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MN.IT News



MN.IT @ DOT helps ensure safe roads for Minnesota drivers

April 10, 2014
When winter weather strikes our state, Minnesotans count on MnDOT to keep roads free of snow and ice. But how does MnDOT know where to concentrate its resources? That’s where the Business Intelligence (BI) division on the MN.IT @ DOT team comes in. The BI team brings together the people, processes and data, presenting important snow and ice data in usable formats (e.g., charts and graphs) that make the data more accessible, consistent and timely for the benefit of MnDOT knowledge workers and the citizens of Minnesota.

MnDOT collects snow and ice data through its accounting, timesheet and work order management systems. The MN.IT @ DOT BI Team leverages technology to collect and integrate large amounts of snow and ice data into easily read charts that provide improved insight for decision makers. These charts and graphs are dynamic, so they can be easily dissected and drilled for details.

MnDOT uses MN.IT @ DOT delivered BI and analytics to evaluate its usage of labor, equipment and materials during a snow event, considering both the geographical extent and duration of a storm. Using MN.IT @ DOT delivered BI and analytics data, the agency can assess performance measures such as how many hours it took to clear a road like Interstate 94. 

Technology touches every layer of state government, and BI and analytics are increasingly demanded and necessary to meet the growing business needs of our partners at MnDOT.  With more data available to decision makers every day, our partners at MnDOT know they can count on MN.IT to support the shared mission of serving the citizens of Minnesota by seeking efficient and effective ways to deliver services.


MDE Mobile Report Card app improves mobile operability

February 27, 2014
Today, more Minnesotans than ever are using smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices to access the web. That’s why the MN.IT @ Minnesota Department of Education team has revamped the Minnesota Report Card, a web app that provides important school data to parents and educators. The improved app offers better mobile device functionality and reliability and a better user experience for all users. 

The project builds on the Department of Education’s commitment to empowering citizens, school staff and legislators with accurate and usable data, while making this data more widely available and delivering it more efficiently. The improved web app uses HTML5 technology and a new touch-friendly user interface to ensure compatibility across many different types of devices and web browsers, including mobile phones, tablets and all major desktop platforms. 

In addition to user interface improvements, the team is working to improve maintainability and performance and adhere to best data practice standards. The improvements will ensure the MN.IT @ MDE team can update the app with the most recent data available, while enhancing the data model to support an unlimited number of reports for each school MDE collects performance data on. 

You can try out the new MDE Report Card App at the Minnesota Department of Education website. It¹s another way the people and technology at MN.IT Services are connecting Minnesotans to state government.


MN.IT Services powers DNR’s EagleCam

February 25, 2014
Putting a webcam in the middle of a forest is no simple task, but MN.IT staff are experts at leveraging cutting-edge technology in creative and innovative ways to help our agency partners meet their business objectives. For the second year running, Minnesotans can get a rare glimpse into the nest of a Bald Eagle without disturbing the majestic creatures by checking out the Department of Natural Resources’ Eagle Cam. 

The exact location of the eagle’s nest is being kept confidential to protect the birds, who may abandon a nest if it is disturbed too much. Bald Eagles are a protected species, and it’s illegal to disturb a Bald Eagle nest without a permit. The DNR’s Eagle Cam allows Minnesotans to watch the wild birds go about the natural process of raising young, without jeopardizing the safety of themselves or the animals. 

To provide the live web stream, MN.IT @ DNR staff mounted a high definition video camera on a tree limb about 10 feet above the eagle’s nest.  The camera’s network cable is then connected to a small antenna, which then creates a second link to the main antenna about ¼ mile away. The second antenna is connected to the Internet via a 4G virtual private network connection. 

DNR staff capture the video stream at the agency’s St. Paul headquarters, and then send the stream to MN.IT’s main offices for hosting. This year, the DNR is offering a mobile stream of the Eagle Cam in addition to desktop viewing. In 2013, nearly 165,000 people from all 50 states and 125 different countries viewed the Eagle Cam. It’s just another way MN.IT is helping connect Minnesotans with state government. 

Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam

January 27, 2014

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State and its partners are proud to invite you to Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam, to help build the Minnesota of the 21st century using public data — and your ideas. The one-day event takes place on Saturday, February 22.  Read more.


MN.IT @ DNR reels in Governor’s Award for new mobile app

December 20, 2013
The DNR was recently recognized with a Governor’s Continuous Improvement Award for the new mobile LakeFinder web app. The web app, which was developed in partnership with MN.IT @ DNR staff, helps Minnesota anglers reel in the perfect catch.

