In an effort to lead a culture of innovation that will increase government and citizen engagement in California, the Operation Division of the California Department of Technology (CDT) has launched the Office of Digital Innovation and Technology Engagement. This new office will define an approach to government technology innovation that will drive the CDT forward as a thought leader and technology innovator in state government.

The Office of Digital Innovation and Technology Engagement will enable the State of California to leverage its current investments in data and information; creating new and innovative approaches to information sharing that will  provide government, citizens and business the opportunity to make more relevant, data driven decisions. It will also foster the development of technology solution based solely on open source technologies cultivating new ways government can develop agile, efficient, and cost effective innovative technology offerings to the State of California.

The Office of Digital Innovation and Technology Engagement will be managed by the State Geographic Information Officer, Scott Gregory, and his team.

The first major initiative of the Office of Digital Innovation and Technology Engagement is the creation of an open source development environment, that will reside within CalCloud, called the California Innovation Lab. The California Innovation Lab will be a “tech-habitat” for California government organizations to build, test, and deploy open source technologies within the state’s data center. This inaugural project for California government will provide a radical shift in the development of potential technology offerings in and by government as well as transparency with its citizens.
“This mode of communication—between government and the citizen—strengthens and bolsters our democracy,” said Chris Cruz, Chief Deputy Director of Operations for the CDT.  “This project will create an important link between what we promise and what we deliver as a trusted government partner to effectuate civic engagement.”

As part of the development of this frontier endeavor in California government, the CDT will develop sound policy and usage standards around the use of open source technology within the state’s open source cloud environment. This will foster a highly collaborative environment between state, city, county and open source experts that will expand and share civic application and technology development; all the while leveraging industry best practices and lessons learned from the Open Source community in an effort to launch California forward as a thought leader and technology pioneer in the delivery of government services.

The first application to be managed and developed within the innovation lab is the Green Buyer application. This application was developed during a two day code-a-thon that was hosted by the California Department of General Services and the Government Operations Agency. The focus of the code-a-thon was sustainability, and was therefore supported by many relevant open data sets that were provided as part of the pilot launch of an open data platform.  The goal of the application, written in Ruby on Rails, helps citizens and government to gain a better understanding of the quantity of sustainable products that are purchased by departments every year. Further development of the application will be accomplished in the Office of Digital Innovation and Technology Engagement open source technology environment.

The Government Operations Agency and CDT will host an Open Data Forum February 29 at the CDT Training and Education Center for state entities to learn about the new Office, open source offerings and options for open data platforms and service providers.

“Delivering the promise of a new conversation between government and citizenry is the impetus of this project,” continued Cruz.  “Through it, we provide transparent access to taxpayer derived data and content, the potential for more cost-effective and efficient technology solutions while engendering a climate of civic innovation that will increase governmental and citizen engagement in the safety and security of CalCloud.”