eGovernment Ahead Of Schedule
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eGovernment Ahead Of Schedule

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Next-generation state Web portals are here now, bringing people closer to government ...

Next-generation state Web portals are here now, bringing people closer to government
with more services, new designs and Web 2.0 social media capabilities. Read more about the creative ways in which states are using eGovernment Web sites to deliver services to citizens.

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eGovernment Ahead Of Schedule eGovernment Ahead Of Schedule Document Transcript

  • Thought Leadership Profile | NIC AheAd of Schedule Next-generation state Web portals are here now, bringing people closer to government with more services, new designs and Web 2.0 social media capabilities. AdverTisiNg suPPLemeNT
  • In eGovernment today, Web 2.0 and social media platforms are hot topics. And that’s for good reason. Numerous states are revamping their Web portals, giving them popular new features and making them more But the growth in eGovernment portals dynamic for users. isn’t just being driven by popular new Web 2.0 applications enable video, social features; it’s also a result of government networking, wikis, blogs, news feeds, and using technology to serve constituents more more. Government is using Web 2.0 to make effectively. NIC helps 21 states achieve their said Herington. He added, however, that its portals more like commercial sites, which eGovernment and Web 2.0 goals. “We have Web 1.0 is still the critical foundation that is what the public wants. People use features always felt that the ‘e’ in ‘eGovernment’ supports Web 2.0 and emerging technolo- like interactive tools, videos and RSS in their stands for ‘efficient,’” said Harry Herington, gies. Government still needs to provide more everyday online lives. Now government is CEO of Kansas-based NIC. “By providing basic services online. To that end, NIC main- offering those services, too. these services online and creating more tains a knowledge library of more than 3,900 State government portals are packed responsive, real-time solutions for govern- installed eGovernment services and helped with transaction-driven services, volumes ment and those it serves, we are helping its partner states launch another 400 new of information, and beautiful images. states, citizens, and businesses operate applications in 2007. Enhanced search capabilities give users more efficiently.” NIC makes it easy for its state partners to instant access to it all. States are also The ultimate benefits are more transpar- implement innovative eGovernment services finding innovative ways to use tools like ency and better public service. “Web 2.0 through a proven self-funding approach. Twitter, the new social networking and provides an interactive channel into govern- States pay nothing for the portal infrastruc- micro-blogging service. ment that has not been available before,” ture or development of online services, and modest convenience fees are applied to a limited number of services, most of which support high-volume transactions for regu- Watch the Videos lated industries. Self-funding gives a state a vastly improved Web portal and citizens get more services — all at no upfront cost to taxpayers. The next-generation portals are here now. States are deploying imaginative services through advanced eGovernment concepts and Web 2.0 tools. And they plan to do more. A leader in eGovernment Innovate. That’s what Utah’s been doing for years with its state Web portal. Whether it’s the latest Web 2.0 technolo- gies or visionary plans for the future, Utah is a leader. 
  • including messages from the governor, tourism, emergency management and transportation. Virginia.gov also provides RSS feeds; podcasts; emer- gency alerts for hurricanes, wildfires, Utah.gov took first place in the state security incidents and more; and portal category for the 2007 Best of the Web numerous widgets. The widgets are competition. The site also won first place in windows with interactive information 2003. Today Utah is still setting the stan- on road conditions, lottery numbers, dard for next-generation portals. And other state parks and more. They can be states continue to watch Utah to see what’s easily pulled by users into their own coming next. blogs, MySpace and iGoogle Web sites, The strength of the state portal was a major and Facebook profiles. factor in Utah’s decision to adopt a four-day and audio files, including press conferences, It all starts with an attractive home page work week in mid-2008 to cut costs and training videos, citizen advisories and more. that makes it easy to see what’s available. conserve energy. “That wouldn’t have been The state is working on several plans for From there users can quickly move to deeper possible without all of the online services the portal’s future. This includes a Web 2.0 levels. The portal offers improved interfaces, and capabilities that have displaced people collaboration plan, which will enable more and is more dynamic and visually appealing having to come into offices to do things,” said online interaction with businesses, citizens, than ever before. Utah Chief Technology Officer Dave Fletcher. and other state and local governments. The In January 2008, Peggy Feldmann was Thanks to the powerful Web portal, citizens portal also will provide centralized access named Virginia’s first chief applications can interact with the state 24/7, making it to information on public meetings for 3,000 officer. She’s helping Virginia leverage appli- practical to close state offices on Fridays. government entities throughout the state. cations from an enterprise perspective as the Several hundred government services are Clearly Utah believes in eGovernment, and state moves forward on numerous initiatives, available online at Utah.gov, and new features sees Web 2.0 as a key enabler. “Absolutely,” including more shared services, less paper are added regularly. Many of these services are said Fletcher. “I think it will help government and an ever-evolving Web presence. enabled by Web 2.0. “We were one of the first interact more effectively with citizens and be “We’re excited about what we’re doing states to use Twitter, for example, to communi- more responsive to their needs.” with social media,” said Feldmann. Future cate in real time with our citizens,” said Fletcher. plans include blogs, a portal for users to The portal highlights the most popular submit ideas, and other Web 2.0 features. searches, and