The National Technology Snapshot

The National Technology Snapshot

by / October 31, 1999
West Virginia
A 3-year-old purchase-card program for small purchases has saved the state government more than $16.8 million through July, according to the bank working with the state. The program puts a state credit card in the hands of the appropriate person at every state agency, and may be used for purchases of up to $1,000.

Jefferson County, the state's largest, has installed a Web-based system giving employees round-the-clock access to health, life, dental and other benefit information over the state intranet, or via a toll-free phone line.

Installing a second power circuit for Anchorage meant going underwater and laying cable across a 3.5-mile distance. Electric-power substations at Point Mackenzie and Point Woronzof will be connected with the new cable, plus Chugach's main power plant, located in Beluga, will be connected to Anchorage via the new cables.

The Legislature's Advanced Communications and Information Technology Committee met in mid-August to discuss technological trends in the state's telecommunications infrastructure and policies for disposing of obsolete technology.

Arizona's largest state agencies are 90 percent Y2K ready, said Gov. Jane Dee Hull. Medium-size agencies are 95 percent ready and the smallest agencies are 93 percent ready, according to a report issued in late July. The goal established last year was to achieve cumulative agency scores of at least 90 by June 30. Of the 239 mission --critical computer applications identified by the state, all but 16 are now replaced or repaired, fully tested and in production.

Gov. Gray Davis, at the end of July, signed into law a bill allowing electronic signatures and digital signatures to be used in brokerage agreements. His office said it's the first such law in the nation.

Colorado Springs School District No. 11 implemented a new financial and human-resources system in late July. The district, the state's fourth largest, has 60 schools, 33,175 students and 3,400 employees -- a big load that the new software will make easier to handle.

The Department of Information Technology site includes a Y2K information page that lists the ongoing status of the remediation of the "top 50" state computer systems. As of July, all but three systems had been remediated, and testing was incomplete on 12. Furthest behind was the attorney general's case-tracking system, with an expected completion date of Nov. 1.

Motorola has agreed to fix problems with the state's $50 million radio communications system. Tests show low signal levels in Hartly, Rehoboth, Brandywine Hundred, Claymont and Hockessin. USA Today

Clearwater's Fire and Rescue Department will use infrared imaging technology to help find and prevent blazes. A handheld thermal imaging unit will let firefighters see through smoke, improving safety and effectiveness.

The state's switch to a new computer system for general ledger and purchasing went off without a serious glitch this summer, the governor's chief technology adviser said. "They turned it on at 11:56 [a.m.] and no one's called me to say 'uh-oh,' " Jim Flowers, adviser to Gov. Roy Barnes, said the day the system went up. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Benjamin Cayetano recently released $8.2 million from the state's construction budget to upgrade the technical infrastructure in Hawaii's public schools. These improvements will ensure that all classrooms are prepared to receive more computers for learning. This is the second inst- allment of a total of $20 million designated for technology improvements in schools.

The Nampa City Council voted 3-1 to withhold $50,000 in book-procurement funds unless the public library puts pornography filters on its two Internet terminals. While noting that the terminals are already in constant view of staff members, librarians said they are studying filters to find the best software for the job. Idaho Press-Tribune

The state will build an advanced data- warehouse system to manage Illinois' $6 billion medical-assistance programs, allowing greater efficiency and making fraud easier to prevent in the Medicaid and KidCare programs.

The Department of Health was singled out by NASIRE for its innovative use of technology in applying GIS to its lead-poisoning-prevention efforts, correlating data on the toxin with community infrastructure and demographic data.

Officials with the Iowa Caucus Project 2000 unveiled a "virtual office" aimed at offering nonpartisan information about precinct caucuses. Listings on the Web site include information about candidates, key contacts, schedules, hospitality services and a discussion of issues. USA Today

The interim legislative committee on education will study new methods of delivering instruction to school children, including the possible development of a state technology backbone, chairman Ralph Tanner said in August. The committee also will study the issue of school violence. Topeka Capital Journal

The commonwealth's "Information Highway," an integrated communications backbone built through strategic partnerships with a consortium of communications companies, earned a NASIRE award for innovation in public/private partnerships.

The Department of Transportation and Development in July reported 100 percent Y2K remediation and contingency planning for all but one of 31 mission-critical systems. Remaining was phone-switch replacement, which was in the testing phase.

The Bridge Management Section and the Bridge Maintenance Division of the Maine DOT have joined in a combined effort to automate the Bridge Maintenance Inspection Report file system via the use of a computer imaging system. The Bridge Imaging System allows rapid access to bridge inspection data for Maine's 3,565 bridges and has greatly decreased dependence on paper files. FSI State & Local

Some Marylanders who filed their state income-tax returns electronically this year face possible penalties because they failed to mail in a signature page and W-2 forms detailing income and taxes withheld by employers. Originally, about 5,500 taxpayers of the almost 21,500 who filed 1998 returns by computer did not follow up with the necessary paperwork, state officials said. USA Today

Massachusetts colleges and universities are using IT Bond II funds to work on a project to connect every classroom and office to local and wide area networks. Although many phases of this project are nearing completion or are complete, the campuses still need to build instructional classrooms for distance learning and train staff to use the technology. The Board of Higher Education plans to fund four regional training centers with $200,000 initially set up for each center, and $200,000 a year per center for operations.

The Office of the State Employer is installing a health-information-management system to monitor and evaluate the state's health-insurance program.

Sen. Steve Kelley was honored by the League of Minnesota Cities as one of its legislators of the year. Chief among the reasons, according to the league, was Kelley's focus on technology issues, including telecommunications, electronic commerce and Y2K.

