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Preview: Dave Fletcher's Government and Technology Weblog, v. 2.0

Dave Fletcher's Government and Technology Weblog, v. 2.0

languages, egovernment, international relations, public administration, and other stuff

Updated: 2018-02-07T15:19:36.214-07:00


New Alexa Skills from


Last week, at the Utah Digital Government Summit, we announced the availability of a great new Alexa skill now available on the Amazon Echo. Actually, Utah has published two new skills for the popular device: Utah Fishing which lets you ask Alexa how fishing is at lakes and rivers across the state of Utah and Utah Public Meetings which helps you keep up with important meetings, events, and decisions in your community.

The apps were developed quickly and efficiently through cooperation with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the State Archives, and our contract with Utah Interactive.

I've already had people tell me they went fishing for the first time in years after engaging with the Utah Fishing Skill. Once you have Alexa open Utah Fishing, you can ask about almost any body of water in the state and Alexa will respond with the latest fishing report (these are usually updated weekly). Based on the popularity of the Utah Wildlife mobile app, I'm expecting this new fishing skill to be similarly popular on this emerging platform.

Be sure to install these new skills on your Echo right away and then go enjoy some of Utah's great blue ribbon fisheries.

What to do with wearables?


I've seen a few interesting wearable apps out there for government, but not many. I'm now testing a new Apple Watch app that we're developing with Utah Interactive that makes a lot of sense. We had to update our existing Bill Watch app to Swift in order to make it available on the watch. The app keeps users informed of any changes made to bills during the 45-day Utah legislative session. The existing mobile app was a game-changer for bill-followers during the session where about 1000 bills are discussed during this compressed time frame. The watch will make it even easier to get notified and check status while so many other things are going on.

We're also working on some other projects in this area.

Utah Digital Experience Management Council


(image) After 15 years, the Utah Product Management Council is ready for a new life. The Council has helped Utah become a leader in Digital Government over that period and is ready to help the State transition into a new period that will feature artificial intelligence, wearable technologies, and personal digital assistants.

Agency efforts to transform government services will be led by Digital Experience Managers who will combine a focus on strategy, technology, and process to deliver highly engaging digital experiences to Utah citizens.

The focus of the Utah Digital Experience Management Council (UDEMC) will include:

  1. Service Integration
    We will find ways to integrate service delivery and provide greater personalization so that users can better discover new services and information that is relevant to them.
  2. Omnichannel
    We will expand our focus to deliver products across the growing spectrum of platforms and devices that are being used by our citizens, including wearables, IoT devices, etc.
  3. Enterprise Platform
    ICAM and PaaS services will be more standardized across the state enterprise to increase our ability to deliver services quickly and efficiently.
  4. Open Data
    We will continue to enhance Utah's open data capabilities.
  5. User-Centric
    Services will focus on the needs of individual users, not on the agency delivering the service.
  6. Accessible
    We will not lose sight of the need to make new services and platforms accessible to all users.
  7. Artificial Intelligence
    Utah will continue to explore ways to integrate AI and other emerging technologies into the service delivery process to improve service and create new efficiencies.
Seventeen agencies were represented as we agreed to work together to "radically improve upon the experience of government, and push the boundaries of how services are delivered." will continue to be a primary delivery channel for services, but will expand as a brand for new kinds of services. For example, we are currently working on several new wearables applications and integration with digital assistants, including new services for the Alexa platform.

Digital Government Top 10 for the State of Utah 2015


New technologies and innovations are changing the nature of digital government in 2015. Digital government has become transformative in nature and provides regular opportunities to change the way government interacts with the public. This is as true in Utah as it is anywhere in the world. Last week, I meet with a team of bright young executives from Prime Minister Modi's Digital India initiative and we had a great exchange of ideas. I was extremely impressed to see their level of sophistication in areas such as open data.If you've followed my blog, you know that each December since 2002, I've put together a top 10 list of the best of egov in the state of Utah. It helps me to review some of our key accomplishments, track progress over time, and give some additional thought to what's ahead. That's still what I'm most excited about and 2016 will be a great year.Two new mobile apps for the Utah Department of Workforce ServicesUtah has had tremendous success using online services to connect job seekers with potential employers. This has helped the state maintain one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Recently, the Department of Workforce Services created two new mobile apps: Hire Utah, which lets employers post job opportunities from their mobile device and Utah Jobs, which helps qualified applicants find the job they are looking for.Utah Transportation and the Internet of ThingsThe Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is one of several agencies finding new applications for the Internet of Things. For example, UDOT recently incorporated a real-time snow plow tracking feature into it's web and mobile traffic information applications. In addition to location tracking, the vehicles also send real-time vehicle status information which will save the state thousands of dollars in vehicle maintenance costs. The Department of Technology Services (DTS) is working on a more comprehensive Internet of Things Strategy for the state.The rollout of a new open data portal.DTS unveiled the state's new open data catalog on January 1, 2015 to begin the new year. By December, the portal had over 1,800 data sets and over 3 million page views.Creative new business websites and servicesJust check out this new Silicon Stories website and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.NASCIO holds its annual conference in Salt Lake CityThe National Association of State CIOs brought its annual meeting to Utah in 2015 for the first time. There were some great presentations from Utah SMEs, including CIO Mark VanOrden who retired in November, UDOT Director Carlos Braceras, and Purchasing Assistant Director Jennifer Salts who shared a lot of great tech innovation emanating from Utah.New uses of GIS services like Utah crash mappingState agencies created dozens of new interactive maps that help users understand what is happening in the state and aid agencies in their ability to address a wide variety of challenges.Publishing of Utah education dataUtah's Educational Data Gateway made substantial strides in 2015, providing more information on school performance.Increased use of business intelligence dashboards and analyticsUtah is working to become a data-driven government, making better use of data and analytics for business decisions.The new portalHere's the April press release announcing the 2015 version of Utah.govSilver 2.0Silver 2.0 is the new source for Utah birth and death certificates and introduced several new innovations in the way digital IDs are verified.There is still a lot to look forward to. 2016 will be a great year![...]

