David Fletcher's Government and Technology Weblog : news & perspectives from a long-time egov advocate
Updated: 7/5/2005; 6:21:35 PM.




Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Two new Utah.gov websites came up over the weekend:

UDOT received a 2005 BE award for its Electronic Plan Room.  Meanwhile, deputy director Carlos Braceras found the skiing enticing up at Snowbird.  Not bad for the 4th of July.

My interview on egovernment and interoperability with Judith Clares has been published in Propolis.  You have to register to gain access.

I spent some time over the holiday reading up on the Singularity and Vernor Vinge.  Jonathan Huebner takes a contrary point of view in the New Scientist.

6:21:15 PM    comment []

Friday, July 01, 2005

A couple of resources for interoperability and emergency response:

The Utah Policy Partnership website is now live. 

John Gotze reports on Denmarks new list of 20 key interoperability standards.  Our list will not look quite the same.  Our statewide assessment has identified all desktop and server products in use throughout the state.  This and other information we have compiled over the past 3 months (a vast amount of data) will give us a great baseline from which to update the enterprise architecture and standards.

Nebraska has a new state portal.

Carlos reports that the second edition of Infogedas is now available.  Tao does an excellent job of reporting on egovernment issues.

It looks like Oregon will be spending about $100 million for their new consolidated data center.

I signed up for AFCNet service today.  100 MB service on the city's fiber network for $37.95.

5:57:42 PM    comment []

Monday, June 20, 2005

A handheld device for on-site detection of bacteria, viruses, molds, nucleic acids, mycotoxins and biotoxins won the Utah Innovations award for the biotechnology sector.  The BioDetector is made by AnzenBio and is applicable for military and homeland security purposes.  read more...

Salt Lake County is using GPS to support its crackdown on vehicle abuse.

Peter Quintas has a new weblog that tracks security / surveillance cameras around the world.  Read more...

Long Beach police are using Segways to patrol their streets.  A report on KSL radio this morning says that bomb squads in Utah are getting new Segways.

7:11:28 AM    comment []

Monday, June 13, 2005

New West Jordan Courts building will open next week.
The Western Governors Association meets today in Breckenridge, CO.  They will be hearing from the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy, as well as the EPA Administrator, all areas of importance for the west right now.  The theme for the conference is Western Leadership in the Global Economy.  I'm looking for any kind of technology agenda.  Yesterday's session was highlighted by futurist Joel Kotkin.

Back in 2000, Kotkin wrote a book entitled, The New Geography: How the Digital Revolution is Reshaping the American Landscape.  Kotkin spoke on about the same topic with the governors.  Kotkin's most recent book, published in April is entitled The City: A Global History.   A reviewer in Amazon writes:

"The most interesting point made in the book concerns the impact of technology - especially telecommunications - on cities. For the first time in history global megacities no longer have the advantage of size and scale. With computers and telecommunications, businesses can now process and transmit information anywhere - the periphery of the urban centers, small towns, to places anywhere in the world. Moreover, businesses can locate anywhere in the world - anywhere they have skilled workers. The urban center is no longer necessary to operate a global business, in fact, it is no longer desirable."

I guess that's the philosophy that the Utah Smart Sites initiative is built on.

8:19:15 AM    comment []

Friday, June 10, 2005

Utah.gov was selected as a 2005 Government Customer Support Excellence Awards finalist in two separate categories.  The state was a finalist in the Teamwork Excellence category and eventually won the award for excellence in Customer Focus.  The awards were presented at the recent Government Customer Support Conference held in Bethesda, MD.
5:15:01 PM    comment []

Friday, June 03, 2005

Utah's newly upgraded portal has been online since Tuesday afternoon.  The new site features six special interest portals and a more robust set of RSS newsfeedsiGov.Utah.gov promotes more participatory government.  Readers can also easily adjust the font size on the portal, a feature for those who may have trouble with smaller fonts.

Right after the French rejected the European Constitution and before the Dutch rejected it, the European Commission adopted its first initiative under the renewed Lisbon Strategy.  The initiative, i2010, promotes a unified strategy for the information society and media services within the EU.  Here's the new i2010 website.

