Prototypes are used to represent, test, and revise design concepts. Their purpose is to test certain aspects or characteristics of a desired system without incurring the cost or time of actually building a full system. Prototypes include just enough functionality, data, and presentation features to build mutual understanding between designers and users and to test key elements of the design. They are not developed into a final product, but inform its later development through iterative testing, discussion, and evaluation. Prototypes can range from paper and pencil sketches to partial systems, depending on the complexity of the design to be tested.
The New York State-Local Internet Gateway Prototype was a partial system built to identify, demonstrate, and evaluate key factors associated with the design, development, and deployment of a single point of contact for G2G work among state and local governments. In design terms, the Prototype channels multiple G2G business functions through a secure, single sign-on, role-based system accessible through the Internet. It was used to assess management, policy, technology, and cost implications likely to be associated with the development of a full-scale G2G system. The overarching goal was to understand what would be necessary for state, county, and municipal governments to realize greater efficiency, high quality authentic data, and more consistent and coordinated services.
Figure 3. New York State-Local Internet Gateway Prototype design
Figure 3 represents the high-level conceptual design of the Gateway Prototype. It included applications from three state agencies, plus general information features. It used data about 15 (of 62) counties and their associated municipalities. This data was provided by the participating state agencies. The Prototype did not include any financial transactions associated with the applications. It operated from a secure Web site hosted on the public Internet and was available to authorized government officials. The Prototype focused entirely on G2G relationships: it did not offer public services.
Even in this limited form, however, the Prototype was designed to represent key features of governmental structure and dynamics in New York State. Toward that end, key working assumptions were adopted that guided participation, design, and testing. First, state and local agencies were all defined as both customers and suppliers of information and services to the Gateway Prototype; neither level was exclusively the customer of the other.
Second, in order for the Prototype to generate enough useful results, it had to demonstrate how multiple organizations at different levels of government work together. We therefore selected three state agencies from three different policy domains and thirteen local governments (including counties, towns, and cities, but not villages) from every region of the state to take part in the design. We refer to cities and towns collectively as "municipalities." Local governments were selected to represent a wide variety of size, wealth, and technical sophistication. Together with the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) staff and corporate partners, these state and local representatives constituted the Prototype Team.
Third, part of the Gateway Prototype's purpose was to identify the value proposition for all participants. Consequently, both benefits and major cost categories were documented for all types of participants. This data lays a foundation for establishing cost structures for any future effort.
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