30 Must-Read State and Local IT Blogs 2016
If home is where the heart is, communities, cities, counties and states have similarly figurative connections among their residents and citizens.
Here at StateTech, we cover the challenges and successes that state and local government leaders face in managing and growing their localities. There's a slate of innovative technologies poised to significantly transform the way governments work, such as the Internet of Things and the rise of smart cities. These tech trends provide plenty of fodder for discussion, perspective and analysis, and while StateTech is home to plenty of good content in those areas, there are several notable and quality blogs that should be a must-read for any state or local government leader.
For several years, we've been compiling a list of Must-Read State and Local IT Blogs. You can view our 2015, 2014, and 2013 lists if you're interested in seeing previous honorees.
This year, we're seeing a rise in blogs that touch on smart cities and city revitalization in general. Also, several state IT departments have stepped up to leverage their blogs as engagement and education platforms, especially as they have undergone departmentwide centralization and consolidation efforts.
We hope you enjoy this year's Must-Read list. If you believe we’ve missed a good state IT blog, feel free to leave a comment. And if your blog has been chosen, grab a badge to display to your readers — you earned it!
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Code for America Blog
Civic innovation is at the heart of many cities, counties and states right now. One of the main tools communities are using for reinvention is coding. Code for America, a nonprofit founded and led by former U.S. deputy chief technology officer Jennifer Pahlka, has government innovation at the core of its mission. The organization’s blog, which is hosted on Medium, puts citizens first in its mission statement: Writing and thinking about government that works for people, by people, in the 21st century.
North Carolina’s One IT Blog
Like IT in many states, North Carolina’s IT department has undergone a transformative consolidation and centralization effort and has emerged rechristened as One IT. This blog documents the department’s observations on the shift and the results of the organizational transition.
Mass IT Blog
Up in the northeast, the great state of Massachusetts is busy building a digital government future it can believe in. In an effort to be transparent and collaborative with citizens, the state’s IT department uses the Mass IT blog to convey its vision of how a more digital Massachusetts government can better serve its citizens.
Bringing together city and county leaders from across the globe, the International City/County Management Association’s blog aims to “provide users with new resources and insights on what’s happening in local government.” There’s a focus here on civic engagement, smart cities, mobile applications and more.
Cisco Government Blog
With all of the buzz circling around the Internet of Things and Smart Cities, it makes sense that Cisco Systems, a leading networking technology vendor, would be at the forefront of the reimagination of America’s cities, counties and states. Cisco’s Government blog plays host to the kinds of technologies it’s experimenting with or releasing in IoT, Smart Cities and public safety. If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest IT innovations, Cisco’s blog does a remarkable job of highlighting what’s important and relevant to government leaders.
As more people flock to live in urban environments, cities are challenged with figuring out how to accommodate growth, provide more value and operate more efficiently. Governing’s City Accelerator blog gives an on-the-ground perspective for city leaders about how innovation, technology and ingenuity are leading to great results and opportunities.
Hey, neighbor, do you know the potential hazards of using Pokémon Go? The Minnesota IT department does, and they’ve got a blog post that details what the risks are. While the Minnesota IT team does offer some typical news and events specific to their department, they spend a lot of time on user safety and awareness, offering tips and tricks to navigate applications and tools.
As far as acronyms go, ELGL isn’t quite on the same level as YOLO. But as a professional organization put together for local government leaders, by government leaders, it speaks to certain people. As the organization’s About page explains, the E in the acronym is dynamic. But in the case of its blog, “engaging” seems to make the most sense. If you want to know who the key players in local government innovation are, ELGL is great for putting faces to names.
While people often describe cities as “living and breathing,” who knew they could speak? On the National League of Cities’ blog, CitiesSpeak, leaders at the city level across the country trade perspectives on managing and innovating within their respective hometowns. You can expect to hear about real results from real places in the posts on CitiesSpeak. So bring your eyes (and ears) for this blog.
Lohrmann on Cybersecurity & Infrastructure
Cybersecurity is by far one of the most pressing topics concerning state and local governments today. Many recent surveys have backed this up. Dan Lohrmann of Government Technology lends the subject his focus and expertise on his blog Lohrmann on Cybersecurity & Infrastructure, offering valuable takeaways for state and local leaders.
State and local governments have unique challenges, and Route Fifty, a relatively new media outlet, has emerged to tell those state and local stories. The site offers a great deal of content on all things state and local, but keep your eyes on their Information Technology topic for good reports on what state and local governments should be on the lookout for.
CompTIA’s State and Local Government and Education Council
As one of the technology industry’s leading advocacy organizations, CompTIA carries considerable weight and influence. Its State and Local Government and Education Council takes the prestige and expertise that CompTIA is known for and targets it at the state, local and education audience, providing resources and blog posts on topics and issues relevant to state and local government leaders.
Innovation is at the heart of what Hardik Bhatt is steering the state of Illinois toward these days. He makes appearances at industry conferences, but if you can’t hit the road to see him in person and hear him speak, you should follow his blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse, where he details his vision for digital transformation throughout the state. (Note: You must be a LinkedIn member to view the complete archive of his blog.)
The Texas Record
It’s true: It’s takes a unique kind of person to get excited about records and archives. But at the end of the day, it’s important that someone cares passionately about this stuff because the ability to store, find and retrieve records is a critical component of a functional and accurate digital government. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission gathers all of the chatter on e-records, data management and more on its blog, The Texas Record.
