2018 Open Data Challenge Brings Together DelDOT, DNREC to Improve Access to Recreation for All Delawareans

DOVER – Citizen coders and civic technologists from across Delaware are set to take on the state’s second annual Open Data Challenge, harnessing the power of public datasets to come up with new solutions to big statewide problems.

Coordinated by Open Data Delaware and the Department of State’s Government Information Center, ODC18 is a series of events and workshops that will allow participants to review and analyze information hosted on the state’s Open Data Portal, then design new apps, websites or programs that will put the data to good use. Teams with the best ideas and the most promising prototypes will be eligible for grant funding to allow them to continue their work.

“The Challenge is designed to get people to think differently about solving problems in our communities,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “We’re encouraging a new way of approaching citizen engagement, collaboration and innovation based on the public data collected by state government.”

For ODC18, two of the state’s largest public agencies, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, have posed a simple question: How can we make sure that all Delawareans have full access to our state’s public forests, beaches and parks – and that they know which roads, buses, trails and bike routes can take them there?

“Delaware has so many recreational options across the state, and we want to make sure everyone who has a desire to visit these destinations has the ability to do so,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan. “Partnering with DNREC and Open Data Delaware, we can harness the creative energy of anyone who would like to participate and offer their ideas.”

“We use the Open Data Portal to share data and information about the natural resources the Department manages,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We are excited to join DelDOT and other partners in this challenge and take the next step toward full public use of our data. We can learn more about how people enjoy Delaware’s great outdoors and our outstanding recreational opportunities. We will find new partners, in and outside of government, and we will gain new perspectives that will help us do our jobs better.”

Examples of the datasets that ODC18 participants could use for their projects include traffic counts and bus schedules, and maps of bike routes, public lands and nature preserves – all available via the state’s Open Data Portal at data.delaware.gov or the GIS Mapping Tool, firstmap.delaware.gov.

The launch of this year’s Challenge was coupled with Gov. John Carney’s signing of Executive Order 18, which gives executive branch agencies until Sept. 30 to deliver an inventory of new data sets that can be added to the portal.

The first major event in the ODC18 series is an “Ideation Session” scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 25, hosted by the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware. The Challenge culminates in May after a month-long Data Jam where teams will take what they’ve learned from Delaware’s data and design prototype solutions to address the challenge prompt.

Challenge teams will be eligible for a total of $32,000 in grant funding, contributed by DelDOT and DNREC, including a top prize of $20,000 for any prototype that combines data from both agencies and serves to advance each of their missions. Tech Impact, a nationwide nonprofit that helps community groups develop and use technology, will administer the grant awards.

“Last year I saw firsthand the social innovation that was unlocked by the use of these data sets,” said Patrick Callahan, executive director of Tech Impact. “Gov. Carney’s recent executive order to expand the data sets, coupled with this year’s Open Data Challenge, will surely allow that innovation to continue. It will be really exciting to watch as this year’s competition focuses on using some of the new data to focus on developing civic solutions.”

For more information on the 2018 Open Data Challenge watch this short video and visit opendatachallenge.com.


Deadline Approaches for Delaware Unclaimed Property Voluntary Disclosure Agreement

Dover, DE – The clock is ticking for Delaware companies that may wish to convert their abandoned and unclaimed property audits to a Voluntary Disclosure Agreement offered by the Secretary of State.

Eligible firms have until Dec. 11, 2017 to choose a VDA conversion.

Companies that elect to enter into a VDA participate in a collaborative settlement process whereby the holder and the state agree upon a quantification methodology and an amount to be reported by the holder. The VDA allows holders to leverage audit work that has already been performed and incorporate it into the agreement to ensure efficiency. A Delaware VDA also provides indemnification against future unclaimed property proceedings by other states.

“The VDA program is a rigorous but fair process,” said Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “For hundreds of companies it’s proven the fastest and easiest way to come into compliance with Delaware law, and remain in compliance going forward.”

Since its inception in 2012, more than 850 companies have enrolled in the VDA program and approximately 450 settlements have been reached to date.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Carney signed into law significant changes to Delaware’s unclaimed property law. These changes created a more streamlined statute that is more consistent with other states’ unclaimed property laws. One key revision grants unclaimed property holders under examination by the Delaware Department of Finance the opportunity to participate in the Secretary of State’s Voluntary Disclosure Agreement program.

