How Utah State Government Uses Wearable Tech

Also, transforming procurement and learning from HIX are topics for NASCIO day two.

Google Glasses
<a href="" target="_blank" > Flickr/Ted Eytan </a>
The 2014 NASCIO Midyear Conference drew to a close Friday. The final day of the event offered lessons learned from the often rocky rollout of state health insurance exchanges and a spirited discussion of procurement reform. In addition, Government Technology got the latest from Utah’s chief technology officer on how the state is approaching app development for wearable technology devices.

GOOGLE GLASS IN UTAH — In an interview during the midyear meeting, Utah CTO Dave Fletcher said the state is gaining valuable experience from its pioneering Google Glass app. The app, launched in February, delivers real-time public transit information to users of the wearable device. Fletcher admits the current user base is small — the device still isn’t broadly available for sale — but he adds that Glass users appreciate the fact that the state is attempting to support them. Just as important, the new app is helping the state figure out what applications will be important as new types of wearable technologies hit the market. 

“We all need to understand the kinds of apps that will make sense in that space,” Fletcher said. “A lot of them are geo-based applications and services. You’re not going to port every app out there to the [Google Glass] interface because it has limitations, but it also has lots of potential for certain types of applications.”

CHANGING THE STATUS QUO ON PROCUREMENT — The troubled launch of and many state-run health insurance exchanges brought the current state of government procurement into the spotlight. “If you spend more than $10 million on an IT project, you have a 6 percent chance of success,” said former presidential innovation fellow Clay Johnson during a panel discussion on lessons learned from deploying the exchanges. Johnson, CEO of the Department of Better Technology, asked why governments keep developing systems this way — why are they making large bets on IT projects that consistently fail? “Part of the reason is as we increase budget size, we decrease our ability to take risks,” he said. In addition, there’s a disconnect between what data governments have versus what the private sector relies on. Johnson recommended three questions to help agencies get a better idea of the current state of IT procurement: How much are we paying for this project? How much is the private sector paying for the same thing? And what are the functions that explain any differences in the price?

KYNECT: A FOUNDATION — Lauded as the most successful of the state health insurance exchanges, Kentucky took a no-frills approach to its system, called Kynect. During a breakout session at the conference, Chris Clark, technology program manager for the Kentucky Office of Administrative and Technology Services, said working on the HIX was “a unique project, unlike any other I have managed before.” He attributed part of the exchange’s success to the state’s “compliancy mentality” regarding federal guidance, and said one of the goals was to be the first state in line to test the system. And this reportedly paid off, with Kentucky testing the HIX for months before the launch date, while some states left themselves only a few weeks to assess their platforms. Kentucky, however, is not resting on its laurels: Kynect is a foundation for the future. Clark said a major new release is coming in June, when the state plans to add other eligibility programs into the HIX. The goal, he said, is to make Kynect a one-stop shop for citizens to determine their eligibility for health-care programs.

Elaine Pittman is the former managing editor of Emergency Management magazine.