Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Insights from Julia Richman - OIT's new Chief Strategy Officer

We’re living in some unusual times. Anyone who watched The Walking Dead went through a period of wondering what it would be like to survive isolated on one’s own. While I never did anything about my own ponderings at the time, my husband and I recently went through some planning to think through what we might need at home in the case of social distancing. I’m now left wondering what we’re going to do with all the Eggos and ramen packs he bought once we’re able to commune together again. Especially since the grocery stores have remained open! There are parts of this present crisis that bring me back to past work in emergency planning and response. While very painful at the time, it is instructive to me now.

Shovel Ready. After the market crashed in 2008 and the fed signaled a stimulus package was on its way, I worked with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts helping the state prepare for the receipt of those federal dollars. The state had stood up about a dozen task forces with more than 100 people from different levels of government to think through its emergency response. Anyone working in government during that time may remember how “shovel ready projects” were the name of the game. What we learned was, not much was shovel ready for any department, in any state. Then most of the funding ended up following standard federal funding channels instead of going to discrete projects. We had built a model for preparedness for something that didn’t come to pass.

Emergency Preparedness. I finished that project and began working to help create the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, which was a new agency coming into existence in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I worked in a shopping mall that had been destroyed by the hurricanes. It had visible water damage up to eye level. It looked like the old Cinderella City mall had married a tsunami. My team of developers worked from indoor aluminum picnic tables for months. 

Resilience. I joined the City of Boulder in 2017, three years after the catastrophic flooding occurred from what amounted to the average annual amount of rain falling in the course of five days. As a result of the lessons learned during this event, we undertook both emergency preparedness activities at the city and, as CIO, I also pushed a lot of initiatives that would enable a resilient, redundant, and mobile workforce, recognizing that disruption is likely the new normal. During my time, we piloted remote city council meetings, moved away from a license based VPN approach to a different set of tools that enabled everyone in the city to securely connect from anywhere, we embarked on DR in the cloud, got off of on premise individual file servers, and were in the process of migrating shared file storage to the cloud when I left. We invested in collaboration software to allow for teaming, anywhere, any time. 

Now that we’re working through many of these challenges in the state, I’m proud to think of how resilient those efforts have made those organizations and how we can do the same for the state. I keep thinking about the lessons I can take from those experiences into this current emergency; other than confidence in knowing that it will eventually end. Here’s what I’ve got to offer:
  1. Never waste a crisis—Change can actually be easier in times of disruption. Use this time to push more heavily on existing critical investments in cloud, collaboration, and redundancy tools.
  2. Teamwork is everything—Did you know you’re more likely to survive a disaster if you know your neighbor? I like to think that anyone can be our neighbor and that even in social distancing, staying connected to one another will help us work through any obstacle. 
  3. Work can get done under any conditions—You may feel scattered working from home at the kitchen table for days on end, but you may also be surprised at how productive you can actually be taking more small breaks for things like sick kids or making lunches, rather than staring endlessly at your computer screen. 
  4. Learn from everything—Even as emails and deadlines are flying, the pressure cooker we’re in right now can be really informative as to future shocks and stresses on our systems, tools, and teams. Take some time to jot down your observations, opportunities for improvement, and new ideas that come from these challenges. You might not be able to take action yet, but eventually you will! 
I’m so proud to be part of OIT and while my time has started off with government imposed social distancing, I already feel close to my OIT colleagues.

Today's blog comes from OIT Chief Strategy Officer Julia Richman

Friday, March 20, 2020

CIO Theresa Talks: You can overcome fear

“...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,”
said Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1933 inaugural address. 

These are challenging times in Colorado and around the world with the onset of COVID-19. The degree of uncertainty that exists can understandably breed anxiety, and messages that intend to inform and help can make people more afraid. However, w
e can and will get through this together! 

In my research study about factors that help and hurt in successfully pursuing a passionate purpose, I asked people what holds them back and what encourages them in their pursuit. One of the biggest hindrances is FEAR. Fear causes self-doubt, anxiety, and anger; fear is a heavy burden. What would your life be like right now if you could cast out that fear?

Sometimes fear can help you to take action and avoid danger. For example during the COVID-19 pandemic that means enacting social distancing, practicing self-isolation, and thoroughly washing your hands. It can stop you from crossing a dangerous road or from getting hurt. However, so often fear is NOT rational. It can turn into obsessiveness - thinking about something over and over until you are immobilized and cannot take needed action. Fear can block effective movement.

Once you are aware of the potential negative impacts of fear, the next step is to take appropriate action. Use the “Pack Strategy” to unpack hindrances and pack energizers for your journey.

