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On the Frontlines of Government’s Technological Transformation

In 1975 we saw the invention of the personal computer. In 2002 the first wave of smartphones hit the market. In 2008 the federal government considered cloud computing for the first time.

James Sills has been witness to it all. And for the past five years, Sills has been the chief information officer for the state of Delaware, laying witness to a technological transformation.

Sills sat down with me for GovLoop’s State and Local spotlight interview to talk about how technology is changing the face of government.

One of the biggest evolutions Sills has witnessed in Delaware thus far? The reliance on data – and the use of the cloud. “It’s easier to aggregate data now than it has been over the last 4 or 5 years,” Sills said. “There are much better tools that are able to move the data to the cloud. The cloud gives you another platform to manipulate data even faster, so you don’t have to worry about setting up huge datasets, servers and databases. You can easily move data to another infrastructure.”

Another trend he’s been witness to is the creation of something called fusion centers. Fusion centers are information sharing centers, many of which were jointly created between 2003 and 2007 under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice.

“At fusion centers IT staffs are using technology to connect the bad guys with other crimes that are being committed either locally or at the state level,” said Sills. “They’re awesome.”

And it’s not just the fusion centers that are using tech to track crooks – the entire criminal justice field is taking advantage. “Technology has evolved; now cyber detectives are able to zero in on crook’s email traffic, social media, cellphone usage,” Sills said. “They’re able to kinda have this enterprise view of that bad guy from all different kinds of data sources.”

As for the work his own team has done, Sills said they’ve accomplished a lot over the last five years. “We’ve implemented an ERP system; we’ve implemented over 60 different cloud applications. We have one of the highest percentages of virtualization of any state. We have about 85% of all of our physical servers virtualized.”

Sill was also recently appointed to the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative Advisory Committee as the National Association of State CIO’s representative. The Sharing Initiative Advisory Committee is a collection of 30 different associations that provides technical support, insights and best practices from a technology perspective.

“Since we’re technologists, we’re really going to be advising the committee on cloud, procurement, information sharing, business intelligence, mobile, social media, just some a the different technologies that are evolving,” said Sills.

It has been a busy few years for Sills, but if one thing is certain, his desire to be on top of the best and latest technology will keep him a step above the rest.

If you enjoyed our GovLoop’s State and Local Spotlight interview, you can find more interviews under keyword “Emily’s Corner.”

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