National Technology Snapshot

A 50-state roundup of information technology news and events.

by / March 31, 1997
The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled that sales taxes may be collected on software purchases, overturning a 1977 court ruling that software was not a tangible product, only a license to use knowledge. Birmingham Post-Herald

Alaska received $1.5 million from BP Exploration to establish a 25-unit network-based computer lab in 15 school districts

The Motor Vehicle Division and IBM will create an Internet site for customers to renew vehicle registration, order special license plates and file change-of-address forms.

To raise funds for new computers, high-school students in Little Rock wrote chapters for an online project called NetNovel. All text except for the last chapter is available online at . Morning News of Northern Arkansas.

To help California flood relief efforts, AT&T donated more than 350 cellular phones with unlimited air time and $5,000 worth of prepaid calling cards to American Red Cross service centers.

Rep. Phil Pankey introduced a bill to establish a committee to evaluate identification systems for welfare recipients. The system includes individual ID numbers, photo IDs, fingerprint images and retinal scans to identify those eligible for benefits. Wyoming News.

The Office of Policy and Management awarded a contract to Brite Voice Systems for telecommunications and utility billing verification services.

Delaware received $2 million in grants to establish new statewide Advanced Technology Centers for improved technology-based economic development.

The Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Accountability initiated a project to examine how computer technology can improve efficiency in state government.

Negotiations are ongoing between Siemens, Oldsmobile, Differential Corrections Inc., and the Atlanta Traveler Showcase Project to provide realtime traffic information in Atlanta.

The state Department of Education received a Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand the "Electronic School, " a school using multimedia technologies to transform the traditional model into a virtual learning center.

The Economic Advisory Council received a $300,000 Idaho Community Development block grant to help fund a new telecommunications facility.

The Lake County Building and Zoning Division and PlanGraphics Inc. completed the first phase of an information technology study and will begin the second phase to provide IT for the entire Department of Planning, Zoning and Environmental Quality.

The Indiana Higher Learning Education Telecommunication System purchased MultiLink's System 80 multipoint control unit to incorporate videoconferencing into its existing satellite network for more than 50 colleges and universities.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and the Fiscal Services Bureau uses Watermark software to reduce manual paperwork and maintain electronic accounting records for the Iowa Public Defender's Office and its Indigent Defense Fund.

The Department of Revenue unveiled two new programs to improve taxpayer service. Taxpayers can file their state taxes by phone with Telefile and find answers to common tax questions on Tel-Assist, a 24-hour, toll-free help line available at 800/259-2829.

The Louisville-Jefferson County Information Consortium selected PlanGraphics Inc. to enhance its GIS system to support economic development activities in Louisville and Jefferson counties.

The Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics sponsored the Annual Management for Information Conference in February. The conference allowed representatives from across the country to share their experiences and expertise on information technology issues and policies.

Residents in Acton and Limerick are starting their own community patrol using cellular phones. According to officials at the York County Sheriff's Department, "homegrown" programs may pave the way for greater support for professional law enforcement in rural areas. Biddeford Journal Tribune.

The state Registers of Wills contracted with Highland Technologies Inc. to supply its
HighView ST for document scanning, storage and retrieval of the high volume of records for estates and wills.

Massachusetts selected 13 school districts to serve as Lighthouse schools -- a federal grant program that provides each school district with up to $30,000 to serve as a technology demonstration site for educational professionals.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department selected Westin Engineering Inc. for its management information system. The three-year contract includes installation of new PCs, servers and supporting software.

The city of Bloomington hired PlanGraphics Inc. to conduct a GIS integration study on a new system that will service multiple departments and agencies.

The Educational Computing Association and the Ed Tech '97 Trade Show Committee sponsored the Mississippi Educational Technology Conference early this year. The trade show introduced educators to current and emerging educational technologies.

The 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County and Southwestern Bell unveiled the "Courtroom of the Future." The new courtroom allows lawyers to animate images, show images in 3-D and use videoconferencing to talk to witnesses.

