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State CIO: Gov Tech at ‘Forefront of Identifying and Building Solutions’

Chief Information Officer Liana Bailey-Crimmins, who is also director of the California Department of Technology, updated IT officials on several initiatives at the California Digital Government Summit.

California’s Chief Information Officer Liana Bailey-Crimmins, who is also the director of the California Department of Technology, speaks at the California Digital Government Summit in Sacramento.
Theo Douglas/Industry Insider — California
Technologists are making key progress in driving digital solutions to some of the state’s most vital issues, California’s chief information officer told more than 100 top IT officials Thursday.

The state is marking real milestones in its work to improve the lives of its roughly 40 million residents, state Chief Information Officer Liana Bailey-Crimmins, who is also director of the California Department of Technology, said during opening remarks at the California Digital Government Summit* in Sacramento, which was attended by more than 300 public-sector IT leaders and staff as well as many from the tech industry. Among the takeaways:

  • Action is near on statewide broadband. California committed $6 billion in a multiyear investment starting last year and aimed at closing the state’s digital divide. Broadband for All is the initiative that will help accomplish that, Bailey-Crimmins said, noting: “We are in the planning phase, so hopefully, going into construction and we’re going to be putting thousands of miles of middle-mile fiber-optic cable up and down the state.” The first project, the state CIO said, kicks off in Poway, in San Diego County, in “just a few weeks. But we cannot overlook why we’re doing it. It is because of the people. The state has adopted a human-centric design concept that permeates across all aspects of technology and broadband is no exception.” Middle-mile fiber optics, Bailey-Crimmins added, will be vital to connecting communities like the City Heights area of central San Diego. That’s where, the CIO said, Tom Bui, economic development program coordinator at the City Heights Community Foundation, told the state that residents without Wi-Fi have had to rely on local businesses and fast food restaurants for Internet access.
    “The middle-mile effort will promote increased access; it will be life-changing for Tom, the community he serves and, obviously, all Californians. But broadband isn’t the only challenge that we face and that needs digital government solutions,” Bailey-Crimmins said.
  • Technology work played a crucial role during the recent heatwave. Heatwaves disproportionately affect the state’s most vulnerable residents, Bailey-Crimmins said. During the early September record-breaking temperatures, officials activated the state’s extreme heat action plan, which included “developing a centralized website” in partnership with state emergency leaders, to provide information on cooling centers statewide. SMS text alerts from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services calling on residents to conserve electricity yielded real-time results officials saw unfold before their eyes.
    “We literally were watching it minute by minute and during that window, we saw a 20 percent reduction in megawatt usage, which really protects the state,” Bailey-Crimmins said. “And because the government technologists were able to provide actionable information in a central location, that mitigated the severity of the situation.”
  • A new state system is making a difference on homelessness. California last year committed $12 billion over two years to begin resolving homelessness. To guide that work, technologists went live with the Homeless Data Integration System, California’s first unified warehouse for homelessness data. Its dashboard, Bailey-Crimmins said, offers a “dynamic snapshot of the homeless population” that’s searchable by county — enabling visibility on services, progress and “challenges related to inequities.”
    “California government technology is at the forefront of identifying and building solutions,” the state CIO told audience members. “Each of you plays a pivotal role in the state’s comprehensive strategy, with a goal of getting more Californians in stable living environments and connecting them with vital public services.”

*The California Digital Government Summit is hosted by Government Technology magazine, a publication of e.Republic, which also produces Industry Insider — California.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.