I think Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen must be the first governor with his own podcast.  It's certainly a new way for a governor to communicate directly with the people.  I guess he also has a blog, but it only has two posts so far, nothing since May 22nd.

While in Barcelona, I met Alex Heichlinger, a senior researcher for the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA).  EIPA is promoting a common assessment framework to be used by government organizations improve the quality of what they do.

7:35:47 AM    comment []

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Margot Allstrom, Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communications for the European Union has a very well read blog where she shares her thoughts regarding issues related to the EU.

Commissioner Viviane Reding who is responsible for Media and the Information Society takes a more traditional and controlled press release approach to sharing news of her commission's work.  Not nearly as dynamic.  She does address, however, some great issues including her address this morning on the topic of grid computing:

"Grid Technologies are considered to be a crucial enabling technology in achieving the productivity and growth challenges necessary to meet the ‘Lisbon strategy’ goal of transforming the EU into the most competitive, knowledge-based economy in the world by the year 2010. This importance of Grids is reflected in the EU’s continued and growing financial support for Grid research in the 5 th and 6 th EU Framework programmes.

Similarly, in the next framework programme, FP7, Grids as drivers for new software infrastructures and service oriented architectures, are also recognised as being one of the main ICT topics with strong potential for providing innovation and large-scale economic and societal benefits."

Reding announced the creation of a European Grid Research Area (ERA) which is expected to be a cornerstone of what she is calling her i2010 initiative.

I will be posting more comments related to my trip to Catalunya on Catalunya Tech.

7:31:49 AM    comment []

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

An article in the Winston-Salem Journal points out some major systems challenges for North Carolina.  They have a 25-year old payroll system that is being held together by a soon-to-retire employee.  They are projecting an $85.7 million project to replace the system.  That's a lot of money for a payroll/personnel system.  I will simply say that it was done for a small fraction of that cost in Utah.  But that's only the beginning.  They spent $90 million for a financial system for the Department of Transportation.  Financial systems should be statewide, but I certainly understand why they did what they did.

And talk about megasystems: Ohio is prepared to spend $158 million on a new ERP that they're calling OAKS.  They claim that the system will save the state $251 million over a period of five years.  Good luck.  I have rarely seen an ERP of this size that was completed on time and under budget, BUT they're starting out with a pretty big budget so maybe they can do it.  Accenture was recently selected as the integrator of the new Peoplesoft system.

8:02:27 AM    comment []

I discovered that State Representative John Dougall has created a new weblog late last night, but when posting it to my new experimental enewsblog, forgot to add the link, so I don't have it this morning.  I am looking forward to a regular read of Dougall posts.  He comes from a technology background, but has been active in developing legislation in a number of key areas.  I did add the link for the Tom Warne Report.  Tom is the former executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation and posts insights related to road construction and other related transportation issues. 

7:51:43 AM    comment []

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I think we need to develop a vision / strategy that builds autonomic computing into the enterprise architecture.  Anything that we can do to automate the management and maintenance of infrastructure will free up the creative ability of human resources to focus on the development and creation of new systems to enhance the way we do business and improve the services that we deliver.  That is where value is found.  Here's a good article on the vision of autonomic computing.

Michael Vizard mentions that Ozzie Papic of Net Integration Technologies has developed a Linux distribution that includes self healing capabilities.  He writes of the benefits of such a technology:

The thing to remember is that the number of applications that computing can be applied to are huge. What's holding back our progress--and the overall industry--is the amount of money required to support an application. As those costs drop, the number of applications will increase. So instead of seeing a world where 80 percent to 90 percent of an IT budget is dedicated to ongoing support and maintenance, we could live in a world where 50 percent or more of IT budgets are actually dedicated to new applications.

I'll take a look at the NITIX product to see how it compares.

