The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

Mar 25 2019

Innovate Ohio Looks to Modernize Public Services

The new organization in the Buckeye State, led by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, aims to improve data sharing and the use of blockchain, among other initiatives.

Ohio is a state steeped in history and is the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents. However, newly elected Gov. Mike DeWine wants to bring state government into the future — or at least the modern day. 

One of DeWine’s new initiatives, which he promoted last year on the campaign trail, is called Innovate Ohio, an effort designed to modernize state services. While the program is still being developed, early indications are that it will focus on using data to transform state services and will look to incorporate blockchain technology. The effort is being led by Lt. Gov Jon Husted, who previously served as secretary of state. 

“Jon is doing transformational things for our state through Innovate Ohio, whose mission is to look at every state service through the eyes of our customers — Ohio citizens and our job creators,” DeWine said earlier this month in his State of the State address. 

“Innovate Ohio will take a leading role in technology projects across the state,” DeWine added. “It will coordinate projects across our administration to use data to change the way we solve problems. Already, Innovate Ohio is working to better collect and use data across agencies in important areas involving the opioid crisis, workforce development, and children’s initiatives.”

MORE FROM STATETECH: Find out how different states are going on a smart state journey. 

Ohio Wants to Streamline Service Delivery

In January, Husted was still working to define the new office’s responsibilities, but he had already identified a few areas of interest. 

As StateScoop reports, those included “training programs for industrial workers to learn robotics, getting more state agencies to share their data with each other and incorporating blockchain technology into government functions.”

“At the global level, it is using technology on how government serves people,” Husted said, according to StateScoop. “We want to make government more customer-service friendly, improve outcomes and save money, use data analytics and determine what things work best. But to do it, particularly for a midwestern state, we have to be attractive to talent and become a more innovative state.”

When DeWine proposed the idea of Innovate Ohio last year, he laid out numerous objectives for the program. A key one is to create the SmartOhio Operating System, which requires state departments to use data sharing tools “to improve the efficiency of services across state government and give the capacity to provide for predictive analytics to solve problems before they occur.”

Ohio also wants to explore using predictive analytics for healthcare data, including Medicaid data, “as a way to improve health and wellness and allowing customers to compare prescription drug prices so they can get the best deal.”

DeWine also wants to create a public-private partnership to allow the private sector to “bring data sharing solutions they create into government to improve the way public services are delivered.” The goal is to “attract innovative ideas, new investment, create jobs, and support the Ohio businesses of the future.”

Another proposal involves accelerating the push from paper to digital records by using blockchain technology to “create secure digital records and improve convenience.” This would cover documents such as car titles, proof of insurance, vehicle recall notices and license plates.

Innovate Ohio also will create an advisory council of Ohio business and technology leaders to offer ideas on how the administration can improve customer service. 

Other ideas include efforts to modernize technology in K–12 classrooms, make Ohio a leader in computer science and coding, design a matchmaking application that connects people seeking work to businesses that are hiring, and expand broadband infrastructure across Ohio to make the state a leader in mobile edge technologies.

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