The new mobile LakeFinder web app extends the reach of the DNR’s already popular LakeFinder website. The web app provides Minnesota anglers with useful information like lake depth, what kind of fish the lake contains and special fishing regulations that may be in effect. The upgraded web app also includes information on special regulations related to invasive species, helping Minnesota boaters ensure they don’t transport invasive species between lakes. 

The web app benefits Minnesota anglers because mobile device users account for 20 percent of DNR web traffic. Data shows that mobile use peaks on weekends – while people are hunting and fishing – which means providing citizens with data in mobile-friendly formats is more important than ever. 

Congratulations to the MN.IT @ DNR staffers Steve Lime, Brent Pellinen and Kate Lamers on receiving the Governor’s Continuous Improvement Award.  


MN.IT’s CIAO interviewed

November 27, 2013
The long-term goal is a fully accessible state government, in which all our information and applications - whether for the public or for employees - are fully accessible.” ~ Jay Wyant, Minnesota’s Chief Information Accessibility Officer

Minnesota’s Chief Information Accessibility Officer Jay Wyant was recently featured in the Great Lakes ADA Center’s Accessible Technology Bulletin discussing improved accessibility for those in need of information from our state. While Minnesota isn’t the only state with an accessibility initiative, it is the only state to have a Chief Information Accessibility Officer (CIAO).

In 2009, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law requiring the State CIO to develop and implement a standard to make information from state websites, applications and systems more accessible. Jay leads this process by creating awareness and training to guide agencies on accessibility best practices, policies and procedures.

According to Wyant, while creating more accessible information is the right thing to do, other important benefits also come as a result. 
“It’s also a more cost-effective approach: If you apply the necessary thought and care to ensure that everyone can use your technology. You will have better, more effective technology that has a much longer shelf life before it needs to be updated or replaced.”

Visit the ADA Great Lakes Accessible Technology Bulletin to read Jay’s full interview, and be sure to check out MN.IT's accessibility resources  for more information about making your work accessible.  



National Accolades for Minnesota IT Consolidation

October 15, 2013

As the State of Minnesota marks the second anniversary of executive branch IT consolidation this month, two significant achievements are early indicators of the success and value of the monumental two-year effort: the just-announced prestigious national award for Enterprise IT Management from the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) and the successful launch of the MNsure website, Minnesota’s custom-built health information exchange. 

As the State of Minnesota marks the second anniversary of executive branch IT consolidation this month, two significant achievements are early indicators of the success and value of the monumental two-year effort: the just-announced prestigious national award to the State of Minnesota for Enterprise IT Management from the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) and the successful launch of the MNsure website, Minnesota’s custom-built health information exchange. 

Read more here. 

 



MNGeo at the Walker

November 19, 2013
When the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo) at MN.IT Services received a query from the Walker Art Center for aerial imagery of the Twin Cities, it was an unusual request: the client needed the data at a resolution suitable for a 20-foot by 30-foot poster, with file sizes that weren’t overwhelming. 

The poster was for artist-in-residence Fritz Haeg to incorporate in his new exhibition, At Home in the City

MN.IT employees Pete Olson and Norm Anderson took on the challenge to provide the imagery in a suitable format, while Walker Art Center staff worked with Thomas Reprographics to print the imagery and prepare the exhibit. The MnGeo team from MN.IT Services was credited in the exhibit for preparing the 2012 images sourced from the U.S. Geological Survey and Digital Aerial Solutions, LLC. 

 “The wall looks amazing, completely mesmerizing. It is such an excellent addition to the exhibit,” said Residency Coordinator Anna Bierbrauer. Walker Art Center staff members are very pleased with the installation.  

“This is just another testament to the importance of geography in our lives and the work we do,” said Dan Ross, Director and Chief Geospatial Information Officer at MN.IT Services.  



MN.IT staff help launch new website for Minnesota’s veterans

July 10, 2013

MN.IT staff members from @ Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and the Central office provided technical expertise in the creation of the MN Department of Veterans Affairs’ (MDVA) newly redesigned website. The site is part of the MDVA’s continuing efforts to provide the best service and care for the state’s 370,000 veterans.

MN.IT staff worked closely with the MDVA Communications Department, to translate the desires of Minnesota Veterans collected through focus groups, to an extremely user-friendly and easy-to-navigate site. The technical effort included providing a stable development environment, migration of data, design and implementation support. MN.IT also completed extensive testing ahead of the site’s launch.

Since the launch in June, the new site has received a significant increase in hits from as far away as Australia and accolades from Veterans, counties and Veteran groups.

Created specifically with Veterans and families in mind, the website is designed to be user friendly with improved navigation that will serve as a vehicle to help Minnesotans get timely information and news. It is also expected to help Minnesotans better differentiate MDVA from its close partner, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.    