7:24:04 AM    comment []

Governor Leavitt has carried his 500 day plan concept with him from the EPA to the Department of Human Services and created a new plan that features many significant technology initiatives and creates a nice vision for where he wants to take the department.  Here are some highlights:

  • Will convene a national collaboration to further develop, set and certify health information technology standards and outcomes for interoperability, privacy and data exchange.
  • Will realize the near-term benefits of health information technology in the focused areas of adverse drug-incident reporting, e-prescribing, lab and claims-sharing data, clinic registrations and insurance forms.
  • Will create an integrated electronic network of privacy-protected population data, genetic information and medical records to accelerate discoveries that will define an individual’s risk of disease, response to treatment and likelihood of a side effect.
  • Will our international network of early-warning infectious disease surveillance.

Here's what Secretary Leavitt said after his first 50 days on the job:

"We also want to begin to use the power of technology."

You can count on that.  Technology will continue to be a growing part of the HHS agenda.

7:03:54 AM    comment []

Friday, May 06, 2005

Trudy Schuett maintains the Yuma Tech Consortium blog for the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce in Arizona.

Government Technology provides some additonal ideas on how local governments can use blogs.

The director of the Chicago Transit Authority, Carole Brown, is another public official that is using her blog to communicate with constituents.  In response, the "CTA Tattler" is calling for an invasion of Carole's blog.

Former governor Jerry Brown of California is using his blog to promote his environmental agenda.

bloggers without borders is discussing protections for "whistleblower" bloggers and discusses an article in the San Francisco Guardian entitled "Leave Bloggers Alone".

8:15:31 AM    comment []

Bonj gives us some occassional updates on the IT consolidation efforts in Missouri.  I looks like right now, one of the major discussion items is the shared use of Missouri DOT's dark fiber.  DOT's around the country are putting in fiber networks to support the development of intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

Massachussetts is using the ITS fiber to provide internet service in underserved areas of the state and enhance regional competitiveness.

Fort Bragg is anticipating savings of $50,000 a month through the implementation of a fiber based control network for their energy management system.

An article in ITS world states that the fiber in Salt Lake Valley was installed at a cost of $51 million, but the ATMS (advanced traffic management system) has an annual benefit of $179 million.  That sounds pretty significant.  Another article provides details about the system:

"...the ATMS provides instrumentation on 70 miles (112 km) of area freeways. The system includes closed circuit TV (CCTV) camera coverage every 3,300 ft (1,000 m), traffic monitoring systems that entail embedded loop detectors and microloops approximately every 2,640 ft (800 m), 31 variable message signs (VMS) located on the freeway, four weigh-in-motion stations on the I-15 corridor, seven roadway weather information stations (RWIS), and a fully redundant, self-healing fiber optic backbone communications system."

Costs and other information are found in the 2004-2008 Wasatch Front STIP.

There are some interesting comparison's with San Antonio's system.  Here's a look at their current data.

8:05:48 AM    comment []

I mentioned earlier that we are doing a series of online surveys to collect data about the entire IT operation in the State of Utah.  The data will be collected in MySQL databases and then we will need to best determine how to produce meaningful output that can be used in creating the new consolidated IT structure.  I like how the Knowlex online encyclopedia has made their content available in several useful formats, so maybe we'll try to use something like iText to generate PDFs on the fly from XML data.  Since this is a cross-agency effort that extends across the state, we have surveys developed in Java, PHP, and ASP.  They are all integrated with our Utah Master Directory for authentication.  We will also be connecting the data to SPSS for analysis.  We are using dotProject 2.0 for project management.  The new version is a major upgrade with some very nice enhancements.  I can't wait to move all of our other project management over as well.  2.0 integrates very nicely with the PostNuke portal that we are using as well.

7:36:13 AM    comment []

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Newt Gingrich has founded the Center for Health Transformation.  The Center's goal is to create a "21st Century Intelligent Health System."

May is National Fitness and Sports Month.  Find out more at fitness.gov.  HHS has also published a new parents guide at 4parents.gov.

Utah has a new Genomics Program website.

The new Utah State University Merrill Cazier Library will use RFIDs to track books in the system.  Their digital library has a growing collection of historical photos and western memorabilia.