To reduce traffic accidents in Gallatin Canyon, the Western Transportation Institute at Montana University requested a $5 million grant from Congress to study and test intelligent transportation systems. Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Gov. Ben Nelson's budget included a $23 million investment in the Information Science, Technology and Engineering Institute, a "virtual university" to be built in Scottsbluff.

The Clark County Fire Department purchased an automated voice dispatching system from GCN Electronic Inc. "The Voice Lady" automatically alerts fire and emergency medical services personnel.

New Hampshire
GIS information for planners, town officials, resource managers and the general public can be found on the New Hampshire ResourceNet Web site at .

New Jersey
In response to the state Supreme Court's request to provide education to the state's poorest children, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman allocated $500 million to help develop a distance learning network that will link all schools in the state.

New Mexico
Rep. Daniel Silva introduced a bill to allocate half of state lottery profits to educational technology, including new computers for schools in the state. Albuquerque Journal.

New York
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against New York, stating that the new online decency statute is unconstitutional. The law makes it a felony to distribute indecent material to children under 17 over a computer system. Edupage.

North Carolina
The Winston-Salem school board purchased Edulog, a computer program used to divide the district population to integrate students from different social and economic backgrounds. West Virginia Gazette.

North Dakota
A nine-member Technology Task Force was appointed to study the use of technology to improve K-12 education throughout the state. A report will be presented to the state Legislature in 1999.

The Department of Administrative Services contracted with Buford Goff & Associates to evaluate proposals from Ericsson and TRW/Motorola for a statewide radio system to replace the low-band radios used by state police. Dispatch Monthly.

The Edmond City Council contracted with Merrick and Co. to provide computerized mapping services for the city. The Edmond Evening Sun.

The state Lottery reduced its paper load by using LaserFiche's Document Imaging. Records are now scanned and stored.

The Department of Revenue awarded a contract to Unisys Corp. for the automated data entry portion of an imaging and remittance processing system for electronic tax returns.

Rhode Island
Rhode Island is investigating solutions to potential Y2K computer problems which could lead to serious consequences for the state.

South Carolina
The Department of Revenue provides tax forms
on its Web page at .

South Dakota
The Department of Tourism hosted the Governor's Conference on Tourism in Pierre, which featured using the Internet to promote outside interest in the state.

Tennessee received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop One-Stop Career Centers in Knoxville, Nashville, Clarksville and Memphis. Knoxville News Sentinel.

The Commission on Judicial Efficiency released a report titled Governance of the Texas Judiciary: Independence and Accountability that includes plans for a statewide computer communications network and justice information system.

Utah selected Risk Data Corp.'s Claimant Fraud Detection System to red flag questionable Workers' Compensation claims. The system uses neural network technology commonly used for credit card fraud.

The Roxbury Free Library in Northfield gained Internet access thanks to donations made by the Roxbury Discovery Center and TDS Telecom. The library now has e-mail at and will soon have its own Web site. Northfield News.

The Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney's Office plans to upgrade its computer network to allow remote access. Attorneys will be able to work at home or on portable computers.

Seattle is participating in the first nationwide traveler information system, developed by Etak Inc. and Metro Networks Inc. The system will feature realtime reports of regional traffic accidents, traffic speeds, road conditions, construction and weather.

West Virginia
"Technology Advantage" -- a two-year plan to modernize computer technology at colleges and universities funded by the Legislature in March '95 -- may have been shortchanged. State College Board officials now feel the majority of resources went to university research grants instead of new technology programs. West Virginia Gazette.

April 19 is Wiring Day for classrooms in Wisconsin. The event is sponsored by Wiring Wisconsin (WW), a volunteer-based organization of parents, students, teachers and business people. Modeled after the March '96 NetDay in California, WW will install network wiring in all
K-12 schools by the end of the year.

Computer users across the state were able to listen to Gov. Jim Geringer's State of the State speech live on the Internet thanks to Real Audio, a telecommunications company that delivers realtime audio over the Internet.


[ April Table of Contents]