The Office of Innovation works with and across New Jersey State departments and agencies to design and develop products and services by using modern, data-driven, human-centered design, and agile development processes.
How We Work
In partnership with colleagues across the State, the Office of Innovation deploys cross-functional teams with data, design, engineering, policy, product, and strategy expertise to solve pressing public interest challenges for the people of New Jersey. By leveraging human-centered design, agile methodologies, iterative policymaking, and data-driven practices, we place the user at the center of our work and rapidly create solutions that we can test and iterate upon. We work alongside New Jerseyans to ensure that we create products, services, and policies that are more effective, more efficient, and more impactful for the people of the State. We work in the open and encourage you to interact with us through our Github page and contact us with any questions.
Since our creation, we have engaged in a wide variety of projects, including:
- Responding to emerging and urgent needs, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, by deploying modern digital services and expanding the use and availability of data
- Improving the delivery of benefits and services, including Unemployment Insurance and SNAP
- Creating tools to enable the public to participate in open policy making
- Making modern career services and digital tools available to support job seekers in identifying, preparing for, and obtaining family-sustaining jobs
- Improving the way entrepreneurs and business owners start, operate, and grow their businesses in the state
- Exploring policy innovations on issue areas such as economic development, technology governance, open data, open governance, autonomous vehicles, broadband, workforce development and more
Learn more about our key initiatives below.
In collaboration with numerous State departments and agencies, the Office of Innovation has undertaken an array of projects to support the State of New Jersey’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the delivery of information and services to New Jerseyans, and the businesses and institutions of the Garden State. Collectively, these Office of Innovation’s projects have reached millions of New Jerseyans, and served hundreds of thousands of businesses across the Garden State.
- Public Information and Awareness: the Office of Innovation has designed, developed and launched a multitude of projects to make information and guidance on programs, services, rules, and regulations more transparent and easily accessible. Examples of these projects include the COVID-19 Information Hub - which attracts more than 500,000 visitors each week, the COVID-19 Business Information Hub - which has served hundreds of thousands of businesses, the COVID-19 Symptom Checker, a benefits eligibility tool to assist individuals in finding and understanding available support programs, a statewide email update platform, and more.
- Business Assistance: working with NJEDA, the Office of Innovation assisted in the development of the Emergency Assistance Eligibility Wizard - an interactive tool that has helped more than 100,000 businesses identify available support programs - and has assisted several departments deploy modern, high-capacity application systems.
- Public Safety, Protection, and Compliance: working in concert with numerous agency partners, the Office of Innovation has deployed numerous tools to assist with the protection of New Jerseyans, including the Out of State Traveler Registration Form, the Executive Order Violation Reporting Form, the Nursing Home Misconduct Reporting Form, the Eviction Moratorium and Question Form, the PPE Inventory Reporting Form, and more.
- Volunteerism and Donations: the Office of Innovation has assisted several departments and agencies with deploying tools to facilitate and streamline volunteerism and the donation of crucial supplies - these efforts include PPE donations, housing and facility donations, the Healthcare Professional Call to Serve, the Tech Talent Call to Serve, and general disaster response volunteerism.
- Contact Tracing: working closely with the Department of Health and the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Innovation played a crucial role in the development and deployment of the State’s Contact Tracing technology infrastructure.
- Data Modeling and Predictive Analytics: in partnership with leading data scientists and epidemiologists, the Office of Innovation has conducted extensive data modeling and predictive analysis pertaining to COVID-19 prevalence, hospital capacity, and PPE usage.
- Systems Modernization: the Office of Innovation and partners have assisted several departments with modernizing service and benefit delivery systems, including extensive work with the Department of Labor to modernize public-facing elements of its Unemployment Insurance application and certification system.
At the onset of the public health crisis, the Office of Innovation rapidly created a new website to serve as a central information hub on all matters related to COVID-19. The site features constantly updated information in English and Spanish on what resources are available to help New Jerseyans through the pandemic, the latest on business regulations and safety guidance, and scientific content from the Federation of American Scientists. This project was developed in partnership with Yext, which has offered its services to the Office of Innovation on a pro bono basis.
The COVID-19 Information Hub also features a testing site locator and a symptom self-assessment tool where New Jerseyans can check their symptoms and learn what to do if they believe they may have COVID-19. The tool has also provided public health officials with anonymized data to inform predictive analytics and help anticipate where the virus may spread.