The USGS Real-Time Streamflow system is a great resource to watch right now in Utah with potential flooding due to snowmelt conditions.

Here's an interesting article showing how communities can leverage GIS to improve community health.

HHS has launched a new service called Hospital Compare, a tool that provides you with information on how well the hospitals in your area care for all their adult patients with certain medical conditions.

Marcus Zillman, executive director of the Virtual Private Library has published a great resource on Healthcare Bots and Subject Directories.  In his blog, Zillman points out the new AHRQ Patient Safety Network, a great resource for the latest news on patient safety.

7:38:59 AM    comment []

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Registration has begun for Utah's new online construction registry.

Governor Huntsman had a chance to understand a little more about how UWIN has aided statewide communications interoperability in his recent visit to southern Utah.

Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is sponsoring a bill to restrict the information that the National Weather Service can post online.  This legislation threatens egovernment in general.  For the NWS, it would limit information to only that which private weather providers do not provide.  There are many good private sector weather information providers, including the weather channel and intellicast.

Arkansas has a new online service that allows friends and relatives to go online to deposit funds into inmate accounts.

The LA Times reports that the Dept. of Agriculture is about to award a new contract that consolidates federal campground reservations through a private provider.  Utah has been using ReserveAmerica for several years and it looks like they are a prime contender for the federal contract.  The reservation system will be accessible through recreation.gov which has also been doing a good job of coordinating with the states.  We provide our state parks and other information to the portal through an XML interface.

The Digital Divide Network reports on the USDA's new eHealth site.  MyPyramid.gov is supposed to help individuals structure a personalized health program.  The Network made 10 recommendations for improving egovernment service in their 2004 report: E-Government for All, Ensuring Equitable Access to Online Government Services.

7:40:53 AM    comment []

Monday, April 18, 2005

Here's the latest announcement on Utah's new CIO.

Tao Gedas is publishing a new periodical on information technology in the public sector.  Here's the first issue.

Carlos Guadian is a leader in recognizing the global nature of the revolution that is occuring in the way governments conduct business and has made his k-government weblog available in English and Chinese in addition to other languages.

Government Technology has a long writeup on Utah's eREP system (enterprise system for elegibility determination).  They contrast Utah's approach using the CURAM framework with Pennsylvania's efforts to tie legacy systems together with web services.  New Zealand will soon be making a decision on its implementation of CURAM.

11:12:52 AM    comment []

Friday, April 15, 2005

This is the future of monitoring: all the time, from your handheld

The Isles of Scilly report on a new egov initiative..

7:37:10 AM    comment []

Thursday, April 14, 2005

VITA, Virginia's recently consolidated IT department had $20 million in retained earnings last July.  Now (end of February) they're $1.4 million in the red.  That's peligroso to let that happen with a newly consolidated organization.  And they're expecting an even bigger deficit in the future unless agency rates are increased to recover extra costs for cybersecurity, an important initiative to be sure, but dangerous nevertheless.  Maybe that's not entirely accurate.  A closer look down the article points out a cashflow problem.  I think that also may indicate an accounting or reporting problem.  In my ISF, we maintain near real-time information, but only post revenues once a month.  It occurs electronically so the revenues post almost immediately when the bills go out.  At the first of the month, we look good and fall behind until the revenues post again.

As LaVarr points out, I am currently leading a cross-agency team in performing a statewide inventory of IT assets and resources.  We are planning to gather information in fifteen information technology areas as preparation to implement HB109:

  • Agency Service Needs
  • Architecture and Products
  • Business Communications
  • Centers of Excellence
  • Data Centers & Networks
  • Desktop Standards
  • Development Environments
  • Grants and Contracts
  • Information Systems
  • Procurement
  • Product Inventory
  • Project Management
  • Security
  • Skill & Job Activity
  • Storage and Coop
  • Voice and Wireless

This process will be completed by June 30th.

Paul Allen points out some of the progress broadband developments in Utah.

Tomorrow is tax deadline.  Be sure to file online if you've waited until now.

6:13:58 PM    comment []

© Copyright 2005 David Fletcher.

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