March 1, 2010 By Andy Opsahl
Utah made a splash in 2009 with its e-government-focused portal overhaul, an effort spearheaded by state CTO David Fletcher. The innovative redesign earned Utah.gov the top ranking among state portals in the Center for Digital Government's Best of the Web survey last year.
The timing of Utah.gov's update couldn't have been better. Much of the state's work force transitioned to a four-day workweek in 2008, with many state office buildings closing on Fridays. The portal redesign aimed to make that situation more livable by offering citizens more Web-based services. One of the site's new features that piqued interest in the government IT community was geo-IP technology, which lets the portal read a user's IP address and uses GIS to match it with links relevant to the user's physical surroundings.
"We wanted to localize the services and information so they would mean more to the citizens," said Fletcher. "The geo-IP enabled us to determine what public meetings and services would apply to citizens using the site."
Those customized links also include data for local parks, libraries and schools.
Fletcher - a prolific tweeter who maintains seven Twitter accounts, each on different topics - has been a driving force behind Utah government's use of social media. Engaging social networks was a top priority for Fletcher's portal revision. Utah.gov assembles links to all social network activity by state agencies. And late last year, Utah became one of the first states to release guidelines for appropriate use of social media tools by state employees.
As government social media use builds momentum, Fletcher is helping to pioneer effective use of these tools in the public sector.
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