By DERIC C. NANCE
The initial steps towards “digital Utah” were made Saturday when Governor Mike Leavitt passed Senate Bill 188, Digital State, using a “digital signature.”
The state’s first electronic signature on a piece of legislation was wired from Leavitt to his office manager Dorothy Mooso, five feet away, in a demonstration held at Matheson Courts Complex in downtown Salt Lake.
The Digital State Act requires government agencies to provide online translations and creates a task force to outline what steps need to be taken to achieve a digital state, said Dave Moon, communications advisor for the office of the Governor.
Governor Mike Leavitt first introduced the idea of a “digitized Utah” in his State of the State Address in January. The phrase refers to a proposed digital infrastructure that guarantees every community in Utah access to high-speed Internet service.
Government services, such as filing, licensing and payment processes, will be available 24 hours a day online, Moon said. Utahns will use the Internet or e-mail to renew their driver’s licenses and vehicle registration. Moon said income taxes will be filed electronically, as well as benefit claims, legal documents and other government paperwork.
The task force will begin to pave the way to showcase Utah as the first truly “Digital State” by the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Moon said.
Robert Ingebretson, Webmaster for the state of Utah, said Leavitt’s “digital state” will provide high-bandwidth Internet access to every home and business throughout the state using Digital Subscriber Line technology, cable modems and wireless data services.
Education will be enhanced on the Internet with distant learning courses and services, Ingebretson said. Parents can check on student’s progress and consult with teachers via e-mail and video conferencing.
Leavitt outlined a “Digital Main Street” for every city and community in his “digital state” vision statement. Each city would have in place a “Chamber of Electrical Commerce,” providing businesses with access to information, technology, resources and training they need to do secure online banking and online commercial transactions.
This “Digital Main Street,” Leavitt said, could also include a virtual city hall, online directories of local businesses, goods and services, and the necessary infrastructure to allow non-profit organizations and local businesses to participate in the digital economy.