The state of Georgia has been honored with a Government Experience Award for 2017 from the Center for Digital Government. The award recognizes enhancements to citizen service and engagement.

Nikhil Deshpande, Georgia’s Chief Digital Officer, accepted the award on behalf of the state at an event on September 15 in Austin, Texas.

The award program, which builds on the previous Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement Awards, is designed to “celebrate achievements and learn best practices from jurisdictions and organizations that have gone beyond the Web to radically improve upon the experience of government, and push the boundaries of how services are delivered.”

“We are extremely pleased to see our efforts to improve citizen services acknowledged on a national level,” said Mr. Deshpande. “Georgia’s recognition came in the category of Overall State Government Experience and resulted from the numerous technology innovations the state pioneered in recent years to make state government services and information more readily available and easier to use.”

Mr. Deshpande helped lead the adoption of many of those innovations. For example, the state’s web publishing platform, which supports 78 state agency websites, was one of the nation’s first to adopt responsive design technology, which automatically adjusts the display on any website to optimally fit whatever type of device is used, whether a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

The enterprise web publishing platform was also the first state government platform to ensure accessibility for users with a range of disabilities by meeting WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards and federal Section 508 compliance standards.

Georgia’s latest innovation is a conversational interface that allows users to simply ask for the information they need. Anyone with an Amazon Echo device can ask Alexa for information from the site, such as how to order a Georgia birth certificate, register for a fishing license or find the closest Driver Services location. Getting information is as simple as, “Alexa, ask GeorgiaGov.” Conversational interfaces strengthen the state’s commitment to accessibility by creating another path to information for users with vision impairments or mobility limitations.

“Citizen expectations for government are increasingly being reshaped by their experiences with consumer technologies. The website is no longer the only experience they use. It’s now one of many channels in their overall experience,” said Dustin Haisler, Chief Innovation Officer for the Center for Digital Government. “The Government Experience Awards were developed to recognize government agencies that are focusing on designing and delivering services across the overall experience and not necessarily just one channel.”

The Center for Digital Government, headquartered in Folsom, California, is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.