SALT LAKE CITY — Receiving an update on a legislative bill's progress on your Apple Watch or getting the latest scoop on where fish are biting via your Amazon Alexa is just a couple of the tech innovations that helped Utah earn the highest state award from the Center for Digital Government.
Alan Cox, the Sacramento-based center's executive vice president and publisher, said Monday that utah.gov earning the premier award this year wasn't a shocker.
"It was no surprise to any of us at the Center for Digital Government that Utah placed prominently in many categories in this first-ever Government Experience awards," Cox said, "and won our overall state Government Experience Award."
Previously, the Center for Digital Government gave rankings to various government digital services and tools instead of awards, with utah.gov having a long record of earning top marks.
According to Dave Fletcher, chief technology officer with Utah's Department of Technology Services, the state offers more than 1,300 services via utah.gov and is continuing to evolve the digital tools available to residents as new technology comes online, like creating Bill Watch, the new bill tracking app for Apple Watch wearers.
"We adapted our existing mobile bill tracking app for use with the Apple Watch in partnership with the Legislature and Utah Interactive," Fletcher said. "It's our first application designed for a wearable and we're among the first states in the country to do so.
"This, along with working on making our large suite of services work with voice-activated devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa is what our future is looking like," he added.
Gov. Gary Herbert said Utah's continued success in creating digital government services and adopting new tech innovations was not only fiscally prudent but has helped staunch the growth of the state's bureaucracy.
"Research shows us, in fact, that we can save $13 per issue or event by doing it online and using technology versus doing it in person," Herbert said. "It should not be lost on anybody, particularly our taxpayers, that because of the things we’re talking about here today, we actually have fewer state government employees than we had 16 years ago."
Herbert said that while the state has grown by 850,000 residents since 2001, Utah state government employs fewer people than it did in 2002.Comment on this story
He also tied Utah residents' tech savviness with the collective penchant for the arts, noting the Beehive State has the highest rate of home computer ownership per capita as well as the highest number of piano owners, per capita. This duality, Herbert said, was evidence that there's solid groundwork on which a bright future can be built.
"That fact that we have a lot of artistic talent bodes well not only for the arts but science, technology and innovation," Herbert said. "The ability for us, as a state, to be innovative, be creative and find better ways to do things elevates people's lives and makes (their lives) better."
Visit www.utah.gov/index.html for more information on mobile apps, wearable apps and services available via digital home assistants.