one organization to another. Here is a webcast interview with PK if you can sit through the long introduction and advertisements. PK mentions that California has two primary data centers, but they are both in the Sacramento area. Their plan is to relocate one of them somewhere more remote for business continuity purposes, similar to Utah's two primare data centers. PK later shared some thoughts with the CDG.

NECCC's power is that it encompasses a variety of disciplines that all have interest in moving the business of government online, people like comptrollers, secretaries of state, archivists, come together with IT professionals from inside and outside government to propose solutions to challenges that face everyone.

This year's conference has looked extensively at digital archives, back office functions, and digital ID.... all very interesting and relevant issues. They have published several whitepapers available here.

I stopped by the capitol for the Christmas tree lighting while I was here.