New Utah Open Data Catalog


Just about a month ago, we published a new version of the portal.The new site was part of an ongoing process to add more context, to become more responsive and to continue to improve service to the Utah public. We hope that works.  It integrates more social media and context rich information than ever before, providing a variety of micro-experiences as the user scrolls down the page. The site builds on previous development while significantly adding to the overall user experience. Search is still prominent, but the scroll puts much more information in front of the user.The design is very much a mobile-first design focused initially on making it work for tablet and smartphone users which are a fast growing segment of those who access the site looking for government services and information. In the past 30 days, we have had almost 900 different mobile device types access the portal which presents a challenge to ensure the quality of the user experience.Our user base has evolved significantly over the past year. With the improved economy (Utah's unemployment rate is down to about 3.4%), a lot fewer users are coming to the domain to look for jobs or unemployment benefits. Those users have dropped off by over 50%. We continue to monitor analytics to ensure that we are delivering the content that users are looking for.Last week, we turned our attention the the Utah Digital Government Summit and had a great event. We hope that by bringing everyone together for a day, that we can maintain the momentum that we have in delivering government services digitally. Thanks to everyone who participated and to eRepublic for coordinating the event!The CPPA also released their new study on the effectiveness of digital government in Utah and its acceptance by the public. Check out the link in this tweet: Connecting Residents with Government— dfletcher (@dfletcher) May 14, 2015 Although the catalog has over 800 datasets and lots of charts and maps, there is still A LOT of work left to do. We want all open data available here for the state and that requires lots of cooperation from state agencies. We also want to work with local governments on their open data initiatives and are already partnering with Salt Lake City on a micro portal.Here's an example of the embed functionality: frameborder="0" height="625px" scrolling="no" src="" title="Fastest Growing Professions for Salt Lake MSA, 2012-2022 based on Annual Growth Rate" width="650px">Fastest Growing Professions for Salt Lake MSA, 2012-2022 based on Annual Growth RatePowered by SocrataUsers will be able to embed charts, graphs, and maps using data and functionality from the catalog directly in any website. Here's a map of DABC licensees in Utah (Park City). frameborder="0" height="600px" scrolling="no" src="" title="DABC Licensees in Utah" width="650px">DABC Licensees in UtahPowered by SocrataWe will also be encouraging developers and researches to leverage the data and tools that come with the site for a variety of purposes.[...]

Top 10 for Digital Government in Utah in 2014


Today, digital is embedded into every aspect of government in Utah. It is the most effective way for reaching out to the public we serve in ways that could never be achieved before. Our services, our information; legislative, executive and judicial branches of government all use digital technologies to enhance the way the operate, to increase efficiencies and to interact in new and exciting ways.Utah has become a truly digital state, but before I go further, I want to share a video about our state that was posted to YouTube yesterday. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560">In addition to being a state of great natural beauty, Utah is a state of hard-working people that have embraced the transition to digital and are now using it to create an advanced economy that leverages technology and innovation in numerous ways.In 2014, 12 of every 13 Utah households have access to broadband. Almost every home has a PC and the state is increasingly mobile. We implemented a new portal design to reflect these realities using bold graphics and enhanced focus on interactive services.Now, here is my top 10 list for 2014 (the 13th version, beginning in 2002):Progress in Mobile Design. Following the release of our Mobile Strategy in 2013, we have been tracking our progress in adopting responsive design. We have gone from 13% to 60% of sites with responsive design and utilization has continued to grow. That is no small task for a domain with over 30 million pages of content and over 1100 interactive online services. A couple of examples of these new sites include:Human ServicesUtah Geological SurveyThe Digital State. The Center for Digital Government biannual survey is a comprehensive look at about everything the 50 states do with regard to digital technology. Utah was 1st in two of six categories: Enterprise ICT and Citizen Engagement. This is what they said after Utah was again recognized with an "A" grade:"The public expects to be able to interact with their government using new convenient technologies, and with the new services that states like Utah are delivering, that expectation is being met, Sander said. “Particularly Utah has done an awful lot with raising the bar on electronic services, on direct citizen engagement, not just from the push information at them standpoint, but actually opportunities with them to engage and transact and do business with government,” he said. “All three of the As have done a lot in that regard.”Legislature & Tech: the Online Democracy Award. The Utah Legislature continues to fine new ways to use technology to improve public participation, collaborate more effectively, and promote open government. In 2013, the Utah Bill Watch app was a big hit. Improved website design and service delivery was also effective:From StateScoop: "The Utah Legislature’s website took home the 2014 Online Democracy Award for producing a superior legislative website during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2014 Legislative Summit in Minneapolis."Open Data ProgressShepherded by Senator Deidre Henderson and the Utah Transparency Board, SB70 passed the legislature with funding for more transparency and openness, including funding for a new open data portal which will go live on January 1, 2015 and a new central portal for open records requests that will be managed by the Utah State Archives.A New Mobile App for Hunting and Fishing. In October, the Division of Wildlife Resources, working with Utah Interactive, produced a new mobile app for iOS and Android that made a lot of hunters and fisherman happy. It produced 7,000 downloads in just a few days. Just this week, it was named the best mobile government app of 2014!A record number of users access the domain and its services. The people of Utah showed their approval of Utah's online government initiatives with a record number of [...]

