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Michigan, Ohio lead nation in new ‘Digital States Survey’

by Tim Anderson ~ October 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Michigan and Ohio have been recognized as national leaders in how they employ technology to improve state government operations and services. Released in September, the biennial “Digital States Survey 2016” graded all 50 states on criteria that ranged from cost savings to improved service delivery.

In May 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM) asking for comments on the “potential application of technical requirements” to make state and local government websites accessible per title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

DOJ’s current regulations do not include specific requirements for web accessibility but DOJ has long held the position that title II covers public entities’ web sites. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week issued long-awaited guidance delineating responsibilities of the federal and state governments when it comes to policies to pave the way for self-driving cars. This came as the Obama administration signaled that while strong safety oversight will be a hallmark of policies governing testing and deployment, the federal government will encourage innovation in the industry in recognition of the vehicles’ potential to save time, money and lives. Response to the guidance appeared to be largely positive and with the ink not even dry on the document, a number of states appeared poised to move quickly on new autonomous vehicle legislation in the days and months ahead.

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Using a site where B-24 bombers were made during World War II in a factory built by Henry Ford, Michigan hopes to build on its heritage as a hub of automotive manufacturing and innovation and become the world’s leader in autonomous vehicle technology.
In July, citing the creation of more and better jobs in the state’s thriving automotive industry, Gov. Rick Snyder announced the approval of $17 million in startup funds for the creation of the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti.

While technology has been a key component of medicine in the modern era, healthcare is moving towards more personalized treatments that are based on enormous amounts of data that are collected and managed in complex computer systems. Will equitable access to healthcare in the future mean not just access to medical professionals, but also access to these promising technologies that can aggregate information from multiple sources, and provide support for treatment planning?

Smartphones and digital devices are no longer just for entertainment or work. Hospitals and doctors’ offices are experimenting with how “smart” devices can support health. How prevalent is broadband access across the states? What is the prevalence of smartphones and wearables like FitBit to log data? To what degree do patients interact with their healthcare providers through technology today?

The dog days of summer at the end of August aren’t typically known for the level of activity in state capitals. But a couple of legislative hearings held this week in Texas and Michigan could have fairly significant implications for the future of transportation not just in those states but around the country.

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Law enforcement in Illinois has new guidelines to follow when it uses so-called “stingray devices,” which help track criminal suspects and enable the collection of information from their phone calls and text messages. These devices trick phones in a particular area into thinking they are connecting to a cell phone tower operated by a service provider. As a result, they can be a powerful tool in helping police nab suspects. But at the same time, these cell phone simulators are collecting information from the phones of innocent people who happen to be in the same area.

During a recent webcast presented by The Council of State Governments in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, experts discussed vehicle telematics technology and its impact on the insurance industry.

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A fiber optic connection is considered the “gold standard” for quality, high-speed Internet access, and in the Midwest, it’s in pretty short supply.
Except in North Dakota.
In the region’s most sparsely populated state, 60 percent of the households, including those on farms in far-flung areas, have fiber. (That compares to 24 percent in the Midwest, where most of the existing fiber networks serve urban areas.) In all, North Dakota ranks fifth in the nation in fiber access.This is amazing enough, considering many of the obstacles typically cited as responsible for the dearth of high-speed technologies in rural parts of the Midwest — for example, the high costs of serving low-density areas.
But the story of North Dakota’s prominence in fiber access is also a testament to entrepreneurship in the nation’s heartland, and perhaps a model for the rest of the Midwest.