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When one thinks about high-tech states, one typically thinks of places such as California and Massachusetts. But....Alabama?

The Southern state was the only state government on CIO Magazine’s top 100 institutions for excellence in information technology. According to CIO, the state provides more than 130 e-government applications through the state's portal site. The magazine Government Technology also praised the state earlier this year.

Other projects sponsored as part of Gov. Bob Riley's "Plan for Change" include using Google Earth's Geographic Information System technology for viewing a "virtual Alabama."

CIO cited a number of specific examples of how Alabama is making e-government work. For example, in 2007, 64 percent of home-builder licenses were renewed online with the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board. In June 2007, the Alabama Department of Revenue had 336 users file for tax extensions online, which resulted in payments totaling more than $7.2 million, compared with 49 users filing $804,000 in payments in 2006.

Currently, the state is testing a "media portal" to provide information about the state, including videos.

The state was also cited for its distance learning program, which lets Alabama public high school students take Advanced Placement (AP), elective and other courses to which they may not otherwise have access. Such distance learning programs are particularly useful in rural states that might have trouble getting certified teachers in some areas.

Alabama has also consolidated its email system, making it easier for citizens to contact government employees.

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