Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is launching a new website that will serve as a one-stop-shop where Rhode Islanders can obtain licenses, permits, and tags for fishing, hunting, and boating.

In a press release, DEM said that the unified hub – called Rhode Island Outdoors (RIO) – will modernize and simplify all outdoors licensing and permitting services that DEM administers. DEM added that the hub will launch in mid-February.

“Rhode Island Outdoors, or RIO, is a very big step forward to improving our customers’ user experience by providing all outdoor licensing and permitting options in a simple ‘one-stop shopping’ system,” said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. “Modernizing Rhode Island’s government services is a priority of Governor McKee’s RI2030 plan and DEM has several major initiatives underway to improve services across the department. RIO will make license renewals speedier, more streamlined, and more hassle-free. It will allow hunters, anglers, and boaters to spend more time outside and on the water, which is where they want to be.”

RIO is being developed by NIC Rhode Island, an outdoor licensing vendor. The state noted that NIC Rhode Island has been providing e-government solutions to the state for 20 years and has been a DEM partner since 2002.

When the portal goes live next month, users will be able to renew their licenses, permits, and tags for hunting, trapping, freshwater fishing, and saltwater fishing. In the near future, DEM anticipates adding additional website functionality for segments including recreational boating registration, commercial fishing licensing, ATV/snowmobile registration, and hunter safety program modules.

DEM also explained that the new portal will allow for optional automatic license renewals and aid in the removal of duplicate accounts to ensure licenses are up to date. It also will incorporate more immediate transaction recoveries for all authorized sales agents. Additionally, customers can purchase hunting and fishing products directly from the website or in person at more than 35 bait and gun shops and sporting goods stores across Rhode Island. To ease the transition to RIO, DEM noted that data from the current system will be imported to RIO including customer profiles, purchase history, and hunter certification information.

DEM did note that a big change customers will experience when they first use RIO is that the system now requires a Social Security Number (SSN). DEM said that the new feature is designed to ensure that each customer has a unique and secure account. In a press release, DEM explained that once the SSN has been associated with a customer, they will not be required to reenter the SSN. While customers can use their SSN to access the system, they also can use a traditional username and password, their customer ID number, or driver’s license number. SSNs will be encrypted and securely stored.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs