National Technology Snapshot

National Technology Snapshot

by / April 16, 2002
Agencies: Alabama Department of Education; Department of Housing and Community Development, Calif.; Department of Technology and Information, and Office of Information Services, Del.; Department of Insurance, Fla.; Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Hawaii; Attorney General's Office, Idaho; Department of Education, Ind.; Ball State University; Department of Public Aid, Ill.; Iowa Public Employees Retirement System; Governmental Ethics Commission, Kan.; St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, La.; Arundel Fire-Rescue, Maine; Department of Education, Md.; Department of Information Technology, Mich.; Department of Transportation, Minn.; St. Paul, Minn.; Secretary of State, Mont.; Columbus Public Schools Board of Education, Neb.; Somersworth, N.H.; New Jersey Office of Information Technology; Office of Science and Technology, Economic Development Department, N.M.; Department of Health, N.Y.; Information Technology Department, N.D.; Department of Education, Ohio; Department of Securities, Okla.; Berks County, Pa.; Attorney General, S.C.; Department of Health, S.D.; Fort Bend County Clerk, Texas; Utah Technology Alliance; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Va.; Governor's Council on Literacy, W.V.; Shorewood, Glendale, Brown Deer, Racine, Waukesha police departments, Wis.; U.S. Department of Energy; Federal Highway Administration

Vendors: Verizon; Central Vermont Public Service; Berks Women in Crisis; Verizon Foundation; Mission West Virginia; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Cole Foundation; Hart InterCivic; Texas Association of Counties; TTLC Internet & IT Solutions; PowerSchool; Connecticut Innovations;

The Alabama Department of Education received a $1.2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide technology training to more than half of Alabama's principals and superintendents. Participants will receive either a laptop or a personal digital assistant for successfully completing the training.

The state's lieutenant governor moderated a privacy summit in September. The summit focused on the conflicts between the public's right to access information, the government's need for information about citizens and businesses and an individual's expectations that personal information will be kept private.

The state unveiled a new Web portal during the summer. Arizona @ Your Service is part of Gov. Jane Dee Hull's e-government initiative, which includes having state agencies incorporate the Web into their strategies for interaction with the public.

Low-income residents needing legal advice will be able to visit kiosks in small Arkansas towns to fax, call and e-mail attorneys for help. A federal grant will establish the virtual law offices, provide a toll-free number for advice and update a Web site. The toll-free number should be operating within eight months; the kiosks should be ready in about a year. - USA Today

The Department of Housing and Community Development expanded its e-government services. The new services offer title-search and escrow-opening capabilities. The Web site will also enable customers to perform title searches on mobile homes, manufactured homes or commercial coaches.

Kindergartners, first and second graders were expected to be able to enroll in the state's first online school for young students and first virtual charter school this fall. The Colorado Virtual Academy will be open to any child in the state in kindergarten through second grade, including home-schooled children who qualify. - Rocky Mountain News

Connecticut's BioBus, a fully equipped, mobile biotechnology laboratory, was set to begin visiting Connecticut's schools and communities in September 2001. This five-year, $3 million project will provide educators with current information and teaching techniques and encourage career exploration through hands-on scientific learning experiences.

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner named Thomas Jarrett CIO for the state's Department of Technology and Information (DTI) and Office of Information Services (OIS) in August. Jarrett will oversee all of the state's information technology needs, as well as the transition from OIS to the new DTI agency. Jarrett previously worked for Verizon Delaware for more than 28 years.

The Department of Insurance is testing a new and faster way for children to sign up for Healthy Kids, a program that offers affordable health insurance to school-age and pre-school-age children in Florida. Under the pilot, parents can sign their children up for Health Kids via an online application available in schools, hospitals and other community settings. The pilot is taking place in six Florida counties.

Spanish speaking families in Georgia are now able to apply for PeachCare for Kids health coverage using the new Spanish version of the PeachCare Web site, which debuted in August. Parents can access PeachCare benefits information, eligibility requirements and a real-time application via the Web site.

The state's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism rolled out a Web site that details the activities of the federal government in the state. The site contains such information as federal spending in Hawaii, federal civilian employment and the number of military personnel and dependents in the state, etc.

The state Attorney General's Office completed improvements to its Consumer Protection Web site in August. The improvements include the ability to file complaints about No Call List violations online; access to a "print and mail" consumer complaint form for filing complaints under the state's Consumer Protection Act; online access to the Idaho Competition Act and the Idaho Rules of Consumer Protection.

