PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today is launching Rhode Island Outdoors (RIO), a one-stop spot where those who fish, hunt, and boat may obtain all the licenses, permits, and tags they need.
The unified hub will simplify all outdoors licensing and permitting services that DEM administers, the DEM announced Monday.
Using RIO, customers can renew their licenses, permits, and tags for hunting, trapping, freshwater fishing, and saltwater fishing. In the coming months, the website will add functionality for segments including recreational boating registration, commercial fishing licensing, and hunter safety program modules.
“Tens of thousands of residents and out-of-state visitors alike enjoy hunting, fishing, and boating in Rhode Island, and DEM wants to make their license renewals speedier, more streamlined, and more hassle-free,” said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. “By providing a simple one-stop shopping system, we hope that Rhode Island Outdoors will go a long way toward improving our customers’ user experience.”
“Not only does the new RIO system represent our company’s newest and best technology, it also represents the 20-year history we have working with the Rhode Island DEM,” said NIC Rhode Island General Manager Tom Viall. “We are excited about the launch of the hunting and fishing system this week, but even more excited to have a modern and flexible system in place that we can efficiently and economically continue to grow to meet our state’s outdoor recreational needs in the future.”
The new system will provide an easy, user-friendly interface for all DEM outdoors customers, allowing for optional automatic license renewals and aiding in the removal of duplicate accounts to ensure licenses are always up to date. It also will incorporate more immediate transaction recoveries for all authorized sales agents. Customers can purchase hunting and fishing products directly from the website or in person at nearly 30 bait and gun shops, sporting goods stores, and municipal offices across Rhode Island. In 2021, DEM issued nearly 8,000 hunting licenses, more than 25,000 freshwater fishing licenses, and almost 50,000 saltwater fishing licenses.
One of the biggest problems the new system will help prevent is customers either accidently or purposely establishing duplicate user accounts. In migrating data from DEM’s former outdoor licensing platform to RIO, NIC, the company that developed the RIO system, identified that over 21,500 of the nearly 190,000 accounts were duplicates. This duplication created frustration for customers who, for example, struggled to reprint a lost license previously purchased under a different account. It also was problematic for DEM, which relies on accurate data to manage recreational hunting and fishing in the state.
One change that customers will experience the first time they use RIO is the new system will require a Social Security Number (SSN). This new feature is designed to ensure that each customer has a unique and secure account. Once the SSN has been associated with a customer, they will not be required to reenter the SSN. SSNs will be encrypted and securely stored. Customers also can use a traditional username and password, their customer ID number, or driver’s license number to access the system. Support and training will be provided to sales agents and DEM staff to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.
NIC, as part of Tyler Technologies, is the outdoor licensing vendor for 11 states including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. NIC Rhode Island’s partnership with DEM goes back to 2002 when it developed the state’s first service allowing users to buy their fishing licenses online.
DEM works to protect and enhance wildlife habitat in forests and management areas to ensure healthier, more diverse, and abundant wildlife populations. Hunting has a long tradition in Rhode Island, supporting family customs, connecting people with nature, and attracting tourism to the state. Hunters help provide funding for wildlife conservation through their purchase of firearms and ammunition through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program and generate more matching federal funds ($3 federal match for every $1 state contributed) through the purchase of their state hunting licenses and permits.
For more information about DEM divisions and programs and timely updates, visit www.dem.ri.gov or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM). Follow DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) on Facebook and Instagram (@ri.fishandwildlife) to stay up to date on news, events, and volunteer opportunities.
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