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CIO on how to reconstruct the future with emerging technologies

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While the latest breakthrough technologies can become more attractive, state chief information officers should also consider more practical considerations when considering new developments. The final day of the NASCIO Annual Conference live session was attended by former North Carolina CIO moderator Chris Estes, who is currently working at EY, Utah CIO Mike Hussey and Pennsylvania CIO John MacMillan. How will the power of NASCIO and EY, emerging technologies help rebuild your future?

Indeed, a more cautious approach seems to be the wisest for the government. “Not all shiny widgets that come from the front door can always be run,” Hussey said. However, there is a place for innovation in state governments, as evidenced repeatedly over the past few months when CIOs have focused on delivering digital services during a pandemic. And in fact, that’s what the public expects.

To support this, Estes recalled a comment from Rhode Island CIO Bijay Kumar. “If citizens are accustomed to using it, there is no way the government can’t implement new technology.”

Therefore, the key to successful use of new technologies in government is to build appropriate guardrails and ensure that they are used responsibly in a way that creates value. In short, good governance is paramount.

Governance: Utah and Pennsylvania Approach

There are several groups in Utah responsible for assessing the potential and applicability of new technologies to state governments. According to Hussey, the agency review board is made up of staff from different departments and business areas. They provide a specific organizational perspective on how technology is used to solve state business problems. Their work is complemented by an external technical advisory board consisting of external representatives of the state government. Before making an investment decision, Hussey explained that the two groups act as an effective screening mechanism.

Yet another agency involved in the evaluation of emerging technology applications in Utah is the Center for Artificial Intelligence Excellence, founded in 2019. At a recent virtual event, Utah’s Chief Technology Officer, Dave Fletcher, counted about 12 major initiatives currently underway from the center.

MacMillan explained that Pennsylvania began considering best practices for architectural frameworks a few years ago and eventually reached the Commonwealth Innovation Architecture Framework (CIAF). The framework consists of seven models (performance, business, data, applications, technology, security, and digital) that establish standard governance of how states approach the use of new technologies. Useful for. These well-defined parameters focus the state on the right thing.

The panelists agreed with the assessment provided by Stephanie Dedmon, CIO of Tennessee. “Emerging technologies need to add value, solve problems, and make things easier.” MacMillan said the approach in Pennsylvania is to keep technology investments within the context of existing architectures. He added that technology needs to solve business problems. “IT itself is not a business,” he said.

Most Influential Emerging Technologies

In a NASCIO State CIO annual survey released Tuesday, more than half (61%) of respondents said artificial intelligence was the biggest prediction of the most influential new technology in the next three to five years. .. This reaction is not surprising given that the pandemic has prompted the government to move services online quickly. This transition is often supported by chatbots, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA).

According to a new technology survey, top respondents believe that such AI-powered solutions will have the greatest impact, such as chatbots that allow residents to answer questions faster than calling government agencies. , A digital service for citizens. MacMillan said in Pennsylvania that he experimented with the possible interactions of AI and the “intentions” of public questions to get them in the right direction. This is in line with his idea that you can’t throw away a new solution and expect it to work perfectly. “Each of these new technologies requires some kind of care and feeding,” McMillan emphasized.

Survey responses following automation included low-code app development (33%), Internet of Things and connected / autonomous vehicles (tied at 2.3%). The latter is consistent with what Hassy sees coming down the pipeline, pointing to Utah’s smart corridor project and vehicle-to-infrastructure work. “I know it’s a very small part now,” he said, “but surely it’s where you start to see it take off.”

Utah is also exploring new applications for drones to measure air quality at various altitudes, given smoke moving from west to state, and citizens have access to DMVs to transfer ownership. We are considering getting the vehicle title digitally so that we don’t have to. “We are looking at potential solutions on the blockchain,” Hussey said. “There are many opportunities to get excited about new technologies,” he added.

Recruitment barriers

Of course, all the opportunities and excitement about solutions such as chatbots and connected cars do not necessarily mean that there are no challenges in introducing new technologies for the state government. Survey respondents ranked budgets as the most difficult obstacle to getting emerging technology projects on track, and MacMillan said, “All new CIOs rely on budget directors for success in some way. I understand. “

Pennsylvania has a procurement exemption system that was first created in 1929 and built on a state code that has been updated over the years. The value he explained is that the exemption ensures that his IT agency can consider “valid exceptions” when other laws may ban new technologies.

Meanwhile, Utah has an annual innovation fund for innovative ideas, and Hassy said the state can demonstrate that technology solutions have a good return on investment.

In addition to questions about how to fund emerging technologies, survey respondents cited use case coordination, legacy IT systems, lack of required staff skills, and organizational silos as recruitment barriers. And MacMillan believes that there are questions about how increasingly connected lives are regulated.

“This kind of technology must become national technology,” he said, pointing out that it works around self-driving cars in Pennsylvania, and what happens when those cars reach the jurisdiction. I asked if it would happen. “It can’t be the only event in the state. There are many problems to solve on the road to self-driving cars.”

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