Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Utah.gov 2012: Built on Data

Utah Connect Portal

Today, we introduce a major change to the state of Utah portal, Utah.gov.  Going forward, the portal has a new underlying infrastructure that will drive the delivery of data and information.  In reality, Utah.gov is built on data and a new Master Data Index helps to ensure that the portal integrates information and services in real time.  The MDI indexes all kinds of data, including online services, social media streams, raw datasets, agencies, locations, and mobile applications.  For example, Utah.gov indexes over 850 Twitter feeds, aggregating and integrating streams on topics like tourism, business, and education.

Utah.gov 2012 is built using a parallax scrolling technique to create a more immersive, three dimensional experience using layers that scroll at different speeds.  The Utah.gov development team ultimately focuses on delivering a high quality user experience.  We continue to learn from our users' activity and a primary goal has always been to increase the total number of unique visitors to the site.  This ensures that our services and information are being seen and utilized by the largest number of Utah businesses and citizens possible.  Since 2007, this number has increased by an average of over half a million unique visitors every month.  This does not even consider the many successful non-Utah.gov domains also supported by Utah government agencies, such as the highly visual travel portal VisitUtah.com or our innovation portal InnovationUtah.com.

Utah state and local agencies have taken advantage of social media to a remarkable degree.  With some many options for connecting to government, it is easy to get distracted and it is somewhat remarkable that so many citizens continue to find their way to the Utah.gov portal.  They can find much of the information they are looking for in places like Facebook and Scribd.  Even the newer social media services like Google+ and Pinterest are becoming a second or third home to Utah.gov agencies and services.  For example, check out the beautiful pinboards of the Utah Travel Council.

One of the best ways to access Utah.gov data is using mobile platforms such as Flipboard and connecting to Utah.gov Twitter lists.  Simply subscribe to @UtahGov Twitter lists for government or education, then pull them up on Flipboard to get the latest information delivered to your iOS device.

We are exploring new ways to engage Utah's tech community and have created a new Utah.gov API page that developers can use to leverage Utah.gov MDI data to create their own services.

Utah.gov continues to work to support its growing base of mobile users.  Utah agencies have created about 40 mobile apps designed to meet the needs of these users.  The site itself uses responsive design to support various formats of smartphones and other smaller devices.

If you have suggestions for helping improve Utah.gov, we want to hear them.  We receive hundreds of comments each year that have helped us improve the way we offer services and provide information.

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