Archive for the ‘Blog Posts’ Category

Delaware’s Primary is September 11. Do You Know Where Your Polling Place Is?

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Polling Places IconMany of Delaware’s registered democratic and republican voters have a primary election to vote in on September 11 and the Commissioner of Elections offers several online resources to help them cast their ballots.

Voters can find their polling places either using a new Delaware Polling Places iPhone app found at apps.delaware.gov or from a web-based polling place locator on the Elections web site.

The iPhone app provides an interactive map that shows more than 270 polling places in Delaware. Users can browse the map of polling place locations to find out more information about any location, such as driving directions, which districts polling place serves, and poll hours. The app was developed for the Elections Commissioner as part of an eGovernment initiative that aims to make government services and information available to Delawareans when and where they need them.

The Elections web site also provides a listing of all candidates running in the primary as well as a variety of voter services, including:

And, when the voting is done on September 11 (at 8:00 p.m.), the Elections site will have the results.

Congratulations, Delaware, It’s a New Portal

Friday, April 27th, 2012

If folks who work in the Government Information Center (GIC) have seemed more than usually crazy the last few weeks, it’s because we’ve been working towards the release of a new version of the state’s web portal, delaware.gov.

delaware.gov screenshot

The new portal has been redesigned to improve citizen access to state government information and services. At GIC, we try to update and refresh the portal every few years to adapt to the changing web environment and to improve on things like accessibility and ease of navigation.

In other words, our constant question is “can we make it better?”

Hopefully, we have. We’ll be poking and prodding the thing for a bit to make sure nothing falls off and there isn’t an unexplained cloud of blue smoke coming out of the tailpipe.

I’m joking of course. The people I work with here at GIC would rather go back to chiseling state information into stone tablets than release something with flaws.

That’s probably why we’ve been a little nuts lately.

A Standard FOIA Form

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The on-line Delaware FOIA FormThere’s now a standardized common FOIA form for citizens to submit Freedom of Information Act requests to Delaware state agencies.

The state’s  Freedom of Information Act (29 Del. Code, Chapter 100) establishes that “it is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner” and that “it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic.”

The Act itself is several decades old and there had grown up a variety of different FOIA request forms and FOIA policies among state agencies, sometimes leading to confusion for citizens.

Senate Bill 87, passed in the 146th General Assembly and signed by Governor Markell on October 20, 2011, requires that a standard form for requests under the Act be made available to the public. Executive Order 31, approved by the Governor on October 20, 2011, requires executive branch agencies to adopt a standardized policy for requests under the Act.

To meet these requirements, GIC staff worked with the Governor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office to create a standard on-line FOIA Request Form that allows citizens to submit information requests to state agencies. A saveable/printable PDF version of the form is available as well. And there is a list of State Agency FOIA Coordinators [pdf].

Governor Markell signed the bill and the Executive Order in a press conference on October 20 in Wilmington, at which he unveiled the new FOIA form.

An Android Version of the Delaware Fresh Smartphone App

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Delaware Fresh in the Android MarketplaceThe Delaware Government Information Center (GIC) has released an Android version of the popular Delaware Fresh smartphone app. The Android version joins an iPhone (iOS) version of the application that was released in July.

Delaware Fresh is a simple app that uses a smartphone’s ability to find its location, and an open database of  Delaware farm stands and farmers’ markets maintained by the Delaware Department of Agriculture, to help consumers find the closest sources of fresh-grown Delaware produce and other agricultural products. A few clicks will bring further details about a farm stand’s offerings, links to websites, directions, and quick-dialing of phone numbers.

Delaware Fresh is one of a growing number of Delaware-specific smartphone apps that allow Delawareans, visitors to the first state, and potential business partners to easily find information about the state, locations in the state and contacts in Delaware.

Is there an app you’d like to see developed for Delaware? Make a note in the comments below or write it up on social media using the tag #de_gov_sm.

Location, Location, Location

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Map and contact information for the Government Information CenterThe GIC has rolled out a new format for office location pages for Department of State web sites and will begin working with other state agencies to offer the same service across the delaware.gov landscape.

The standard Delaware state agency web page design – known as the “common look and feel” – calls for basic contact information and office location information. For years, agencies have taken different approaches to presenting that information. The newly standardized office locations page design includes a map, address and phone number, latitude and longitude, and a QR code to bring information directly to users’ smart phones.

The new location pages are built to draw from a dataset of basic information and can be easily updated without major web-page coding or HTML editing. The Department of State location data, in fact, is now posted as open data – in both XML and GeoRSS formats – on the data.delaware.gov open data portal.

An Open Data Portal for Delaware

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

An example of XML dataWe’ve started an ambitiously named page called data.delaware.gov to hold links to open, machine-readable data sets used in various mobile apps, web page applications and other tools built as part of our mission to help ensure Delawareans “free and equal access to state, local and federal government information and resources.”

The page started as a by-product of our work on the Delaware Fresh iPhone app, which draws on a data file formatted as XML (extensible markup language). A selection from that file — FSData.xml – is at right. There’s no reason not to make available to everyone the data that the Delaware Fresh app draws from. Someone may come up with an even better use for it.

