A New Meaning to Innovative Thinking

A wise man, Pat McCrory, once said, “interacting with government should be as easy as checking the latest scores on the internet or even shopping online.” McCrory, governor of North Carolina (which happens to be the fourth fastest growing tech state in the country) is making his vision come true.

In GovLoop’s recent State and Local Tech Trends Virtual Training, Keynote: Digital Services Transformation and What’s Next for State and Local Government, Chris Estes, Chief Information Officer for the State of North Carolina, shared how Governor McCrory and his team of public servants transforming the way government delivers services.

There are a few key practices that North Carolina focuses on to drive their digital strategy and services, innovation being one of their most valuable.

Estes credited the State of North Carolina’s success to their working laboratory, called the Innovation Center or iCenter, where state employees can collaborate and solve their biggest challenges. The working laboratory is where state agencies, business partners, educational institutions and citizens can come together to test technology before they buy it. North Carolina has nearly $7.5 million of technology on demo. So, just like you would test-drive a car, state employees are test driving technology to ensure those solutions are beneficial and cost effective.

So far, North Carolina has over 4,500 devices that they have tested and over 48 national members from other state governments. North Carolina has actually been able to extend their innovation center to all states and started a new conversation about innovation in state government. Other state officials will come to the innovation center monthly to share innovative ideas on implementing technology faster.

One of the projects North Carolina started in the innovation center is the Digital Commons Project. This project was dedicated to creating a better customer experience for their website. Now, all the sites are built to be mobile friendly and unified throughout different agency sites.

Planning for their website remodel started with a collaboration between the different agencies. Government officials wrote out everything they wanted customers to experience on each site for each agency. Because the IT team was delayed in updating public information onto the website, the state trained the communications team to code and upload their own information onto the website directly. This allowed for a faster transition from their old website to their new one.

The state also collaborated with residents to help create the site. They brought students from NC State’s design program in to help them build the website in a unique, interactive program.

Not only is North Carolina revamping their website, they are also revolutionizing the their IT, with a strategy called OneIT. The state realized that the way they managed and governed IT was broken. Each agency was working in silos, creating too much duplication of processes and systems. The state has over 1100 agency applications that aren’t designed to work together and over 40 data centers that aren’t connected. OneIT is working to align technology choices and information to save money and better share data.

North Carolina is leading the state government revolution with innovative thinking and team collaboration. To learn more about Estes and the State of North Carolina’s innovation, watch this keynote on-demand here.

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Michael Wayne

Does the iCenter also test or allow government agencies and citizens to interact with wireless sensor technology used in government applications and solutions in agriculture, water and air quality, construction, transportation and food quality prior to buying?