Conversion documents must be received by the Secretary of State by Dec. 11, 2017 to be eligible for participation in the VDA program.

Visit https://vda.delaware.gov/ for more information. Further questions may be directed to VDA Administrator Alison Iavarone at alison.iavarone@delaware.gov or 302-577-8959.


Delaware will not provide voter information to White House commission

DOVER – Delaware will not comply with a request from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to provide the panel with sensitive voter registration information including personal identification details for hundreds of thousands of Delawareans.

“Releasing this information to the White House would not serve the mission of safeguarding the fairness and integrity of elections in Delaware and would not be in the best interests of Delaware voters,” said State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove.

“Delaware has a long history of running fair and efficient elections open to all qualified voters. We should not be a part of any effort to turn back the clock on the progress we have made,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. “Delaware will not be a party to this disingenuous and inappropriate campaign against one of the nation’s foundational institutions.”

A letter requesting the voter information was received by Secretary Bullock and forwarded to Commissioner Manlove. Unlike many states, elections in Delaware are not administered by the secretary of state. The election commissioner is an independent, non-partisan official appointed by the governor to a 10-year term and confirmed by the state Senate. The commissioner is the primary overseer of all state and local elections in Delaware, and is the custodian of the state’s voter rolls.

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Contact: Elaine Manlove
Office of the State Election Commissioner
elaine.manlove@delaware.gov
302-739-4277


Secretary of State Announces Medical License Suspension

DOVER – Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock and the state Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline have suspended the Delaware medical license of Eva C. Dickinson, in light of the suspension of her Maryland medical license last month in connection with alleged drug-related criminal activity.

In making this determination, Secretary Bullock and the board considered criminal charges by the Maryland State Police outlined in a complaint filed with the board by the Delaware Department of Justice. Ms. Dickinson is a resident of Caroline County, Md., but has practiced primarily in Delaware at “Cutting Edge Treatment Center,” a pain-management practice in Harrington, and previously at “Compassionate Pain Management,” with locations in Dover and Seaford.

Delaware Code Title 24 enables a temporary suspension pending a hearing to be issued upon the written order of the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the board chair, if the activity of the licensee presents a clear and immediate danger to public health, safety or welfare.

The suspension of Ms. Dickinson will remain in effect for a period of 60 days, during which time disciplinary hearings will be held or the final disposition for this individual will take place. As the result of a hearing, the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline has the authority to impose disciplinary sanctions up to and including revocation of a practitioner’s license or certification.

The licensure status of Ms. Dickinson has been updated on the Division of Professional Regulation’s online license verification service. A copy of the signed order suspending the license of Eva C. Dickinson can also be viewed here.

 


Direct Energy Announces Special Electricity Supply Offer

DOVER – Delaware offers customer choice to Delmarva Power and Delaware Electric Cooperative customers when it comes to purchasing their energy supply. Among the over 50 suppliers certified by the Public Service Commission, Direct Energy Services has announced several new energy supply products with special multi-year fixed price offers and other customer benefits. The new offers are the result of recent efforts by the Delaware General Assembly and the Department of State to seek longer term contracts that can help save money for consumers.

direct energyLegislation passed in 2015 created a state Electricity Affordability Committee and tasked the committee to evaluate options for residential and small-business customers, including multi-year, fixed-price offers and other products and services that could help them manage their energy bills.

Pursuant to this legislation, the state issued a Request for Proposals seeking an energy provider that could meet these requirements. After reviewing all of the proposals, the Electricity Affordability Committee determined that Direct Energy submitted the best offers for consumers. The Secretary of State then entered into a contract with Direct Energy Services to move forward with offering these products.

Direct Energy Services is the only electric supplier contracted with the state to provide a designated fixed-rate offer and services to residential and small commercial customers for two years. The Direct Energy offering is one more tool that customers can use to manage their electric utility bills through the use of a third-party electric supplier. As innovation continues in the utility industry, customers are encouraged to research what options are available to reduce energy use and manage costs.

Delmarva Power and Delaware Electric Cooperative customers can still purchase their electricity from any PSC-certified suppliers making offers. A full list of Certified Electric Suppliers can be found here. Customers may choose to use a certified supplier or remain with their utility’s standard supply rate. Any customer receiving electricity from a third-party supplier will continue to receive a bill from their local utility (Delmarva Power or Delaware Electric Cooperative.) Customers experiencing power outages or emergencies should call their local utilities.