Due to the wide-ranging and unprecedented economic impact of COVID-19, a Jobs Portal was rapidly created and deployed on the Information Hub to help connect the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who lost their jobs with employment opportunities provided by essential businesses. The Information Hub is closely linked to the Business Information Hub that serves as a dedicated resource for New Jersey’s business community.
The Business Information Hub at cv.business.nj.gov was rapidly deployed at the start of the COVID-19 crisis to offer a definitive source of information for New Jersey businesses. The Business Info Hub also includes live-chat assistance, provided by the State’s Business Action Center, for businesses that have additional questions or require information clarifications.
Content on the Business Information Hub is updated daily in English and Spanish with the latest information from the Governor’s executive orders and detailed safety guidance for businesses. As the public health crisis evolves, the interagency content process and cooperation put into place during the emergency will be incorporated into Business.NJ.gov to power the site.
SmarterNJ is an open government platform that empowers New Jerseyans to engage on a wide variety of policy issues. To make policies even more effective, we need to tap the State’s most valuable assets: the intelligence, expertise, and know-how of its people. That’s why the SmarterNJ initiative is focused on creating new and innovative ways for the public to meaningfully contribute to the policymaking process.
Through tailored public consultations—developed in partnership with State departments and agencies—the SmarterNJ platform enables the public to submit ideas for government-led, prize-backed challenges, contribute their thoughts and insights regarding policy issues and proposals, and provide feedback on the implementation of policy and programs to ensure that public services are working as intended.
The first project to launch under the SmarterNJ initiative was the Innovation ENJINE Challenge—an open innovation challenge that leveraged the hard-earned knowledge of State employees to make government more effective and efficient. Your Future of Work—a problem identification consultation—was launched in partnership with the New Jersey Future of Work Task Force, and concluded in February of 2020.
The New Jersey Innovation Skills Accelerator is a free, online program to train public officials to leverage new technology and data to drive innovation in their day-to-day work, and tap into the intelligence and expertise of residents of the Garden State. The program includes video instruction, interviews with leading public sector innovators from around the world, readings, and self-assessments to help public entrepreneurs work differently. Course content spans an array of subject areas, including introductions to new technologies like blockchain and big data analytics, utilizing modern methodologies like user-centered design and open innovation, and employing experimental design approaches.
In addition to being freely available to all State government employees, the Innovation Skills Accelerator’s online content is also publicly accessible, with the hope that county and local governments across the Garden State - as well as states and municipalities across the country and the world - will also find the trainings helpful.
The Office of Innovation also works with agency partners to create bespoke innovation skills programming. For example, the Office of Innovation and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office hosted “Governance Innovation for Government Lawyers, Regulators, and Law Enforcement” (May 2022). Thirty-seven participants from 17 divisions, offices, and commissions spent two days learning about new technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics and collective intelligence, and their applications for work in the Attorney General’s Office, discussing how new technologies can be used to create more effective policies and services for residents and exploring opportunities for new data and innovation projects within the Office of the Attorney General.
The Business First Stop initiative was developed to address Governor Murphy’s goal of making government work more effectively to enable inclusive business growth, and is a strategic component of the Governor’s Stronger and Fairer Economic Plan. Developed in partnership with the New Jersey’s Business Action Center (NJBAC) and the Economic Development Authority (EDA), this initiative is intended to simplify and streamline access to the information, resources, and services that aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners need to start, operate, and grow their business in the Garden State.
Designed as a multi-phase initiative, in the long term Business First Stop will: (1) create centralized digital resources that enable businesses to access information pertaining to State requirements and services relevant to them; (2) transition paper-based filings to a digital format and streamline processes for businesses to meet mandated regulatory and operational requirements; and (3) identify key modernizations of policy, law, and operations to create more efficient and effective interactions between businesses and the State.
Shortly before the COVID-19 crisis, Business First Stop completed a comprehensive “discovery sprint” to plan the most effective next steps in remaking the business experience. During the COVID-19 crisis, the initiative leveraged tools like live chat, as well as deploying a modern platform for Business.NJ.gov to host a range of content moving forward.
New Jersey Career Network (NJCN) is an initiative developed in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Labor and the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. NJCN is an intelligent platform that is backed by academic research, validation by expert coaches, and user research that builds job seekers’ skills and confidence. NJCN guides job seekers through their day to-day job search process in order to find a meaningful career by providing personalized structure, tools, resources, and access to interventions.