Looking Back at 2014


This is the first of three posts that I commit to do before the end of the year. I want to discuss some of the things that we have been doing over the past year. Then, I will complete my annual evaluation of the top 10 accomplishments for digital government in Utah for 2014. I've been doing this since 2002 when I first started to blog and I'm not quite done. Finally, I want to look ahead at 2015 and discuss some of the technologies that will be critical to the future of digital government, not just in Utah, but anywhere.I'm still posting stuff on a daily basis. Regular updates on Twitter at @dfletcher.There is so much more great content available about digital government now that I don't spend time generating as much of my own. And the range of activities that digital government has evolved into has grown. Open data, internet of things, cyber security, etc. are all critical components of what we have to include going forward. At the state level, this covers a tremendous amount of territory and without new resources we have to be increasingly efficient in the way we do things. Here in Utah, with one of the fastest growing populations in the US, most new dollars go to education, where the demand is the greatest. Big Data is one of the areas where we really need to improve our expertise in government to ensure that we are getting the most out of our resources and really utilizing them effectively. With that in mind, I created a new Flipboard a few months ago specifically focused on big data in government. Earlier this year, the state partnered with Big Data Utah, a Geek Events user group, to support a big data competition on air quality. With our high mountain valleys and regular winter inversions, air quality is a major quality of life issue. We had about six teams work on 300-400 data sets in a big data environment and develop some really great proposals. We are working on a business case to address big data more effectively as a state enterprise looking at a wide range of government-related issues.Over the last 20 years, I have been fortunate to interact with many digital government employees from around the world, including many in Spain and Latin America.  With that in mind, and with the growing interest among Spanish speakers in digital government and open data, I also created a Flipboard aggregation of news about the topic in Spanish called Gobierno Digital.  It keeps me up to date on developments in those parts of the world, many of which are quite innovative. I have, for example, been quite interested in what Mexico is doing with its Estrategia Digital Nacional, hoping that it can have a positive impact on the country. Alex Howard, aka @digiphile, recently did a great interview with national coordinator @alelagunes. Barcelona, Spain continues to impress me with its innovation culture.Last spring, not long after Utah developed the app for Google Glass with Utah Interactive, there was a huge amount of interest in wearable technology. I did interviews with Chris Dorobek, Government Technology, Mobile Marketer, and others. Since that time, the interest has tapered off substantially. Months later, Glass is still in open Beta, and the future seems a little uncertain. Some suggest that it is a failed experiment, although others affirm that Glass will return in 2015 with a new platform. Regardless, wearables are a piece of the future, particularly with a nationwide effort to equip law enforcement with new body cams.[...]

2014 United Nations Survey on E-Government


Last week, the UN published it's 2014 survey on e-government. I've been more than a little interested on how this one would look at the world of egov.  The Obama administration has placed a fair degree of emphasis on digital government, including important new aspects such as mobile services and open data. Nevertheless, as Craig Thomler points out in his analysis of national trends, the US has been on a regular decline according to the UN when compared to other top ranked egovernment nations.The question for US egovernment evangelists, is "why is this the case?" and "what are the implications?"  Next we need to determine what we can to about it and make the necessary efforts to improve the way we are delivering information and services, if we determine that the implications are, at all, significant.  I pay attention to third party assessments like this because they not only impact public sentiment, but also provide an opportunity for improvement.Take a look at Thomler's chart showing how the US is trending:Another important question to ask is "what are nations like Singapore, Australia, and South Korea doing well that we should be understanding and learning from?" Why is it that the UK, which vowed to become the global leader in digital government has also seen a decline in the survey? Estonia, which many see as a global leader in egovernment innovation is still only ranked #15. Spain a country which fell out of the top 20 in 2012 after being ranked #9 in 2010, is back in at #12.  Kudos to all my friends making egovernment in Madrid, Barcelona, and beyond.I still have a lot of work to do in going through the survey, understanding its findings, and determining how I can incorporate its recommendations into my specific microcosm, which is the digital government of the state of Utah. I expect and hope to find some good ideas.  The survey calls for a paradigm shift within the public sector which incorporates the following ideas:Become catalysts for change, instead of mere service providersOperate in an integrated, collaborative manner across departments and agenciesBecome pro-active instead of reactive anticipating problemsTransform mind-sets and build a culture of collaboration, transparency, and accountabilityI can point to ways where we have been working on and seen progress in every recommendation made in the survey, but I can also easily point out areas where we fall short of perfection, and until we reach that objective, there is still work to be done.[...] 2014: More than meets the eye