And that thought led us to data sets posted in open formats by other agencies. We’ve posted links to  financial data, demographic data, transit information and other resources.  Our new “Open Data Portal” has only a handful of links, so far. But we’re open to suggestions and will continue to search out data sets that might be of interest or of use to people on-line.

Today, Farmers’ Markets. Tomorrow?

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Delaware Fresh iPhone App IconYour smart phone can now help you make smarter decisions about the food you eat. Delaware’s Department of Agriculture and the GIC have teamed up to create Delaware Fresh, an iPhone app that guides users to the closest Delaware farm market where they will find fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

Delaware Fresh is available from apps.delaware.gov or from Apple’s  iTunes app store. It’s completely free, by the way; one of a handful of Delaware-specific apps developed by the GIC and other state agencies. There will be more such apps in the future, for iPhone and Android and other platforms as we learn about them.

Delaware Fresh zooms in on a user’s location and displays a map of the nearest farm markets. A click brings up information about each farm market. Another click displays directions to any of the markets.

Information about the farm markets will be updated on a regular basis. The types of markets and products available will change with the seasons. The app draws from an openly available XML data file (FSdata.xml) that is available as pure data to those who wish to use it that way. A second XML file (FSMetaData.xml) contains the date of the most recent update.

The list of Delaware apps is going to grow; we’re open to ideas for other applications. What would you like to be able to do on your smart phone? How can we better connect you with Delaware government? As always, please feel free to leave comments below or join the conversation on twitter using #de_gov_sm.

It’s Social Media Day! Are You Connected With Your Government?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

A comprehensive listing of state agency social media offeringsToday, June 30, has been designated as “Social Media Day.” By who? People on social media, apparently. Actually, the celebration is being led by mashable.com, a site that has become a portal for news about social media and a community gathering place for those who use social media. That includes us.

Here at the GIC, we advocate the use of all possible communications tools to ensure that Delawareans have “convenient and comprehensive access to government information.” Seriously, it’s in state law that we have to do this. Luckily, we really enjoy our jobs, particularly when we get to work with you guys to find new ways to increase communication.

Lately, we’ve been working to expand state agency use of various social media tools. Delaware’s government is very active on facebooktwitter, blogs, flickr and youtube. There are long lists of agencies using each of these. We’re very proud of how well Delaware government uses social media.

But we bet we can do more. And you can help. Tell us, via comments here or on twitter (using #de_gov_sm):

  • What existing Delaware government social media channel is most useful to you?
  • What agency do you wish was using social media?
  • What information do you need that is not now available via social media?

We’re always looking for ways to improve Delaware.gov but we can’t (and really shouldn’t) do so without hearing from you.

Delaware’s Library Portal Makes News

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Delaware's Library Portal, www.lib.de.usThe News Journal featured the web portal of the Delaware State Library System this weekend. Saturday’s story, Your library comes home, focuses on how a selection of patrons use the portal’s “Ebrary” of digital publications in their personal and professional lives. It builds from those small portraits to a broad mural of a statewide network of libraries joined together both functionally and in an on-line “meta-library.”

The Delaware Libraries portal, lib.de.us, is the product of a partnership known as “the Delaware Library Catalog Consortium” established to help bring library resources to the people of the First State:

… to provide enhanced access for the residents of Delaware to information through a single online library database. This catalog enables Delaware Library Card holders to use any of the participating libraries. In addition this provides a broader, more extensive collection of materials and resources and economy of scale savings for member libraries. The Delaware Division of Libraries (DDL) in cooperation with Delaware libraries will strive to offer Delaware’s residents access to a full range of information, materials and resources.

The portal includes ways for patrons to manage their relationship with Delaware’s public libraries, information about those libraries, live on-line interaction with librarians, access to the state’s full catalog of physical materials and a growing collection of eBooks (Delaware’s “Ebrary”), and more.

It’s Been a Very Social Year on Delaware.Gov

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Image of the delaware.gov homepageIt was one year ago this week that an updated, social-media focused delaware.gov was rolled out by the Delaware Government Information Center (GIC).

The newly designed state web portal included the usual useful information about what’s special in the First State and how to contact state agencies and find information, along with information targeted to businesses, employees, and citizens at large.

But the new design went a few steps further, incorporating live, continuously updated windows into the social media life of Delaware government. These include streams from facebook,  YouTube, twitter, flickr, and the growing collection of state-government blogs.

For the first time, citizens could come to one place and watch a comprehensive, live view of what their government is doing for them, what events are happening, and what their fellow Delawareans are finding and photographing around the state. Delaware’s portal, often at the forefront of E-Government, was leading the way again.

The newly social delaware.gov debuted into a revolution of social media use by Delaware’s political, social and business leaders – exemplified by the active #netDE community on twitter. The state’s strong support for social media as a tool for communication between citizens and the government that serves them helped boost the state social media growth.

Today, a growing list of state agencies are adopting social media tools and providing information directly to the citizens via twitter, facebook and the like and through the delaware.gov portal.

As we move forward to the next update of the state’s portal, the GIC is reading citizen input on social media with great interest. We’re looking for ideas — how can we serve our clients (family, friends, neighbors) better in the future? What E-Government services would you like to see?

Leave a comment here or spark a discussion in the social media world. We’ll be listening with great interest.