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From paper to PC, the machinery of democracy has changed through the years.

1888: Uniform ballot

Massachusetts becomes the first state to adopt a uniform ballot.

1930: Lever voting

Lever voting machines are used in nearly all major U.S. cities.

1964: Punch-cards

Punch-cards and computer tally machines debut in two Georgia counties.

1996: Direct recording electronic systems

More than 7 percent of U.S. voters use direct recording electronic systems to capture votes digitally.

2011: iPads

Oregon becomes the first to use iPads for touch-screen voting.

2014 Voting software

Clemson University develops voting software that users can download to a smartphone or tablet.

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Cities around the globe have begun to use technology to create more sustainable, resilient and livable places, according to a report from Navigant Research. Smart-city technologies such as wireless networks, sensors, data analytics and cloud computing will drive operational improvements in smart grids, water management, transportation and public safety.


2014$8.8 billion

2023$27.5 billion

Expected worldwide revenue from smart city technology

SOURCE: Navigant Research, "Smart Cities," July 2014

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The Public Technology Institute this year recognized four local governments for using technology "to address issues, current challenges and future opportunities." The winning jurisdictions demonstrated "exceptional talent, great ideas, a spirit of teamwork and collaboration, creativity, technology leadership and proven technology best practices across the entire enterprise":

  • Evanston, Ill.
  • Montgomery County, Md.
  • Pinellas County, Fla.
  • Sacramento County, Calif.

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The city of Boston is banning motorists from selling their parking spaces for cash, according to the Boston Globe site BetaBoston.

The outlet reported that Boston's City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits people from "selling, leasing, or reserving of public ways in the city." The move, according to BetaBoston, was "made squarely to counter Haystack, a Baltimore-based startup that allows parkers in the city’s metered spots to sell access as they were leaving to others looking for openings."

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That's the question Forbes contributor Adriana Lopez posed in a recent article. Cities across the country are clamouring to be the next Silicon Valley, but what does it take to reach that level?

"Even if you bring in the right amount of capital, infrastructure, highly ranked universities, accelerator programs, successful corporations and financial incentives together, there is one important factor that can help thriving business owners: the city," according to Lopez.

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Utah’s Department of Transportation is relying on everyday citizens to fill in the gaps where the agency’s traffic cameras and Road Weather Information System (RWIS) units don’t reach.

The agency’s Citizen Reporting Program uses volunteers to report current road conditions on critical state routes, “with only 0.03 percent of incoming reports determined to be inaccurate.” Read more about the program here.

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University California, San Diego researchers want to equip the state's firefighters with more than the traditional tools.

Researches joined forces with a team from the University of Maryland to develop a “scalable end-to-end cyberinfrastructure system” to “monitor forest conditions, predict when and where a wildfire is most likely to occur, and mitigate the damage they cause by alerting officials within seconds of their outbreak,” according to Gizmodo.

The WIFIRE system was funded by a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

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Should cities be allowed to offer high-speed Internet that’s 50 times faster than what the Federal Communications Commission considers to be the national average? That's the case in Chattanooga, Tenn., but some argue that this level of service puts cities in competition with incumbent Internet providers.

Wilson, N.C., and Chattanooga are among the cities petitioning the FCC “to overrule what city officials call restrictive state laws” against broader high-speed Internet expansion, according to USA Today.

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If the Department of Labor's projections hold true, there will be 1.4 million new information technology jobs by 2020. Whether there will be enough qualified professionals to fill those positions is a widespread concern.

But Kansas City, Mo., Louisville, Ky., and Minneapolis are among the cities offering solutions to the problem. City leaders there are collaborating with local IT employers to expand coding bootcamps in their communities, according to a White House blog post. “Coding bootcamps teach participants with minimal to no IT backgrounds how to write computer code on an accelerated time frame (usually between 9 and 12 weeks) and regularly result in high paying jobs.”

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