Three state leaders will be honored Tuesday, Sept. 28, with the first-ever State Technology Innovator Awards by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) for advancing their states’ technology policy agenda.

At the NASCIO 2010 Annual Conference in Miami, the following will be honored during a ceremony:

  • Sen. David Y. Ige of Hawaii;
  • Chris Johnson, vice president of the Geospatial Training and Application Center at Alabama’s U.S. Space and Rocket Center; and
  • Eric Swanson, director of Michigan’s Center for Shared Solutions and Technology Partnerships.

David Ige Hawaii SenatorSen. David Y. Ige is Hawaii’s first Senate technology leader and has spent the last 25 years blending his service as a Hawaii state legislator with his career as an engineer and IT professional to advance the state’s technology policy agenda, according to a NASCIO press release (http://www.nascio.org/awards/sti/). He was instrumental early in his public service career in creating the Hawaii Information Network Corp. as the statewide entity responsible for the development of IT infrastructure and industry expansion.

As the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Education in the early ’90s, Ige advocated for equal access to IT in the statewide school system. Upon becoming chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Ige also focused on ensuring that technology was used to advance health programs, supporting telehealth initiatives in rural communities, and enhanced wireless 911 services throughout state. 

“Sen. David Ige has been a leader in shaping technology policy in the Hawaii Legislature since he was first elected in 1986,” Hawaii State Sen. Carol Fukunaga said in the release. “In his role as Senate technology leader, David brought his technology background along with a willingness to pursue out-of-the-box solutions in spearheading the implementation of our Senate-wide paperless system.”


Chris Johnson, vice president of the Geospatial Training and Application Center at Alabama’s U.S. Space and Rocket Center, was one of the first promoters of visualization technology in the nation. She developed and implemented Virtual Alabama, the concept for a common operating map that provides situational awareness to a diverse group of users. The system currently enables more than 6,500 government officials in every Alabama county, encompassing 1,450 agencies, to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

Johnson’s leadership as program manager — from the initial operating stage in 2006, to program sustainment, to future development — is the key factor in the Virtual Alabama success story. From the initial discussions, she developed a business model that empowers each government agency to control the use and release of its data and as a result, government officials are now sharing imagery data that’s valued in excess of $40 million.

She also led the installation of the Alabama’s Continuously Operating Reference Stations project. Johnson was nominated by her peers to be chairwoman of the Alabama GIS Advisory Committee and in that capacity, has worked to build a consortium of stakeholders who will collaborate at federal, state and local government levels to acquire remote sensing data through a united aerial photography plan. She also authored the Alabama State Fly Plan, which provides a logical course for acquiring imagery data for the entire state, eliminating duplication of efforts and saving money through economies of scale.

“I can think of no one who deserves this recognition more. Chris Johnson is truly a great asset for this organization and for all the people of Alabama,” said U.S. Space and Rocket Center CEO Larry Capps in the release. “She is a visionary leader and a practical manager who possesses impeccable ethics, excellent communication skills and technical capability.”


Eric Swanson, director of Michigan’s Center for Shared Solutions and Technology Partnerships, has used innovative technology to infuse an entrepreneurial spirit within the center and to drive shared services. Launched in 2008, the center delivers technology solutions and supplies support to Michigan’s state government, providing leaders and subject-matter experts to develop solutions and generate partnerships across state government and beyond.

Swanson, who was recently named the state’s chief data officer, played a critical role in establishing an enterprise-level information management approach, coordinating and consolidating business intelligence, data transport, query reporting and related tools as well as addressing quality assurance. Additionally Swanson has integrated the state’s GIS, advancing it to the forefront of IT initiatives for influencing public policy.

As coordinator of Michigan’s economic Recovery Act for IT-related projects, Swanson leads the state’s efforts to obtain American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for a statewide broadband superhighway.

“Eric has been an innovative leader within our department and across state government for years,” said Michigan CIO Ken Theis in the release. “As the director of the Center for Shared Solutions and Technology Partnerships, he has taken that innovation across traditional boundaries by working closely with local governments, forging shared solutions and services with local partners that bring greater efficiency for taxpayers across Michigan.”