Utah recently completed a significant upgrade to its portal,  At first, you will probably not realize how much has changed just by looking at the main page.  Yes, we were able to find a light weight, high resolution video and HTML5 gives us the ability to put it right there in the background without any significant impact on performance.  You'll see some new infographic imagery in the drop-down menus that give you a hint of what you'll find on the secondary pages, which underwent the biggest transformation.The secondary pages are all carefully aligned using a twelve column grid structure with HTML5 that supports optimal responsive design on smart phones, tablets, as well as PC's and laptops.Each secondary page has a custom-designed infographic that demonstrates alignment with State policy goals and objectives.  We have increased the use of maps, social media, open data, etc., not just on any single page, but throughout the site.  Our integrated master data index (MDI) allows us to use any one or category of resources in new ways anywhere where it makes sense to enhance the user experience.Our outstanding design staff has added all new scalable iconography that improves the overall design of the site, while making it easier to discover what the user is looking for.Using the MDI, we have added new categories of content, such as a new page for annual reports across the state.  Take a look:Our annual updates to are paying off more than ever before.  In March 2014 alone, we had 1,780,859 unique visitors and over 65 million pages views, more than ever before.  In 2013, processed over 32 million online transactions, saving state government over $400 million.  Even more important, we were able to save Utah citizens and businesses millions of hours in valuable time, while improving service and satisfaction.One of the biggest trends in 2013-14 has been the growth in the number of mobile users of  For this reason, we have taken a mobile-first approach to design, making sure that the site is acceptable to the hundreds of thousands of Utahns who access the site from a smart-phone or tablet.  The portal is fully optimized for these users and the number of department-level websites now using responsive design is 5x what it was at the beginning of 2013.Utah's egovernment service providers are fully dedicated to delivering the best to Utah citizens.  We support Governor Herbert's goals of improving service, providing better education, and making Utah the #1 state for business in the country.[...]

Accenture Says US Dropping in Digital Government Performance


Accenture Digital Government Survey, 2014
In their January 2014 study on digital government, Accenture ranks 10 countries for digital government.  According to their results, the US now ranks #6 among these 10 countries, falling below Norway, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.  According to the study, only 28% of US citizens are satisfied with the quality of public services.  Certainly, that number differs dramatically from the numbers we have surveyed here in Utah.

Citizens are overwhelmingly satisfied with Utah's online services as are businesses that utilize our online services (over 90%).  Obviously, the poor implementation of services associated with the Affordable Care Act have impacted these numbers at a national level.  Failed websites and digital infrastructure at the federal level and in many states have eroded public satisfaction levels far lower than they have typically been.  At the same time, Utah has a much higher ratio of services online than many states which has helped produce higher levels of public satisfaction.  I think we are seeing very similar impacts now in states like Hawaii who are working to move more of their service portfolio online.

Here is a look at business satisfaction as surveyed recently by the CPPA of three states.

We need to get together in the US and accept the challenge laid down by Francis Maude and make a united and concerted effort to improve digital government service in this country.

Hawaii has faced this problem head on in the last 2-3 years and made a huge amount of progress. Check out this video which served as a "call to action"

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560">

2013 in Utah Government: Mobile Apps and Open Data


As I survey the landscape of digital government around the globe in 2013, there continues to be plenty of progress as government agencies recognize the value of making services and information available online.  In Utah, 2013 was a year of significant growth.  On one hand, we are experiencing record numbers of visitors to our domain, while on the other hand I am seeing some slowdown in the number of new services being added to our portfolio.  The open data movement has been a big driver globally.In the midst of supporting all of the numerous business changes that occurred in Utah in 2013, there were also some major egovernment accomplishments.Senate Passes SB283: Open and Transparent Government becomes a hot topic.Senator Henderson's bill raised the level of awareness in Utah about open data.  A report was completed by the Utah Transparency Board and submitted to the Legislature in November.New website features new services, responsive design.The Jobs subdomain is the busiest subdomain on On a busy month, it has seen over 500,000 unique visitors and in 2012 processed over 11 million online job referrals.  Now that it features a responsive design, it will provide much better service for its fast growing contingent of mobile users.Air Quality App provides data to mobile Android and iOS usersWith winter air quality becoming a bigger issue during the inversion season, Utah now provides a great solution for Utahns to check the status of air alerts anytime, anywhere. receives multiple international awards for design and innovation as best government website.The state portal continued to develop a comprehensive, data-driven approach to providing information and services to the public.  As a result, the site was named "Best Government Website" by the Web Marketing Association. Utilization of the site skyrocketed in 2013, with two months reaching 1.6 million unique viewers.DTS publishes statewide mobile strategyThe state published a new mobile strategy in May and implemented MDM for improved mobile security and service delivery.Record number of unique visitors access the domain.Cabinet works to introduce many information security enhancements.A cabinet level team was organized to elevate the level of importance placed on information security throughout state government.Hundreds attend the 2013 Utah Digital Government Summit.Supported by eRepublic, the summit brought together people from across state and local government to share ideas on digital government.Utah Bill Watch becomes popular mobile app, wins national award.Developed in minimal time, this new mobile app provides real-time access and notifications throughout the legislative session, providing regular updates in the bill-making Google+ site attracts over 150,000 new followers.Here is last year's top ten in Utah digital government.[...]