Parents who owe more than $5,000 in child support could find their names on the Internet soon. Gov. George Ryan signed a bill in August that allows the Department of Public Aid to publish a "Deadbeats Most Wanted" list in newspapers or online. The department first must contact the parents to warn them of the publication and give them a chance to pay the debt. - Chicago Tribune

The Department of Education and Ball State University will present a series of lessons for mathematics teachers on the new algebra standards for grades four through eight. The lessons will be delivered through the Vision Athena network, operated by the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration and the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System. The network will allow the classes to be transmitted to teachers throughout the state regardless of their location.

The Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) added an online benefit estimator to its Web site. The benefit estimator will allow members and prospective members to estimate their retirement benefits through IPERS and to submit "what if" scenarios to see how various life events will influence retirement benefits.

The Governmental Ethics Commission (GEC) and accessKansas launched a new GEC Web site in August. The site focuses on all aspects of the public's right to information about the financial affairs of Kansas' public officials, lobbyists and candidates for state and local office.

After spending more than $3.5 million on design, the state scrapped a new computer system for vehicle registrations. It would have replaced a 20-year-old system that county clerks use to get vehicle registration and title data from Frankfort. State officials made the decision to scrap the new system because it would have cost up to $12 million per year to operate. - The Courier-Journal

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office announced a program in August that will track registered sex offenders and send e-mails or letters to child-care centers if a convicted pedophile moves within a one-mile radius. - The Times-Picayune

Arundel Fire-Rescue will purchase a $17,000 thermal imaging unit, thanks to a grant by the Cole Foundation. The thermal imager will allow firefighters to see temperature differences in fire situations where they need to locate people in smoke-filled areas or locate hidden hot spots in walls and ceilings during a fire. - The Portland Press Herald

The Department of Education will soon add online learning to its Web site. The site, already in development, will offer in-service training for teachers and courses for students, beginning with advanced placement classes. - Cumberland Times-News

The state's ePayments Shared Service initiative, which will allow departments to incorporate credit cards, debit cards and e-checks into their applications, is moving forward. The first implementation, which will allow the Human Resources Division's Civil Service Testing application to process credit card payments through the Web, was to be completed in October.

Gov. John Engler announced a new Department of Information Technology in August to coordinate all computer, telecommunications and high-tech management for state government. A chief information officer, who has yet to be hired, will head the department of about 1,800 employees.

The Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and St. Paul, Minn., concluded an operational test of an advanced parking-information system in downtown St. Paul. The test evaluated the operation of electronic signs that displayed real-time parking availability during special events. - The Intelligent Transportation Society of America

The Greenwood Voters League got a look at a new touch-screen voting machine in August. Using the TruVote system, voters can see a candidate's name, picture and party, then select the candidate by touching the picture. There is an opportunity to change the selection if needed, and the machine prints out a receipt for each voter. - The Greenwood Commonwealth

Gov. Bob Holden met with technology, business and academia leaders in August to lay the groundwork for a Missouri Information Technology Plan. The group brainstormed how to grow the IT industry in the state and how to best use IT to increase the global competitiveness of Missouri businesses. Ideas from the session will be incorporated into a statewide strategic plan.

The Secretary of State is sponsoring a search service through which anyone can find public information for any company doing business in Montana instantly. The state's Web site will allow citizens to find business information and purchase documents, such as Certificates of Authorization, Existence or Fact, any time.

The Columbus Public Schools' Board of Education voted unanimously in August to spend $100,000 for PowerSchool's Student Information Management System. The Web-based program will allow parents to see information like students' grades, the amount of money in lunch accounts and school announcements.

Students in the Clark County School District now have a way to report guns in schools. A confidential tip line, a joint effort between Las Vegas police, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the district's school police, allows students to remain anonymous when calling in gun sightings. - Las Vegas Review-Journal

New Hampshire
Somersworth has teamed up with TTLC Internet & IT Solutions for broadband Internet access for the city. Municipal departments receive wireless broadband Internet access for free in exchange for permitting TTLC to lease antenna space at the city's Noble Pines Park Water Tower. Officials estimate the city is saving thousands of dollars on the service.

New Jersey
The New Jersey Office of Information Technology announced in August that state lottery retailers now have online access to weekly sales- and business-related content. Once they personalize the state's Web page, registered lottery retailers, chain store managers and lottery employees can access links to online sales and invoice records.

New Mexico
The Office of Science and Technology, a division of the Economic Development Department, will offer two free seminars on technology tax credits, incentives and job-training programs to the technology industry in the state. State officials said the seminars will help companies realize what the state is doing to stimulate growth.

New York
The Department of Health (DOH) has launched the Center for Consumer Health Care Information Web site, which can be accessed via the DOH's Web page. The site offers information on physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care providers throughout the state, including hospital- and nursing-home-inspection surveys and a listing of providers banned from participating in the Medicaid program.

