The future of informational technology in the U.P. was at the forefront of a 40 Below Young Professionals meeting tonight in Marquette.
Governor Snyder’s Chief Information Officer, David Behen, was on hand to discuss Michigan’s technological investments and innovative IT programs that will enhance and expand customer service in the U.P. Over the past two years, an unprecedented amount of fiber optics has been installed alongside highways across the region. If the necessary legislation goes through, the addition of several hundred miles of infrastructure will allow Internet service providers to tap into the network and offer rural customers a high speed connection.
“You have infrastructure here, and the knowledge and the talent, to really have a significant impact,” explained Behen, the CIO for the State of Michigan. “You don’t have to be in an urban setting, a real urban setting like Detroit or Ann Arbor or anything like that, to use the technology they use. You want to come up here and you want to start a dialogue with them. You want to understand what’s happening here. What happens is you start building partnerships. The questions we had about women in technology; that’s a huge issue. Just by having that question asked and us answering them, we’ve built a relationship with them, now, where we’re going to work together to ensure that the goals they have will happen.”
Behen has been working with state departments like the DNR and the DEQ, and will soon be rolling out a stable of mobile applications to bring their services directly to the people.