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Finalists for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ State IT Recognition Awards are in! From over 100 submissions, the organization has selected 32 finalists in 11 categories that represent outstanding state government IT achievements, NASCIO announced in a press release.

The nominations look to target state governments with innovative use of technology that addresses critical business issues and improve business processes, as well as more easily connect with residents and offers new opportunities in citizens’ lives.

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Medicaid users in Maryland can now reach their healthcare professionals via their smartphones and tablets. The state has begun offering emergency room telehealth visits through a free app that aims to bring healthcare professionals into users’ homes as well as cut down on unnecessary ER visits, WDMV reports. The app, My VirtualMPC, allows users enrolled in the statewide Maryland Physicians Care plan video chat or instant message with physicians.

“It can be something simple, whatever the issue is. Sometimes, we give them advice that they do need to be seen somewhere, but we can help them figure out where that might be. Sometimes, we can fix the problem right there on the application, and if they need a prescription, we can call that in for them,” Alex Mohseni of Sky Physicians, which provides care through the app, tells the source.

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Public libraries have a long tradition of protecting patron privacy. For example, they’re ethically bound to withhold the titles of books loaned to individuals unless law enforcement authorities present a warrant. As libraries increasingly share data with third-party cloud services, the risk of unintended information disclosures rises.

Public libraries must refine and update their privacy policies for the cloud age, concludes Michael Zimmer, director of the Center for Information Policy Research at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, who just completed a two-year study that assesses this risk.

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Just weeks after the WannaCry ransomware attack hit organizations across the globe, hackers have launched a new surge of cyberattacks.

Local and State Websites See Slew of Hacks

Local government websites in at least three states have reported experiencing cyberattacks that replace website content with what appears to be pro-ISIS propaganda, CNN reports.

Websites for the Washington state Department of Health, Howard County, Md., the town of Brookhaven, N.Y., and several websites in Ohio all confirmed similar hacking incidents taking place over the weekend.

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is looking to capitalize on the flourishing unmanned systems industry by establishing a new Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence in the state.

“The autonomous systems industry is one of the cornerstones of the new Virginia economy,” said Gov. McAuliffe in a statement. “With the establishment of the Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence, we will send a clear message that Virginia is open for unmanned systems business. Over the past three years, we’ve made tremendous progress to support this emerging industry, and we’ll continue our efforts to cut red tape and open the door for further growth.”

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Florida’s Agency for State Technology (AST) recently came under scrutiny as a House bill aimed to terminate the existing agency and transfer the state’s IT leadership to the Department of Management Services. The bill would also create a Florida Cybersecurity Task Force.

Despite the threat of reorganization, the AST maintains funding and authority through the next fiscal year, Government Technology reports. A new deal regarding the AST will expand its authority slightly as well as allow the state’s chief information officer to appoint a chief data officer, as well as create a geographic information office

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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is bolstering the state's cybersecurity efforts after signing an executive order on April 19 establishing a Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Executive Oversight Group. The group will examine, enforce, and strengthen cybersecurity across the state with the aim to mitigate cyberattacks, WISTV reports.

“Protecting its citizens is the most critical job a government is tasked with – from enemies we can see and those we can’t,” McMaster said in a statement, WISTV reported. “Cyber attacks are among the most common and potentially crippling offenses that face our state and country. With partnerships like this one, we are committing to being as proactive as possible in protecting our people and doing everything in our power to make sure we are as safe and secure as possible.”

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Just before midnight on April 7, the city of Dallas experienced a rather rude awakening as all 156 of its emergency sirens were hacked, causing a ruckus that lasted 90 minutes.

Although Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management won’t reveal much about the hack for security reasons, they recently revealed the work to be not a hack of network systems, but through a radio or telephone signal.

"It's a radio system, not a computer issue," Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax said Monday morning, Dallas News reports. "As we brought the system back up, some encryption was added as part of our process to prevent this type of error from occurring going forward."

The city's outdoor warning system was installed over a decade ago and city officials were unaware that the signals could be compromised in this manner.

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As local governments find new uses for the cloud, new ­questions and ­considerations arise. Sarah Koonts, director of North Carolina’s Division of Archives and Records, encourages CIOs to also look far into the future as they search for answers.

Koonts’s team ensures the safety of key financial, legal and ­policy documents designated to become permanent parts of the state’s history. And the cloud continues to play an increasingly important role in those efforts. “The cloud offers a less expensive way to permanently store large data sets, compared to installing servers and paying people to maintain them,” she says. “The information is housed offsite, so it’s protected if a disaster strikes our area.”

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