The Last 10 Years with


Ten years ago, there was no Facebook, no Twitter.  Tim O'Reilly had not even started talking about Web 2.0... that came a year later.  A lot has happened in ten years.  Millionaires have been made.  Services have come and gone.  I started blogging a year and a half earlier in about May of 2002.  I was still using Radio Userland back then.  Some of you may remember it as one of the first online blogging services. In December of 2003, I penned my first top 10 for digital government progress in the state of Utah. Here's the list:Utah wins Best of the Web.  In September, the Center for Digital Government named Utah's portal as first place among all 50 states.  A small delegation received the award at the Best of the Web award ceremony in New York City.Utah  announces the One Stop Business Registration service.  In August, Governor Leavitt announced this unique service which allows businesses to register seamlessly with 5 state agencies, 3 cities, and the IRS through one simple online process.  The State also rolled out, a new business portal at about the same time.Governor Walker signs an Executive Order creating UWIN - the Utah Wireless Integrated Network.  UWIN brings together dozens of state, local and federal agencies to provide wireless voice and data solutions in a way that greatly leverages existing resources.Val Oveson appointed CIO.  Val was appointed to the CIO position in January by Governor LeavittUtah Cares, the first service provided under the eREP project comes online.  In November, Gov. Walker announced the availability of Utah Cares, a free tool to find state and community services.Proliferation of RSS news.  RSS becomes a preferred news format for Utah government, allowing user subscription and aggregation of news feeds.  The legislative and judicial branches added RSS feeds to their sites during the year as well.  Expect to see more of this in 2004.Online campground reservations at State Parks.  This popular service was made available to citizens in May 2003.One million online job referrals., introduced late in 2002 experience tremendous growth during a challenging year for Utah's economy.  By August 2003, one million job referrals had been made by this popular online service.24x7 Live Help - During the summer, Utah introduced 24x7 live help on its portal, the first state in the country to do so.  A network of live help service has developed with many state agencies participating.More Agency Online Services - State agencies introduced dozens of new online services such as the Company & Agency Search completed by the Utah Insurance Department, DEQ's Generator Site Permitting System, and the Department of Agriculture and Food's License Renewal System.Looking back, there have been some tremendous changes since then., which only had a few hundred thousand visitors a month back then, has become a prime destination for citizens with over 1000 online services and averaging over 1.4 million unique visitors a month in 2013. Over 250,000 businesses have registered using the One-Stop Business service that was rolled out in 2003, saving Utah business startups millions of hours in cost-saving efficiencies.  Governor Huntsman came in with a strong pro-business stance in 2005, and passed the consolidation of state information technology services into a single department.  Governor Herbert followed, making Utah a top destination for businesses looking for a great place to start and grow. Val Oveson was followed by Steve Fletcher who left the Department of Education in DC to come to Utah as CIO for 7 years.  T[...]

Another Mobilegov Success Story


Last year, when the Utah Transit Authority made its real-time transit api publicly available, one of our outstanding developers spent some of his own time developing a mobile application using the api.  He did such a great job that we decided to brand and share it with everyone.  The new app, available at has some great features and because it was developed using HTML5, is available to everyone, being device independent.

The new app includes many features that have quickly made it one of the most popular transit apps in Utah.  For example, the user can start out by going to the website on the desktop and sending the link to his or her smartphone.  A few of the features include:

  • Generate alerts for specific bus stops and the app will send you a text message when the bus is 5 minutes away.
  • Track the live locations of buses and trains throughout the system.  If the bus is behind schedule, bus icon will change colors.
  • Filter by route or location

Earlier this month, was awarded the 2013 Mobile Web Award for Best Government Mobile Website by the Web Marketing Association.