State of Colorado IT Blog
Are you ready to make a difference? The Colorado IT team is. In its mission statement, the group writes: “The Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT) strives to impact the lives of all Coloradans to create a safer, happier and healthier state.” In addition to news and information about how to use technology safely, there’s a noticeable effort by the team to drive up awareness of the good experiences that can be had as a Colorado IT team member. As StateTech has covered in the past, many states are striving to make government IT jobs more appealing to compete with private-sector companies that lure tech talent away.
While Silicon Valley has been the source and focus of many digital dynamo companies such as Facebook and Google, New York City is aggressively and impressively seeking to nurture and establish itself as a technology heartland as well. Digital NYC is a robust news, information and community site that is built on the public-private partnership of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and the New York City Economic Development Corporation and several private-sector companies. If you’re in New York and want to better understand what the local tech community is up to, this is a must-read. And even if you’re not in New York, this is a great tool to stay in the loop on where the Big Apple is headed next.
South Dakota BIT Blog
Home to Mount Rushmore, buffalo and plenty of fresh air, South Dakota boasts another thing that’s refreshing: the state’s IT department. In its blog, the group positions itself as accessible and friendly, and speaks to citizens in a conversational tone. For example, this post that literally shows the softer side of one of the state’s team members, who sews quilts. Given the rep that many in technology have of not being approachable, blogs like this help to ensure that IT is viewed as a collaborator with other agencies.
Urgent Communications’ View from the Top
When trouble hits, getting and sending information is essential to success. Urgent Communications is a media source produced by the International Wireless Communications Expo. The View from the Top blog gathers and shares insights from experts in emergency medical services.
When things get down to the wire and people’s lives are on the line, technology can be a lynchpin to ensuring a happy ending. Emergency services professionals access EMS1 to understand the latest trends and information about their profession, and the site boasts a regularly updated technology section that highlights relevant or emerging technology to help EMS professionals in their everyday jobs.
ITAPS TechWonk Blog
In government, policies matter, and they sometimes make implementing and integrating technology into processes and operations more complicated. The IT Alliance for Public Sector’s TechWonk Blog helps to distill what policy changes mean for state and local governments and explains how to navigate them.
Fresh Ideas in Public Safety
When it comes to public safety, the mission to protect, serve and save citizens from imminent danger hasn’t changed — but the way that police and fire departments and emergency services workers do their work has. Motorola has worked in the space for many years and brings a very specific expertise on public safety technology. Watch this blog to see how one of the leading public safety communications vendors is innovating.
Microsoft on Public Safety
Law enforcement agencies, like the rest of government, are increasingly turning to technology to enhance and improve their tactics and strategies. Microsoft, as a leading technology vendor, has a point of view on how technology can enhance the work that police departments and courts do. The company’s Public Safety and Justice blog highlights issues such as the importance of cloud infrastructure and services in public safety, as well as inspiring ideas such as a patrol car of the future.
Nebraska CIO Blog
CIOs are very busy people. So frankly, when a CIO starts a blog, it’s often a challenge to keep it updated and maintained. But kudos must be given to Nebraska CIO Ed Toner, as he manages to get a blog post up roughly every month or so to touch on changes in the state’s IT department, or to offer a perspective on trends in technology. If you want to understand, firsthand, how a state CIO leads and thinks, Toner’s blog gives you an upfront seat.
Living in a city can be hectic, but managing one is certainly no walk in the park either. Next City, a site published by a nonprofit organization, keeps its finger on the pulse of urban policy and development by maintaining a network of journalists to cover trends and innovations in America’s cities. It includes everything from the big picture (such as how Las Vegas is using artificial intelligence) to the nitty gritty (such as gamifying city budgets).
As one of the leading sources of research and information on state and local government tech, Government Technology’s Digital Communities is an essential read. The blog is home to an annual survey that ranks cities and counties by their level of digital innovation, and in addition to that, there’s plenty of solid, original reporting on what states, counties and cities are doing to help their communities go digital.
Smart Cities Blog
“Smart cities” caught on as a buzzword much like “the cloud” did a few years ago, and now there are countless organizations and events popping up around the smart-city concept. Smart Cities Expo, the entity behind this blog, is one of the larger ones. The organization’s blog tends to be updated leading up to and during one of its events, so it may not make sense as a daily read. But it’s great to keep handy when conferences roll around. The next one is slated for November 14-16, 2017.
The Second City is racing toward first place when it comes to establishing a bedrock of civic innovation. With an eager and talented community of technologists, citizens and government officials, Chicago has a track record for technology experimentation and leadership. Smart Chicago is a public-private organization that aspires to further and foster that work, and its blog plays host to events and happenings in the community’s tech scene.
IBM's Smarter Cities Scan
If you’re looking for something that will truly mix up your dose of smart city news, turn to IBM’s Smarter Cities Scan. The blog is hosted on Tumblr and rather than focusing on crafting original blog posts, the Tumblr smartly curates from a variety of sources on the topic of smart cities, adding interesting visuals and quick-hit pull quotes.
California Department of Technology Tech Blog
As one of the largest states in the country, the breadth and depth of California’s technology operations and team is impressive. Given California’s influence and size as an IT department, it’s worth keeping track of conversations, events and discussions going on in the state. The blog plays hosts to recaps, updates and other information pertinent to the state’s IT operations.
Seattle’s Tech Talk Blog
The Emerald City is known for being of the home of major brands such as Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks, but the city’s IT department has put its focus on civic tech. Its Tech Talk blog curates civic tech news, highlights updates within the department and also celebrates important IT events such as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.