provides homework help It’s all about providing more information for for students. It also offers live chat 24/7 for Award-Winning Progress users. “Our goal is to provide citizens with the users with questions. “The live chat is a fairly Virginia.gov ranked first in the state portal knowledge of anything and everything about elaborate system,” said Fletcher. “We track category for the 2008 Best of the Web Awards. Virginia, both how the commonwealth works the questions that people are asking, and use A new and improved version of the Virginia in providing services and also what we have that information to constantly improve our portal went live in the spring of 2008, with eye- to offer to our citizens, and to tourists and site by making access to information more catching images, numerous Web 2.0 features, anyone else who visits,” she said. intuitive for our users.” more information and smoother navigation. The portal improvements reflect Virginia’s In addition, the portal provides Utah Govcast, The portal has 26 YouTube channels with commitment to both eGovernment and the a multimedia center with numerous video more than 100 videos on a variety of topics, environment, an approach with numerous AdverTisiNg suPPLemeNT 
  • environment,” said Rosenbaum. “Everyone benefits for both the state and its citizens. we want to have a conversation with is doing “We’re really working hard to move toward a so online. That’s how we’re connecting with true eGov perspective,” said Feldmann. “Not our constituents now.” only from just digitizing the paper we have The site is popular with users, but Rosen- today, but then moving out of using paper in the various opportunities that come and go in baum sees more potential. “I really think we’re future and helping to save trees in the process.” the creative world. “Web 2.0 is absolutely the just scratching the surface here,” he said. “To direction in which we need to head in order me, the next chapter in all of this is how to really to respond to this changeable environment,” have online conversations and communities, said Rosenbaum. where work can be shared and commented Web .0 Makes connections If you thought creative people are low-tech upon, and people can be engaged.” The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and don’t go online, think again. “Most of the fosters public interest and participation in the people we serve and support are incredibly arts. It’s also a liaison between government engaged online,” noted Rosenbaum. “They and Rhode Island’s arts community. are networked and prolific computer users.” celebrating Success A new version of the council’s Web site, People are creating works of art with Not many Web portals are celebrated arts.ri.gov, went live in early 2008, and computers, and sharing those efforts online. with a press conference by the governor it aggressively uses Web 2.0 to engage They’re also using the online tools for basic — but Nebraska’s was. The redesigned constituents. The site provides a broad variety communication. “We communicate electroni- Nebraska.gov was launched in June 2008, of information, but it’s also a hub for social cally with practically everyone that we serve. with Governor Dave Heineman praising it networking, with connections to the council’s There is very little printed communication for bringing Nebraska citizens closer to their presence on MySpace, YouTube, Facebook happening now, which is also good for the government. and Twitter. The site also has a blog, RSS feed, chat, and information on artist housing and health care, grants, public art, arts organizations, education, shows, galleries and much more. Web 2.0 makes perfect sense for the council and its mission. “The arts community itself isn’t static,” said Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the council. “We don’t just provide unchanging information on an ongoing basis. There is always something new and different happening in our vibrant arts community.” The Web 2.0 approach helps people communicate with each other, add their voices to a discussion and stay abreast of the 
  • “Web .0 provides an interactive channel into government that has not been available before.” Harry Herington Chief executive Officer, NiC Having undergone a complete redesign, Nebraska.gov was a finalist in the 2008 Best of the Web competition. The state focused hard on what users need and want from the portal. The result is increased accessibility to government services and a more intuitive user interface. Users can now access more than 300 online services in just two clicks. A live chat service is available 24/7 for users with ques- tions. The text on the site has been translated into 12 languages. A “Search By Task” feature The front page has numerous links laid allows users to find what they’re looking for out on an attractive screen. These include even if they don’t know exactly what to call it. business services, alerts, education info By creating the site from the user’s and a rotating “carousel” of new and unique perspective, Nebraska eliminated the need services. Links are well organized and seem- for citizens to know which agency or depart- ingly everywhere. ment they were seeking services from. “You The portal allows users to easily change don’t have to know how we’re organized to the size of the text, something that older users find what you’re looking for,” said Brenda appreciate. And it appeals to younger users Decker, CIO of Nebraska. “We put our most with its true mobile version, allowing citizens popular services for our citizens right on the to see the site perfectly on mobile devices. front page.” The self-funding model provided by NIC made a difference for the state. “Everyone nation’s first education portal that provides is in such tight economic times,” said students, parents, workers and teachers Decker. “I think this has been an effective with a central resource for more than 900 means of lowering traditional state costs education-based services. and yet deploying some much needed and Data is much easier for citizens to find. very good services for citizens. It’s worked The portal’s design is functional, not organi- well in Nebraska.” zational, allowing users to quickly drill down to the information they want. Prior to this, citizens needed to know which government agency provided a particular service if they functional design, Big difference wanted to find more information on it. West Virginia is the latest state to partner “Our citizens have better things to do than with NIC, and the collaboration produced spend a lot of time navigating the state Web immediate results. The state’s new portal, site in search of information that’s difficult to WV.gov, debuted in May 2008, and the feed- find,” said Kyle Schafer, CTO of West Virginia. back from the public has been very positive. “The new site is logical and straightforward, That’s because the portal gives access to and we’re glad to link together resources huge amounts of information in a clear and from different levels of government to help simple presentation. WV.gov also features the citizens quickly find what they need.” AdverTisiNg suPPLemeNT 