Big Data in Utah


Big data is important, even in a small state like Utah.  Over the years, data continues to grow, it seldom shrinks unless something catastrophic happens, then it disappears.  As data grows, we need to find new ways to analyze and understand it.  New ways to present facts and information that are based on science and a reasonable approach to aggregating and assessing the data. The tools that we use in government continue to improve and the underlying technologies supporting the data improve as well.  It's important that we also improve the capabilities of our knowledge workers who draw conclusions from and report on the data.In Utah, we have a growing number of initiatives that are looking at ways to leverage data.  Today, I'll mention a few of those.The Utah Department of Workforce Services uses big datato assess characteristics of the populationThe Utah Data AllianceI met with several of the people behind the Utah Data Alliance yesterday.  It's focussed on education and is a partnership that includes the Utah Office of Education, the Utah System of Higher Education, the Department of Workforce Services, and the Utah College of Applied Technology.  The goal is to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) to enable examination of educational progress and outcomes over time, from preschool, and K12 through postsecondary public education and into the http://www.utahdataalliance.orgThe Utah Community Data ProjectThe UCDP developed the Salt Lake City 2010 Atlas based on in depth small area data and is now looking to expand it's mission statewide. UCDP plans to collect, store, and disseminate community data in an online system that is rich in graphic, tabular, and mapped Department of Health's Big Data ProjectThe Office of Public Health Informatics is working on another big data project with very ambitious goals.  The Office aims to sift through hundreds of terabytes of data in order to better understand health issues in Utah and predict and respond to future events. It's just getting underway and will tap into a number of large structured and unstructured data these projects move forward, we are assessing the status of to determine what we need to do to make this a more valuable resource. Senator Deidre Henderson is chairing the Utah Transparency Board and has a goal of making more data accessible. The Utah AGRC is also re-examining its strategy to determine the best way to leverage hundreds of terabytes of statewide GIS data to support Utah agencies and the public.Some of these projects have touch points where they should collaborate.  This is just the beginning, really, of what will become a larger effort to leverage Utah data for the public good.[...]

I'm Ready for the 5S


(image) Yes, I am still using an iPhone 4. Personally, I don't like changing phones too often.  It takes time.  Right now, I only have about 330 apps on the iPhone because I had to remove quite a few as I ran out space on the 32GB model that I am using.  That's just not enough.  A large share of the apps are state and local apps here in Utah and that number just keeps growing, including a new app announced today for the city of Sandy. The 5S, announced yesterday, looks like an attractive upgrade, a major increase in speed from the 4 and the new camera which will certainly help with all the visual (photo and video) content that we are porting to the web these days. Touch ID is certainly something we want to look into and see how well it works.  With so many attack vectors these days against state government, any improvements we can make in security are important.  NextGov has alluded to some potential concerns with biometric authentication on mobile devices.

iOS 7 also looks like a great upgrade and I am looking forward to it. ZDNet listed 10 new features for the enterprise in an article this morning.

The case for mobile computing in government is strong. We have one department that can report an ROI of two days or less for tablet purchases based on the efficiencies gained by their field workers.

(image) The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) just published their new responsive design this week and it is really focused around supporting their mobile users.  Farmers and food producers will be able to make much better use of it's easy to use mobile features!

Making Progress with Mobile


Although we still have a lot of work to do to enable the mobile citizen, we are making progress.  Earlier this year, the Utah Department of Technology Services release a mobile strategy for the state. The strategy is focused around two objectives:Increasing the productivity and effectiveness of the State's mobile workforce through efficient provisioning and technical support.  Ensuring that highly mobile Utah citizens are able to access and utilize the State's online services and information regardless of the platform they choose to utilize.While we are working to make more of the domain accessible to mobile users, we are also trying to improve its accessibility for the disabled.  With this in mind, we started a tracking document where we have all the department websites and we have begun testing for mobility and accessibility.  We are making progress in both areas by reducing the number of accessibility errors and now increasing the number of sub-domains that are using responsive or mobile-friendly design.The Utah Travel website (shown at the right) managed by the Utah Tourism Office is a good example of a site that uses a mobile-friendly design.  As a service that is frequently accessed by mobile users traveling throughout the state, Travel has designed the mobile interface with large icons that make it easy to navigate through their services.  In 2013, during the time we have been tracking department-level websites, the number of sites with mobile-friendly or responsive design has increased from 11% to 32%.The Department of Heritage and Arts just updated their site last month with an entirely new responsive design. Their new site uses large banners and buttons that are easily navigated from a small mobile device.  All of their Divisions are also using the responsive design, including State History, the Utah State Library, Arts and Museums, Multicultural Affairs and Indian Affairs.  As we push responsive design principles deeper into our domain, I expect to see the number of unique visitors continue to climb with the fast growing segment of our population using mobile devices as a primary way of accessing the web.We are also trying to make more of our online services useful to this mobile population.  Several years ago, we implemented a universal framework which made it easier to publish new services using a standard design. The Licensee Lookup service shown on the left is using the universal framework.  The interface is very simple for the mobile user.  Over the past couple of years, we have made dozens of services available to mobile users using the universal framework.  These are in addition to the apps found in our mobile app library.One of the major focuses now under the direction of Utah CIO, Mark VanOrden is to help improve the efficiency of government workers through the use of mobile technologies.  Dozens of new ideas are being reviewed and discussed that involve ways to improve government efficiency.  As they are rolled out, more workers will be able to file reports and access information from mobile devices.  One agency, which performs regular surveys that required them to gather information and photographs, then compile it into a report back in their office is now using tablets and reports time savings of over 3 hours a day in this process.We are working to apply the steps mentioned by Bill Eggers to government processes around the state and expect to see some great results.[...] 2013


