Try before you buy at NC’s iCenter

Agencies are taking advantage of North Carolina’s Innovation Center, which provides a proving ground for IT solutions and fosters collaboration among state technology buyers.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is getting a new computer system that lets it sell commercial fishing licenses and issue permits. That’s not so newsworthy on its surface, but the use of North Carolina’s Innovation Center (iCenter) to get it is.

The division took advantage of the three-year-old center’s “try before you buy” approach to information technology, which uses the iCenter as a proving ground for IT solutions before investing in them. As a result, the division found an option to update its Fisheries Information Network that is $5 million less expensive than estimates for similar systems.

“That project is going extremely well,” iCenter director Eric Ellis said. “It’s one of what I would call our first, true, agile-like projects,” he said. “We’ll be able to begin to see success from an actual production instance in the next month.”  The fact that an agile project is gaining traction is noteworthy in a state where most of the projects in the past had used waterfall development methods.

The iCenter was created in 2013 as a way to focus on in-state innovation. In 2014, however, the center began reaching out to technology officials nationwide through a National Innovation Community,  a coalition to bring innovative ideas and practices to government technology.  The Community is sponsored by the National Association of State CIOs and started with 25 states collaborating. Since then, the center has worked with 48 states and tested about $11 million worth of equipment so far, including mobile endpoint devices, Office 365, hosted virtual desktops and beacon technologies.

“Because of our affiliation with NASCIO, I feel like we have done an even better job of outreach around the nation. I think it’s incredibly valuable to [work with] people who are facing the same challenges you are,”  Ellis said. “We share lessons learned and innovative technologies that are emerging. It’s a win-win situation for all involved.”

The iCenter gives state IT buyers a chance to see new tools. “When they come to the Innovation Center, we make them aware of some of the capable, useful technologies out there,” Ellis said. “This enables state agencies to get a better result and spend less; we’re seeing a lot of cost avoidance.”

To work with iCenter, agencies submit questions and ideas that center officials review, and once approved, the agencies can test their proofs-of-concept through the center. Each week, Ellis and another center official hold phone conferences with representatives from various states. Typically about 15 to 30 states are on the call where lessons learned and innovative tech is shared.

iCenter used the national network to help with North Carolina Digital Commons project, which aims to provide a common look and feel as well as a common platform to state websites. Georgia had already done something similar using Drupal, so North Carolina used that as a model. At the same time, Minnesota started work on the same type of project, so now all three states are collaborating.

“Since its inception, the iCenter has fostered an environment for collaboration, creativity and innovation,” Ellis said. An open platform like Drupal makes it easy to share code, which reduces the amount of labor involved. For the Digital Commons  project, “we were able to get most of our state agencies migrated to one, common open Drupal platform, allowing our citizens to do business with the state easily and more efficiently.”

But CIOs aren’t the only ones participating. “These days, we have a more cohesive process that allows more people to be involved,” Ellis said. “There are people in other agencies that have innovative ideas, and we’ve made it really simple for them to share those by going on our website, clicking on a button and typing in an idea to begin the process.”

The projects ultimately belong to the sponsor agency, which runs the proof-of-concept, not iCenter. “We are careful with our proof-of concept process -- we don’t want to turn into a project management office; that’s not the goal,” Ellis said. “The goal is for us to be a proving ground for technology.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.