The digital age has given us plenty of new lingo. From smartphones to the Internet of Things (IoT), the growth of technology has also created its own vocabulary. Now, it is time to add the term “smart state” to our digital dictionary.

A spinoff of the “smart cities” concept, smart states are state governments with a vision for how technology can help make government work better. A recent white paper by the market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) provides an in-depth look at the smart states concept, and it examines how Illinois is becoming one of the early leaders.

“Introducing the Smart State: Illinois Leads the Way” identifies the basic elements of a smart state. According to IDC, smart states are vital to the growth of smart cities, and, in that effort, they have a triple role. It consists of transforming state government to become more efficient and technologically smart, supporting cities that are trying to do the same, and creating regional clusters so those cities can connect with each other.

According to the white paper, Illinois has taken the first steps toward becoming a smart state by articulating its vision. It has outlined several goals, including improved efficiency, effectiveness and accessibility of government services; the creation of an attractive business environment; increased gross domestic product/economic value over a decade; becoming a leader in the smart state movement; and creating a tangible platform for global competitiveness.

The state’s first step in achieving these goals was to survey government agencies to determine the adoption level of IoT and smart city technologies and initiatives. The survey showed a relatively low adoption rate (7 percent) but a noticeably higher expected growth rate in these project types (24 percent) over the next two years.
 For more on smart cities, see our article "Smart Cities" by Claire Swedberg.