Here are some practical pointers:
  1. Lead. Take positive action, be calm, and be strong. Often this means focusing less on yourself and more on helping others. Work on being fearless.
  2. Select. Get in touch with what triggers you and be selective in what and who you listen, watch, surf, invest time in, and talk with.
  3. Use good judgment. Determine whether your fear is rational or irrational. If irrational, force yourself to quiet your mind and focus on positive aspects of life. When there is real danger, your body reflexively mobilizes to avoid it, minimize it, or fight through it.
  4. Be optimistic. Carry a hopeful, upbeat disposition and believe that good prevails. Repeat positive affirmations. Think of the good work being done by so many government employees, medical personnel, public health workers, non-profits, and businesses to proactively address the current challenges and ensure your safety.
  5. Surround. Circle yourself with less fearful people. Surround yourself with people who are not afraid. A recent research study showed that happiness is contagious. If you are around happy people, you will be more happy. If you are around fearful people, you will be more fearful. So find happy, kind, unafraid people with whom to associate.
We human beings are strong and resilient, perhaps stronger than we even know. Unpack fear itself from your life. Strive to appropriate action, be aware of fear triggers, use good judgment, stay positive, and surround yourself with unafraid people.

Friday, February 28, 2020

"B is for Bufficorn": State of Colorado Shines at ETHDenver

Governor Polis reads "B is for Bufficorn" at ETHDenver 2020

Earlier this month I was afforded a unique opportunity to attend the second largest blockchain event in the world along with several OIT team members. The ETHDenver #BUIDLathon + Community Gathering - held February 14-16 at Sports Castle - was free to “developers, technologists, cypherpunks, coders, crypto-economists, designers…” and anyone like me who was curious to learn more about blockchain innovation.

It was an experience to remember! I mean, where else can you purchase lunch from a food truck with xDAI (a form of cryptocurrency), or see Governor Jared Polis and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon read “B is for Bufficorn” to a dozen kids in attendance? 

All joking aside, I want to express the overwhelming amount of pride I felt when our Governor, and OIT’s own Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Solution Architect Thad Batt and Digital Transformation Director Russell Castagnaro, took the stage to represent the State of Colorado and the important work we are doing to lead the way in emerging technologies such as blockchain. Bravo! 

Our blockchain experts exercised great ingenuity to create an Advance Colorado track, attracting some of the greatest minds from around the globe to identify real-world blockchain solutions that OIT might use for professional licensing at Department of Regulatory Agencies, hemp regulatory compliance at the Department of Agriculture, and a messaging system in myColorado. In total, ten fantastic use cases were submitted through the Advance Colorado track - five of which received awards. 

We at the Governor’s Office of Information Technology are so lucky to live and work in a thriving hub of blockchain innovation!

Today's blog comes from OIT Chief Communications Officer Brandi Wildfang Simmons

Friday, January 31, 2020

Six Wins for Your Agency

So yes, the Super Bowl may be on many people’s brains right now. But we had something else in mind that, like the big game, ends in a major win! If you are looking for a solution to easily manage your information and improve business processes, take a few minutes to read up about OnBase by Hyland.

OnBase is a configurable enterprise content application that is already helping many state agencies go the distance in areas such as contract and vendor management, human resources, accounting, permitting and inspections, and more. OnBase has six wins that can help your agency score a goal:
  1. Easily capture documents and data
  2. Manage information in one system
  3. Access your content from anywhere
  4. Integrate with other applications
  5. Measure processes
  6. Protect and retain content
Capturing Data and Documents

Tired of manual data entry and indexing? Then an application developed by our team may be the solution for you. OnBase has easy options for capturing data and documents, and storing the information. Whether you want to scan paper documents or capture and extract indexing information from electronic forms, emails, faxes, or secure file transfers OnBase has you covered.

Manage Information in One System

Does your team want important information in one, easy to manage application? We at OIT will work with you to develop an agency-specific solution that will allow you to manage documents, processes,and data all in one easy-to-use solution. Score!

Access Content from Anywhere

OnBase gives you the ability to access, upload, create, and edit information even when you are offline. Easy to use layouts provide the ability to quickly and easily find information whenever and wherever you need it. Quickly share information with users outside your agency and allow them to complete forms and track the progress of their submissions.

Integrate OnBase with Systems You Already Use

Your team already uses different applications to collect information and documents. OnBase can push and pull data and documents from your existing business applications to your new solution with ease. That’s what we call a touchdown!

Measure Performance and Processes

Quickly and easily track the progress of documents and information as they flow through your agency’s processes. You can create dashboards, run reports, and review documents for missing information. OnBase provides real-time insight into your agency’s process, helping to make smarter business decisions.

Store and Purge Content

OnBase provides complete control to securely store, protect and destroy records. Your solution can be configured to follow your agency's retention schedules to reduce risks and liability. Secure cloud storage ensures you will always have access to your documents and data. 

Are you ready to work with Team OIT to develop your OnBase Solution? Request a quote or a demo today!

Today's Blog comes from the Enterprise Content Services team