We published the new portal last night and it looks like this:Probably more important than what it looks like are what it offers to Utah citizens and visitors.  We continue to simplify things with the portal and part of that was eliminating the scroll in this year's version.  Instead of having left side navigation buttons that take you down a parallax-scrolling site, we have used zoom to help drive users to major features.  Each of the three main boxes zoom out to provide additional content: news services, location-enabled services, and highlights.The top navigation remains consistent although our designer, Jonathan Higley, created all new iconography.The next feature bar includes our latest Twitter post, a date featuring a top event for the day which is driven directly from Google Calendar (Utah went to Google Apps for Government in November), and a location selector (  defaults to your current location and provides data and information based on that location automatically).The Smart Search is one of the most important features and has access to the Master Data Index (MDI) which underlies all of  1100 state online services, 1700 Utah government and education social media feeds (take a look at our Pinterest page and Google+ feed for example), multimedia, government agencies, and a wealth of other content types are all indexed by the MDI and drive how the content is provided to Smart Search as well as other places on the site, such as Connect.Utah.govWe hope you enjoy the changes. With over 1,200,000 monthly unique visitors, we feel an obligation towards regular improvement.  You've rewarded us by performing 31 million online transactions in 2012. Having citizens and businesses use's online services instead of standing in line helps us make state government more efficient.  We'll keep working toward that goal.[...]

Getting Ready for a Upgrade


In a few days, we will be introducing some new features on the state's digital government portal,  In advance, I thought that I could provide some information to emphasize that digital government is still an important concept.  Granted, it is one that continues to evolve and is having a significant impact on how we view government in general.

For me, digital government is still first about providing services and information. provides a lot of that with millions of pages of content and almost 1100 transactional services.  In 2012 alone, in a state of only 2.8 million residents, we processed over 31 million transactions.  That is a dramatic change in just the last 15 years from the time we put our first such service online.

Utah Insurance Transparency
Information services are also still very important.  These kinds of services have changed as well and many of them are becoming more dynamic. For example, take a look at our Utah Insurance Transparency Website.  The graphical interface hides the fact that this site provides all kinds of new data to the insurance consumer by making it simple and easy to compare costs and quality of service.  The latest insurance cost increases are also provided, allowing consumers to comment online prior to any approvals from the insurance department.  More transparency is certainly a good thing.  By the way, our transparency portal now provides access to 84 million records from every state and local government agency in Utah.

Speaking of data, an average of 114 gigabytes of open data is now downloaded every week from  This is the kind of data that has economic value and a multitude of uses. I'm glad to see that there are about 30,000 downloads every week.

Utah's online education initiative is also starting to pay off.  In fact, Utah was rated #1 in the recently published Digital Learning Report Card, receiving an "A" grade.  Florida is doing an outstanding job in this area as well.

Using Fusion Tables to Share Public Data


Google Fusion Tables is a great way to share public data.

Here's a table with data of the Utah Baseline Population Projections developed by Utah's Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.  Fusion Tables provides an easy-to-use interface for uploading data, whether you do it from an existing Google Spreadsheet, .xls file, of comma-delimited file, you can have the table ready to go in a few seconds.  Users can then analyze the data online, download it to a variety of formats, embed it in another site, etc.

Here's chart created and embedded using the population projection data.  It's nice because you can mouse over any of the data bars and get the exact number associated with it:

frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="'Cache+County'%2C+'Salt+Lake+County'%2C+'Utah+County'%2C+'Weber+County'%2C+'Davis+County'%2C+'Washington+County')+order+by+col0+asc+limit+10&viz=GVIZ&t=COLUMN&uiversion=2&gco_forceIFrame=true&gco_hasLabelsColumn=true&gco_type=columns&gco_vAxes=%5B%7B%22title%22%3Anull%2C+%22minValue%22%3Anull%2C+%22maxValue%22%3Anull%2C+%22useFormatFromData%22%3Atrue%2C+%22viewWindow%22%3A%7B%22max%22%3Anull%2C+%22min%22%3Anull%7D%7D%2C%7B%22useFormatFromData%22%3Atrue%2C+%22viewWindow%22%3A%7B%22max%22%3Anull%2C+%22min%22%3Anull%7D%2C+%22minValue%22%3Anull%2C+%22maxValue%22%3Anull%7D%5D&gco_useFirstColumnAsDomain=true&gco_isStacked=false&gco_booleanRole=certainty&gco_hAxis=%7B%22useFormatFromData%22%3Atrue%2C+%22minValue%22%3Anull%2C+%22maxValue%22%3Anull%2C+%22viewWindow%22%3Anull%2C+%22viewWindowMode%22%3Anull%7D&gco_legend=right&gco_title=Population+Projections+through+2030+for+Utah's+Most+Populated+Counties&width=500&height=300" width="500">

Mountain West Digital Library Anchors the National Public Library of America


The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) went live last week with much fanfare.  It's great to see something get going like this and I hope that it continues to grow. What you might not expect is that the largest partner of the DPLA originated right here in Utah.  The Mountain States Digital Library (MDLA) currently has 693,469 objects in the DPLA, more than even NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration.

