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NASCIO rewarded states’ efforts to use tech to help make government work better for its residents in areas like resident engagement, digital services, data analytics and identity management.
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers on Tuesday honored states across 10 categories in its annual State IT Recognition Awards.
State IT leaders were recognized for using technology to address problems in their businesses, help residents connect to government more easily, refine processes and find ways to improve their constituents’ lives. Thirty-one finalists were selected out of almost 100 submissions and announced at the group’s annual conference in Minneapolis.
The former award was for the state’s use of new technologies like drones to inspect its more than 20,800 bridges to ensure their structural integrity and safety. State officials said the effort, which began as a research project in 2015, saves taxpayer dollars, provides better data for asset management, improves safety for bridge inspectors and reduces traffic delays.
In the latter initiative, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services division is making it easier for non-English speakers to access its services using a generative AI-based virtual assistant that is available in English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish. The effort is crucial as the Minnesota Department of Education reported more than 330 languages being spoken in the state, making it difficult for residents to find a translator and engage with the government.
Minnesota also was a joint honoree alongside Ohio and Tennessee in a category recognizing digital services. Minnesota’s won for a program that provided financial rewards to frontline workers during the pandemic; Ohio was honored for streamlining access to child care benefits; and Tennessee was recognized for using its MyTN app to provide digital services and resources to its residents.
North Carolina also took home two awards in the cross-boundary collaboration and partnerships category and for innovations in information communications technology.
The first award was for North Carolina’s eLink, a utility that links, stores and maintains unique identities for an individual, pulled from data collected by state and federal agencies. That application helps reduce duplication in identity management and is something the North Carolina Government Data Analytics Center uses with more than 10 agencies to integrate more than 50 administrative systems.
And the state’s emergency dispatching system for first responders received the second award for delivering paging information over digital television signals to help spread messages across a wider area and provide more redundancies. The method, known as datacasting, can deliver more than 2,000 dispatches in the same time that analog systems can perform a single dispatch, so it helps first responders react more quickly.
Amid a constantly growing “wave” of cyber threats and attacks, Hawaii developed its Cyber Risk Scoring System, to provide every agency in the executive branch real-time visibility into cybersecurity controls and risk preparedness. That effort, which the state dubbed Surfing the Cyber Risk Monster Wave, won in NASCIO’s Cybersecurity category. State leaders said it is one of the first in the nation to show a “standardized, comprehensive risk score across multiple distinct departments in real-time with an easy to digest view.”
Also winning for a data visualization and management dashboard was California. The dashboard helps the California Health and Human Services Agency monitor incidents like earthquakes, wildfires and floods, identify health care facilities that may be impacted, and handle the logistics of moving people and equipment to keep them safe. Before its cloud-based solution, the state relied on manual processes and individual departments to collect data that could impact California’s more than 78,000 licensed facilities.
Tennessee also moved to the cloud and picked up first place in the digital services from government to business category for a cloud-based licensing system that has licensed more than 15,000 professionals, more than 34,000 facilities and undertakes more than 31,000 inspections across the state’s agricultural economy. The old system was subject to frequent service outages.
Users were the focus for Michigan’s initiative, known as Michigan All in for the User, Our HCD Strategy, which took first place in NASCIO’s Business Process Innovations category. That effort saw Michigan embrace human-centered design with three pilot projects to help better connect customers with services, automate workflows and ensure that customer experience is at the forefront.
And Indiana received top honors for its initiative, an effort in which the Indiana Office of Technology has removed degree requirements from most job descriptions and has built a non-traditional pathway to hire a new generation of IT employees. In an interview earlier this year, IOT’s Director of Strategic Workforce Planning Jon Rogers said it made “logical sense” as a way to boost hiring.
In the individual honors, New Jersey Chief Operating Officer Roger Gibson; North Carolina Chief Deputy State CIO and Chief Services Officer Susan Kellogg; and Kansas Chief IT Architect Alex Wong were all awarded a State Technology Innovator Award. Illinois Chief Information Security Officer Adam Ford received the State Cybersecurity Leadership Award.