The beta version of New Jersey Career Network was released in January, 2020 and incorporates a modern, mobile-responsive website that will eventually guide job-seekers to career services and digital tools such as virtual coaching, lifelong learning opportunities, and career management tools, as well as an expert system to match job seekers and other users to the programs and services most relevant to them based on where they are in their job search journey.
The New Jersey Data for the American Dream (D4AD) initiative seeks to empower those in under-resourced communities with the right tools and guidance to get a job, propel their careers, safeguard their progress, and limit unnecessary costs.
To that end, D4AD is creating a smart disclosure tool based on an expanded set of open education and training data. Lack of open data relating to training and employment poses a challenge for job seekers, employers, and government regulators alike. It is not always clear if training programs address a job seeker’s professional needs, whether the knowledge and skills acquired in the program are what employers need, or whether the program is accessible to those who need it most.
The tool will address these challenges and will be available to the public, but will be specifically designed with and for people from disadvantaged populations. The tool will exist as a standalone resource and also be linked to the New Jersey Career Network, the larger set of digital tools being developed for job seekers in the Garden State.
D4AD is a collaborative effort between the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Office of Innovation, the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, the New Jersey Council on Community Colleges, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, and the New Jersey Department of Education.
The Future of Work Task Force, which is chaired by Chief Innovation Officer Beth Simone Noveck, was formed in October 2018 with Governor Phil Murphy’s signing of Executive Order 41. The Task Force is charged with studying how technological innovation will impact the development of jobs and New Jersey’s economy and producing a comprehensive policy roadmap to prepare and protect New Jerseyans from disruptive changes.
The Task Force’s planned work includes: (1) determining which technologies will impact work in New Jersey, and in particular which industries and sectors will be affected; (2) identifying the groups of residents likely to be most affected by these changes and how effects will vary based on differing demographics, including gender, race, income, location, and education; (3) exploring the ways in which the same innovative technologies might improve workplace conditions, create different jobs, and grow the State’s economy; and, (4) devising innovative, impactful, and cost-effective strategies that State government, universities, private corporations, non-profits, and individuals can employ to prepare for these changes and ensure a prosperous and equitable future.
The Office of Innovation works with State departments and agencies to serve residents more effectively by improving public-facing digital products. At the heart of every project we undertake is the core principle of user-centered design and a data driven approach that prioritizes the needs of New Jerseyans. For instance, the Office of Innovation recently worked with the New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) to build a benefits eligibility tool that helps New Jerseyans more easily discover and apply for benefit programs and financial assistance. The aim of the user-centered design project was to simplify an individual’s interaction with DOL, streamline the process of applying for benefits, and ultimately better serve those in need.
Similarly, the Office of Innovation worked with the Department of Health to create an online COVID-19 symptom checker. In addition to providing New Jerseyans with a self-assessment tool to help guide their decisions during the pandemic, the tool anonymously collected data, providing public health officials valuable insight into where the virus may spread. Meanwhile, as part of the NJ Career Network and Business First Stop initiatives, our office is helping to develop digital tools that offer the State a way to better support job seekers and businesses.
The Innovation ENJINE Challenge is an open innovation competition, launched in Spring 2019, to elicit unique perspectives and ideas to make government more effective and efficient from those closest to it: State employees.
In the first stage, employees submitted ideas for new policies and practices that would result in direct cost savings, more streamlined processes, or better services for the people of New Jersey. Over 2,000 participants joined, and the twenty most impactful and implementable proposals, as voted for by their fellow employees, advanced to stage two.
In the second stage, employees were invited to compete - either as individuals or in teams - in crafting a plan for how to implement one of those twenty winning ideas. In December 2019, the five winning plans were announced, and the Office of Innovation has been working closely with these teams to develop and implement their proposals.
One proposal, the creation of a user-friendly chatbot to automate assistance on websites to combat long phone wait times and limited in-person opening hours, has already been implemented on the NJ Department of Labor’s site.
The Office of Innovation collaborates with the Governor’s Office, State agencies, and other public sector stakeholders to advance the development and implementation of policy. By leveraging an approach that is data-driven, human-centered, inclusionary, and open, the Office of Innovation is able to provide key stakeholders with an innovative outlook on policy design and delivery. Our work has spanned issue areas such as economic and workforce development, public health, technology governance, open data, autonomous vehicles, and more.