The MDLA, which presently hosts resources from Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii is a project of the Utah Academic Library Consortium and is growing by the minute.  One of its more prominent collections is supported by the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts digitization project, which is a major effort to digitize historic artifacts and records owned by the department.

It's cool to see the DPLA taking an open approach to development.  The new site already hosts a couple of apps and offers resources for developers.  I'm excited to see what happens in the future as this online public library continues to grow and develop.

See also: "Meet the Hubs: Mountain West Digital Library" and "Bringing the Power of Digital History to the Mountain West"

Best of Digital Government in Utah 2012


Another year draws to a close and this blog is now over 10 years old. As you know, each of those years includes an end-of-the-year post reviewing the top 10 digital government achievements for the state of Utah. I'm not sure how long I will continue this annual review, perhaps this will be the last year and we'll move on to something different. I'll have to see how things go in 2013.  Before I get started, here is a look back to my review in 2011.Overall, 2012 has been a banner year for digital government in this state.  Progress has not begun to slow and there are still plenty of opportunities to do new and innovative things. Former CIO Steve Fletcher has moved on to work as chief of NTIA's new Office of Public Safety Communication. New state CIO, Mark VanOrden is now working hard to make progress in mobile government and information security. Here we go with 2012:Utah and Michigan remain atop the 2012 Digital State Survey. The biannual survey of state government use of digital technologies is the most comprehensive periodic review of digital government that exists.  Utah has remained atop the last three surveys, beginning in 2008.  This covers a lot of territory. Utah's digital government strategy is focused on results and the 2012 survey recognizes that.Utah rolls out an updated portal based on a new Master Data Index.  I mentioned the Master Data Index in a May 1 post. It enables us to integrate many of the diverse digital resources that the state supports into a more integrated digital ecosystem.  It is a resource that we will be able to build upon as we continue to enhance our digital presence with multi-channeled, cloud-based services.CPPA study identifies millions in savings from online services. This study, performed by the Center for Public Policy and Administration validates the argument that is behind digital government services and the effort Utah has made to deliver digital services. A second part of the study is now underway which will identify the value of digital government to business.Emphasis on jobs creation and related online initiatives. Governor Herbert's emphasis throughout the recession was to create jobs. In January, the Governor's Office rolled out the Utah Job Plan, a dashboard to track the ambitious goal of creating 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. By November, the unemployment rate was down to 5.1%, the lowest since the recession began. The Department of Workforce Services is committed to digital, supporting over 10 million digital service transactions a year.Utah government completes transition to Google. The state's move to Google Apps for Government is part of the second phase in a more comprehensive cloud computing plan.  It provides a platform for collaboration and will support more collaborative digital government. Utah provides new open data resources. State agencies continue to grow the availability of online data resources. The Utah Transparency Portal added special districts in 2012.  Over 150,000 KML files are now available on, making this the fastest growing open data file type on the portal.  This supports the sharing of transportation data, wildlife data, water data, and more.Utah Legislature's new portal. The state legislature implemented a complete overhaul of in October.  The new site has enhanced search functionality, a simplified layout, and will support new mobile services in the future.Increased statewide emphasis on information security. The security thr[...]

Analyzing Mobile Visitors to


ZTE ChorusIn the past 30 days, the portal has received visits from 305 different mobile devices.  These visits now account for about 13% of the total visits to the site.  Thats a lot of different devices, A-Z, everything from the Apple iPad to the ZTE D930 Chorus.  The new visitor rate for mobile devices is 20% higher than for all platforms. One area that really stands out is the higher bounce rate.  Even though has a responsive design that is particularly designed to support smartphone users, the bounce rate for mobile users is 47.66%, while the bounce rate for laptops and desktops is low at 15.6%.  Mobile users also spend 35% less overall time on the site and visit fewer pages.Apple iPadOne exception to these numbers is the iPad.  The iPad's bounce rate, at 18.9% is about 1/3 the bounce rate of almost any other mobile device.  The closest competitor is the Samsung Galaxy Tab at just over 45%.Xperia Arc57.5% of all mobile visits to come from two devices, the iPad and the iPhone.  That means that 303 devices comprise 42.5% of the visits, the most significant of those being the SonyEriccson Xperia Arc. I expect that these numbers will continue to evolve.  I was surprised most about the huge number of unique devices hitting the site.  We continue to discuss strategies for how to optimize the user experience for all of these uses and it is clear to me that we still have some ways to go.Google Nexus 7I had little personal experience with Android devices until this week when we got a Google Nexus 7 in order to begin preparing an Android User Guide for state employees that would be similar to our iPad User Guide.  I was pleased with the ease of setup for the Nexus and the interface for many of the apps, such as Flipboard and Twitter that I am accustomed to using.  We don't see many visits yet from the Nexus or the Amazon Kindle Fire.[...]