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Kansas' Digital Services Platform iKan Pushes New Governor’s Focus on Tech

The platform enables users to renew vehicle registration online, and future plans call for expanding its functionality to include more areas of government service.

Kansas residents are now able to renew vehicle registration with their mobile phones thanks to iKan, a digital services platform launched by the state last month.

While early functionality is mostly oriented toward services provided by the Division of Vehicles, the platform is built to allow users to interact with multiple state services in a centralized location, one they can access through smartphones, tablets and computers. Rachel Whitten, director of public relations for the Kansas Department of Revenue, said work is already underway to add more services.

“This app is not just for vehicle registrations — it is right now — but in the future there are going to be many services people are able to use or get access to via this iKan app,” Whitten said. “We’re working on providing access to vital records and other things that are coming down the pipe.”

This marks some of the most tangible public-facing tech progress for Kansas in some time, and Whitten said that was no coincidence, noting that when Gov. Jeff Colyer took office earlier this year, he brought with him an increased focus on improving the state’s gov tech. Whitten said a little-known fact about Kansas is that it was the first state to adopt a digital government platform more than 25 years ago, and Gov. Colyer’s intention is to return to pushing better utilization of technology across the state.

The iKan platform also puts Kansas among a growing number of states that are working to consolidate the disparate services provided by many public agencies into a single online platform. The end goal for these states is for users to have a quick, focused experience akin to what they get from private online companies like Amazon. Providing such service also has the added benefit of freeing up government workers to focus more on other tasks, or on helping the Kansans who still prefer to come to government buildings and do their business in person.

John Thompson, founder and CEO of the Kansas City, Mo., company PayIt, which helped create the iKan platform, said it was designed to provide a more personalized interaction with government services, one that aimed to channel users to the services they need most. The platform can also send alerts to residents when they are approaching renewal deadlines. Thompson said the vital records component will likely be rolled out in May.

Some users of the new Kansas platform have pointed out that it can be used to enter random PINs to access license plate information. Officials said there is no information available through doing this that isn’t already open record. Whitten said the state conducted an internal review to ensure that iKan is as secure as it can be.

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.