March 2, 2005 By Government Technology
-- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor
Connecting Scattered Communities
South Dakota is a large state with few people, but CIO Otto Doll helped span the distance between scattered communities with a statewide radio system.
The system has more than 10,000 users, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, hospital emergency rooms, health clinics, transit bus drivers and state public safety officials.
"The state established one system where everyone can talk to anyone else," Doll said. "As one would find if you come here to South Dakota, being small, being spread out, very often we need the support, we need the resources of neighboring communities. So it was very important for us to establish something that was ubiquitous across the whole state."
South Dakota also has been quite successful at deploying technology in its K-12 school systems. "We're always able to implement capabilities, whether it's access to the Internet; high-speed access to the Internet; providing e-mail to all teachers, administrators and students; hosting their Web sites, etc.," Doll said.
South Dakota help every school in the state tap into advanced IT resources, Doll said. "We wired every school in the state, all 660 school buildings, back in the '90s. We interconnected all of them through the high-speed wiring network the state has. We have video conferencing to every high school, every junior high, a number of the elementary schools, state offices, etc.," he said. "We didn't implement it in just some school districts or some percentage -- it's 100 percent."
One principle that guides Doll's IT activities is the need to use taxpayer dollars efficiently.
"You can look at my organization's strategic plan, and you'll see the first two strategies are sort of two sides of the same coin," he said. "On one hand, of course, we want to reduce the cost of IT wherever possible, but on the other hand, we want to reduce agency cost through use of IT."
-- Jessica Jones, Managing Editor
Jennifer M. Granholm
Building an Economic Powerhouse
The United States has two foreign-born governors. One actor-turned-politician has grabbed plenty of headlines and publicity as he runs the nation's most populous state. The other, a mother of three originally from Vancouver, B.C., is governor of Michigan, a state with an industrial economy buffeted by the challenges of the Information Age and globalization.
Like so many other governors sworn into office in 2002, Jennifer Granholm immediately tackled a massive budget deficit of $3 billion, leaving her little room to maneuver in launching new programs and other initiatives. Instead, she put her efforts into reviving an economy that lost a substantial number of high-paying jobs (unemployment in Michigan reached 7 percent in November 2004) while finding scarce funds for her priorities, including education, children and health care.
Despite the obstacles, Granholm boosted the state's use of technology. Perhaps her most striking move was to hire Teresa Takai as Michigan's CIO. Takai -- with the solid backing of the governor -- moved quickly to put the state's IT infrastructure and services on a more corporate model, where enterprise solutions, good governance and accountability take precedence.
Results emerged quickly. In September 2004, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers recognized two of Michigan's IT solutions for their excellence. The Electronic Filed Unemployment Claims Project allows citizens to submit unemployment claims from their homes using the Internet or phone. Since the system's launch, the state closed 43 branch offices and reduced paperwork..
Michigan's Critical Incident Management System is a Web-based application using GIS that aids numerous first responders around
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