State Auditor Phil Bryant has asked Gov. Kirk Fordice to declare the first business day of 2000, Jan. 3, a holiday, to help the state ease into the new year and deal with any millennium-bug problems. At press time, Fordice had made no decision on the possibility. The (Biloxi) Sun Herald

The Department of Natural Resources is continuing its work on a geographic reference system for Platte County. The system will be a valuable surveying tool for government offices, realtors and others.

The Parmly Billings Library has decided to issue a library card that sets levels of Internet access, allowing adults to have full access while providing a way to restrict children from seeking out inappropriate sites.

State libraries have received grants totaling $218,620 to fund technology projects. The
funds come from the federal Library Services and Technology Act. Nebraska Municipal Review

Since Aug. 13, Clark County -- home of "marriage capital" Las Vegas -- has offered a marriage-certificate search through its Web site . The county already had a searchable marriage-record database.

New Hampshire
Communities throughout the state have been able to assess their Y2K readiness through free workshops from New Hampshire Community Technical College campuses statewide.

New Jersey
Plainfield's City Council has approved $300,000 to upgrade the police department's computer system, and Newark has spent about $10.5 million to establish a new dispatch center for its fire and police agencies. New Jersey Municipalities

New Mexico
The state tourism board this summer debuted a searchable events calendar online . Users can search by topic ("Indian" finds nine festivals, with dates and details) or by location ("Albuquerque" is packed with 39 events and exhibits).

New York
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward Ramos ruled in late July that online wagering is illegal in the state, marking the first time a New York court has outlawed such activity. In his decision, Ramos targeted a virtual casino owned by a New York company but operating from Antigua. The company, World Interactive Gaming Corporation, claimed its dealings are legal because bets are placed from accounts set up in the island nation where online casinos are legal. Ramos disagreed.

North Carolina
This summer, Gov. Jim Hunt named a Rural Prosperity Task Force to be led by former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. A key subject of the task force's study will be information technology.

North Dakota
The American Association of Law Libraries named the North Dakota Supreme Court Internet page the best overall judicial site. Among
the reasons: opinions, both full-text and summary, available from 1993 to the present; strong search functions; biographical data on judges; and good hypertext links.

Ohio recently proposed making it possible to conduct electronic-commerce transactions -- such as fishing-license payments and driver's-license renewals -- over the Internet. The State Deposit Board is negotiating a contract with a Cincinnati bank to permit credit and debit-card payments over the Internet. The Ohio Secretary of State's Office, the Accountancy Board and the Commerce Department plan to participate in the pilot slated to be running by year's end. Ohio is one of several states, such as Utah, Oregon, Texas and Idaho, pursuing electronic-commerce plans.

Oklahoma should worry more about "getting it right" than whether it is the last state to adopt alternative regulation for telephone companies, a Senate analyst said. Bill Thoms told the state's Telecommunications Task Force that he had attended a workshop presented by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and hadn't felt that any state was "getting it right" on the issue. The Oklahoman

The state Department of Human Resources -- the state's largest agency which serves the state's poorest residents -- said in mid-August that it would be fully Y2K compliant before Sept. 1. Portland Oregonian

Redleaf Venture Management, an early-stage Internet-oriented venture-capital fund, was slated to open its Atlantic headquarters in Pennsylvania this September. Officials with Redleaf cited Gov. Tom Ridge's efforts in developing the recently announced Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse as a critical factor convincing them of Pennsylvania's expanding high-tech leadership.

Rhode Island
A new computer program has been installed in a majority of libraries across the state. The program is designed to help Rhode Island's elderly learn what federal and state benefits they may be eligible for. "The MicroMax system is the next step in our pledge to bring information on senior programs and services into the community," Gov. Lincoln Almond said
in a press release. "Soon, all senior-center computer systems will be equipped with the MicroMax, the Internet and electronic mail."

South Carolina
Rock Hill police began upgrading their laptop computers in late June. When efforts are complete, their ability to look up license-plate and driver's-license numbers will be enhanced by the ability to file reports by computer. The upgrade was to take about five weeks.

South Dakota
Gov. Bill Janklow said in August he is providing more than $2.1 million for new equipment at four technical institutes so that students will be prepared to receive better-paying jobs. In five years, Janklow has now provided $10,253,841 to upgrade the technical institutes at Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Mitchell and Watertown.

Public Technology Inc. awarded an R&D grant to Memphis for a residential fuel-cell system demonstration, a research project that will categorize fuel cells by various components and select one to be installed into a residential system.

The Texas Workforce Commission's new Web site offers employers and those looking for work the chance to connect free of charge. Hire Texas already holds information on 30,000 jobs and has 1.4 million registered users looking for jobs, making it the best place to look for work in Texas.

The state's mobile data-collection system and law enforcement laptops earned an Intergovernmental Applications award from NASIRE. The program is an in-vehicle laptop system connected to an intergovernmental and private-sector network used to support local police, highway patrolmen and others in law enforcement.

The Vermont Center for Geographical Information Inc. , at the University of Vermont, has created a CD-ROM package of state GIS data for those looking to "jumpstart" a GIS operation.

Gov. James Gilmore was named to the National Governors' Association's Information Task Force.

Then-acting Department of Information Services director Clare Donahue participated in Gov. Gary Locke's Capital for a Day event, which sought to take state government to local communities. She discussed technology and development issues with local officials.

West Virginia
See featured item.

The state could spend up to $1 million on new or existing biotechnology companies under a plan approved by a legislative panel. The plan is designed to draw high-tech companies to Wisconsin. USA Today

The Wyoming Department of Transportation formed a GIS Implementation Task Force. The task force has put together a multistage, GIS-development proposal. Phase one, already under way, will include constructing the agency's first GIS base map and integrating data records from the agency's Utilities Section. Also during the first phase, scheduled for completion by Nov. 15, department program managers and field administrators are being interviewed to determine how GIS can best be used. *

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