The site will promote and be accessible through the URL of www.MinnesotaVeteran.org, but will also be accessible through the official state website address http://mn.gov/mdva.



MN.IT @ DNR Receives Special Achievement Award for Exceptional Application of Geospatial Technology

July 12, 2013

MN.IT @ DNR’s GIS program was presented with a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award at the Esri International User Conference (Esri UC) in San Diego on July 10. This award acknowledges vision, leadership, hard work and innovative use of Esri's geographic information system (GIS) technology.

“This award recognizes an amazing body of work by many individuals to elevate the MN.IT @ DNR GIS program to world-class status,” said Robert Maki, Chief Information Officer for MN.IT @ DNR. “It is great to see the program recognized through this prestigious award. We seldom stop and take stock of our accomplishments. This is a great opportunity to do so.”

The Department of Natural Resources uses Esri ArcGIS technology as an essential tool in fulfilling its three-part mission of providing outdoor recreational opportunities, conserving natural resources and contributing to the economic vitality of the State of Minnesota. MN.IT @ DNR staff oversee all ArcGIS deployments within the department, providing comprehensive geospatial data management services, software development, user technical support and classroom training.

During the GIS program’s 20-year history, the DNR GIS user community has expanded from 20 specialists, to over 800 natural resource scientists and managers, plus millions of citizens making use of mapping functionality on the DNR website. Program staff members have always placed a high value on external collaboration, and championed “no-fee” distribution of public data and software resources within Minnesota and beyond.

Organizations from around the world honored at the Esri UC range across various industries, including agriculture, cartography, climate change, defense and intelligence, economic development, education, government, health and human services, telecommunications, and utilities.

"The SAG Awards identify the organizations and people that are using the power of geography to improve our world and drive change," says Esri president Jack Dangermond. "At Esri, we are always deeply inspired by the passion and innovation of our users. They deserve recognition for both solving their communities’ greatest challenges and for their invaluable contributions to the continued evolution of geographic science.”

For more information about the 2013 Special Achievement in GIS Award winners, including project information and photos, please visit esri.com/sag.



EUCC partner wins national award for business-government collaboration

August 08, 2012

St. Paul, MN August 8, 2012 - Microsoft, the State of Minnesota’s business partner on the Enterprise Unified Communications and Collaboration (EUCC) move to the cloud, has received the national Top Tech Integrators Exceptional Service Award for their collaborative work on the project. Microsoft was nominated by MN.IT Services, Minnesota's enterprise IT organization, and selected by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government as one of the 11 best organizations in the country that tailor technology solutions for government.

The Exceptional Service Award recognizes an integrator’s role as a key change agent or catalyst for process or operational change within an agency or jurisdiction. Earlier this year, MN.IT Services and Microsoft joined forces to move 40,000 emailboxes into the Cloud, increasing benefits like collaboration, system security and mailbox capacity, while also realizing decreased costs.

“Our partnership with Microsoft resulted in ground-breaking work for state government,” said Ed Valencia, CTO for the State of Minnesota. “This project pushed the boundaries of innovation by focusing not just on innovative technology, but also through such a strongly collaborative business relationship. We’re very proud of the groundbreaking work our team completed with Microsoft as our partner.”

The EUCC transition was completed in a short time with very little disruption to users. The system is expandable and available to other jurisdictions as well – like boards, commissions, cities and counties. The City of St. Paul has recently migrated to the system, for example.

Winners were selected from nominations, submitted by public sector IT entities, of companies who partnered on projects addressing such areas as health and human services; finance and administration; transportation; and economic and business development.

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. The Center is a division of e.Republic, a national publishing, event and research company focused on smart media for public sector innovation. 

For more information on the award and the other 2012 winners, go to the Center for Digital Government’s award site.



LiDAR, MN.IT @ DNR in the news

July 11, 2013

Northland's News Center featured a story about the work of the Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth and MN.IT @ DNR to detect erosion from the 2012 floods. The story explains how the Light Detection and Range (LiDAR) technology can be used to pinpoint erosion that could become problematic in the future. Learn more by watching the video from the Northland's News Center.



State receives national attention for statewide email solution

March 20, 2012

The State of Minnesota has received national attention for a successful project that was a public-private partnership with Microsoft and the State of Minnesota’s executive branch. A Microsoft Customer Spotlight features a case study and news release about the project, which moved the entire State of Minnesota’s executive branch and its 35,000 employees to the cloud-based services of Microsoft Office 365.

The project was also featured in a white paper published by the National Governor’s Association, titled  Top IT Actions to Save States Money and Boost Efficiency.