North Carolina
Camera crews atop freeway bridges photographed license tags of some 400,000 vehicles during the summer as part of a study of travel in the Carolinas. Using 43 video cameras in seven counties, researchers tracked every car that passed on U.S. 74 and Interstates 77 and 85. The goal was to analyze freeway travel and predict air pollution and highway needs. - USA Today

North Dakota
Gov. John Hoeven recently named the final appointments to the state's Information Technology Advisory Committee, which was approved by the 2001 Legislature. The 14-member committee will advise the IT Department regarding statewide information technology planning. The state's CIO will chair the advisory committee.

The Department of Education officially released the first version of its new Web environment in August. The new site employs a customer-centric navigation approach and more interactive functionality while improving accessibility for the visually impaired.

The Department of Securities created a worksheet on its Web site to help residents invest in certificates of deposit. The worksheet consists of 13 questions designed to help investors distinguish between traditional bank-issued CDs and callable CDs. According to department officials, many investors do not realize that with callable CDs only the issuer, not the investor, can "call" or redeem the CD.

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed legislation in August designed to enhance the state's medical and technology research sectors. The bills range from technology transfer policy to biomedical research funding. S.B. 101 creates the Higher Education Tech Transfer Fund, which will use declared earnings from the Oregon Growth Account to help technology-transfer offices bring academic discoveries into useful commercial application.

Berks Women in Crisis, a domestic-violence advocacy and education group based in Berks County, Pa., has launched a Web site to collect information on domestic violence. The group said its Web site will serve as a clearinghouse for data from local agencies, advocacy groups, police departments and individuals. - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Rhode Island
The state judiciary announced that CourtConnect was expected to go online at the end of August. CourtConnect will provide online access to public records contained in the court's criminal database. Officials said they hope that CourtConnect will enhance access to public information and reduce unnecessary foot traffic in court clerks' offices.

South Carolina
The state's attorney general ruled in August that the new Internet Filter law enacted during the state's last legislative session is binding on all public libraries. Libraries must place Internet filters on computers offered to the public and students in order to screen out pornography. A library's failure to use Internet filters will result in loss of one-half of that library's state funds. Forfeited funds will then be distributed among those libraries that are in compliance with the Internet filter requirement.

South Dakota
The state has received a $605,000 federal grant -- the latest in a string of grants sought by the Department of Health to strengthen rural hospitals. The funds will help develop telemedicine networks.

Tennessee Anytime added a service that allows medical providers to check online for patient eligibility for TennCare, the state's managed-care health program. In August, 38 percent of the eligibility requests received by TennCare came from the online service, which is expected to help accelerate the delivery of medical care to TennCare members and decrease administrative costs for doctors and hospitals.

The Texas Association of Counties honored the Fort Bend County Clerk's Office for its document imaging and management system. The system, developed and installed by Hart InterCivic, indexes, records and archives documents and provides payment receipts for real property records, plats, vital records, county courts-at-law and commissioners' court records.

The Utah Technology Alliance launched an ad campaign in August to entice high-tech firms to the state. The ads will run in Silicon Valley regional publications and national magazines. - The Salt Lake Tribune

Seven police and sheriff's departments received new electronic fingerprinting machines to help modernize the way fingerprints are taken and recorded in the state. The live scan takes an electronic picture of a person's fingerprints, then ships them off to a computer database in Waterbury, which records the prints and can search a person's criminal history in minutes. - The Rutland Herald

Virginia Tech is helping the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a $85.7 million clean-energy science and technology initiative. The university received $2 million grant over two years for research to develop the next generation of polymer electrolyte membranes, membrane electrode assemblies and related fuel-cell material systems.

Residents with questions about the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) can visit the "Ask the HIPAA Hippo" Web page. The HIPAA Hippo is a new feature from the Washington HIPAA Project Web page that assesses the changes that will be required under HIPAA. The page is sponsored by the Department of Social and Health Services, the departments of Health, Labor and Industries, and others.

West Virginia
Gov. Bob Wise announced in August that the Verizon Foundation gave a $50,000 grant to the Governor's Council on Literacy. The funds will be used to buy computers and software for agencies throughout the state to assist them with tutoring programs. Six literacy programs will also receive refurbished computers through a collaborative effort between the Governor's Council on Literacy and Mission West Virginia.

Automated telephone voice-mail systems are helping alert residents of the state on subjects ranging from crime trends to emergency road conditions. Police departments in Shorewood, Glendale, Brown Deer, Racine and Waukesha use the automated program to leave hundreds of messages an hour with area residents. - USA Today

State Elections Director Peggy Nighswonger was one of 37 people chosen this year by the National Election Center to serve on the National Election Reform Task Force. The Task Force analyzed problems in the 2000 Election and recommended actions Congress and state legislatures should take to improve the election process.