  • The new portal has a common look and feel across all state agencies. Prior to this, each agency created its own Web site, which resulted in dozens of different designs. The entire experience is now much more seamless for users. The portal also includes a new enterprise- class content management system, which enables agencies to update information themselves, instead of relying on portal IT Locatis was named CIO in January 2007. In 2008, the Colorado Web portal under- staff. And the state added a Google search Legislation was passed in 2008 to consoli- went a major redesign. When doing the feature specific to the state’s information. date the state’s IT assets and give more overhaul, the state focused on the end-user The new portal helps West Virginia authority to the CIO. Those changes are experience. “Having services available 24/7 respond to growing demand for electronic resulting in standardized systems, helping to make it more convenient for our citizens services and interaction. “Our citizenry is the state expand its online services. eGov- is imperative for us,” said Locatis. “I think expecting it,” said Schafer. “With our Gen ernment is expected to be more effective the portal also does a great job navigating X and Gen Y folks, they expect to do things under the new structure. to information about the state of Colorado. online and not have to stand in line.” Creating the portal was a lot of work, but it went more quickly than expected, making the state optimistic about adding even more services soon. “We thought eGovernment was years away,” said Schafer. “But with the speed at which NIC has been able to bring up sites, we can provide those eGovernment services here in the very near future.” New era, New Portal Colorado believes in the power of the portal. The state unveiled the new version of Colorado.gov in May 2008. It’s a dynamic tool that helps users find a wealth of informa- tion on a wide variety of topics. It’s a new era for IT in Colorado, and eGovernment is a big part of that. Mike 
  • So we’re making it easier for citizens to transact business on the Web, and helping them to find critical information regarding Colorado state government.” The portal is now more appealing to the eye, and content is always evolving, encouraging citizens to return often. A Media Center offers links to cameras for weather, traffic and mountain conditions. In addition to Live Help online customer service, Colorado.gov offers AskColo- rado, which enables online chat with a state librarian. The portal also has photo galleries, and a section that highlights communities within the state. provided through a Web 2.0 platform is really Furthermore, lists of services are auto- valuable,” said Meuse. The site uses RSS matically sorted based on frequency of use, and other feeds to distribute information to after election. “I think that’s something so the links used most often are always at constituents. The office is working with NIC elected officials will be looking forward to in the top of lists on the portal. “It’s a smart on adding more feeds, including information the future and learning how to take advan- site,” said Locatis. “It collects a lot of infor- on weather, news and health care. tage of now,” he said. mation — not about the people who navi- Future plans include offering videos of gate it, but how they use the site — so that government meetings. “So many decisions it can be shaped and be a self-improving that government makes are made in public resource.” As a result of Colorado.gov’s new meetings,” said Meuse. “Putting out that type Moving forward portal design, the state was named a finalist of information — decision-makers in action, These next-generation portals fit in in Best of the Web for the first time in 2008. on video on the Internet for all the constitu- perfectly with several key themes running ents to see — leads to better involvement in through government today: doing more with government, better knowledge about what’s less, improving citizen services, promoting going on, and a more informed citizenry.” interaction and protecting the environment. Power to the People There are other plans as well. “One feature Perhaps the exciting part is that states Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Eliza- that will be added is blogging, so people can are just getting started. Great strides have beth Roberts wants citizens to have more really get to know the lieutenant governor, be been made in the use of Web 2.0 and other information about what their government is able to see what she’s doing, see what her online tools, but there is still much terri- doing. That’s why the Web site for the Office opinions are,” said Meuse. “The news media tory to explore. “Web 2.0 is in its infancy in of the Lt. Governor, ltgov.ri.gov, has Web 2.0 can only cover so much, which is where government,” said NIC’s Herington. “And features that foster more interaction between technology can help deliver information.” By it’s going to get stronger. I’m excited about the state and its residents. pushing out information itself via blogs, the what the future holds.” Dan Meuse, deputy chief of staff for office can inform citizens about where the As the preceding case studies show, the office, said a priority for the lieutenant lieutenant governor stands on key issues. numerous states share that excitement, and governor is easy communication in both Meuse predicts more elected officials will they are deploying innovative and practical directions. The Web makes that possible. use social networking — both as a campaign online features that respond to their commu- “Using the resources of syndication that are tool and to engage citizens in government nication goals and constituent needs. AdverTisiNg suPPLemeNT 
  • To learn more about next-generation eGovernment portals, please contact Elizabeth Proudfit at 703-288-0980 or eproudfit@nicusa.com. This Government Technology custom publication is sponsored by NiC. © 2008 e.republic inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the u.s.A.