StateTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Government en How the Private Sector Works with NASCIO’s Model of CIO as Broker <p>Over the past two years, the <a href="" target="_blank">National Association of State Chief Information Officers</a> fully embraced a new model for state CIOs known as “<a href="">CIO as a broker</a>,” where IT chiefs <strong>serve as facilitators for acquiring goods and services</strong> with the recognition that they cannot simply prescribe solutions for stakeholder agencies.</p> <p>With this model, the <strong>private sector becomes an even more important player</strong> in the procurement process for state agencies. </p> <p>“Multisourcing is emerging as the discipline for managing a complex and diversified portfolio of services and service providers. These services are being employed to meet the continual evolving demand for creatively delivering government services through new channels with new functionality,” <a href="" target="_blank">NASCIO notes</a>.</p> <p>The concept of <strong>creative fulfillment</strong> of government requirements opens the door for powerful interaction with those customers by <strong>integrators, distributors and manufacturers</strong>. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>VIDEO: </strong>Find out why customer relationship management is critical for state IT leaders. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">Vendors Engage with Agencies Under an Established Framework</h2> <p>In May 2019, NASCIO published “<a href="" target="_blank">The State CIO Operating Model: A Playbook for Managing Change in a Sustainable Way</a>.” In the playbook, the association observed <strong>the private sector already operates on a brokerage model</strong>, paving the way for state government to follow. </p> <p>“Citizens are familiar with the ease of use and delivery of services from the private sector, and states can broker a similar experience for government services. CIOs must forge strong partnerships with the IT vendor community to effectively deliver government services to citizens,” Utah CIO Mike Hussey says in the playbook. </p> <p>The playbook specifies that state CIOs set the framework in which their sister agencies operate, but <strong>freedom to choose from multiple vendors is left to specific agencies.</strong></p> <p>“The state CIO must broker many aspects of service delivery including <strong>needs and demands, market capabilities, internal capabilities, vendor relationships, contracts</strong> and <a href="" target="_blank">service level agreements</a>, budgets, management initiatives, programs and projects,” the playbook reads.</p> <p>The playbook prescribes <strong>engaging the market early and often</strong>: “Market engagement is more than simply meeting with suppliers. It is a collaborative and intentional exercise designed to foster understanding between buyers and sellers.”</p> <p>State CIOs should host forums where agencies can assess market opportunities and innovations to<strong> maintain an understanding of current and emerging technologies</strong>, the playbook says. It advises CIOs to focus on outcomes and not specific tools.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>What are the biggest trends for state CIOs? </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_1">Collaboration with Vendors Key to Fulfilling Service Requirements</h2> <p>In a takeaway from the NASCIO 2019 annual conference, <a href="" target="_blank">StateScoop reports</a> the conference saw “a near unanimous push among chief information officers to expand their ‘as-a-service’ business models as they integrate with the rest of their organizations.”</p> <p>The article characterizes the brokerage model as a result of increased adoption of cloud computing initiatives. In <a href="" target="_blank">NASCIO’s 2019 annual state CIO survey</a>,<strong> 92 percent </strong>of CIOs said they would expand their “as-a-service” offerings, while <strong>48 percent</strong> said they would scale down state owned and operated data centers.</p> <p>With shifting focus on negotiating services, some see <strong>value in government CIOs with a business background rather than a technical background</strong>. “What states and some local governments are looking for are CIOs who are less technologists and more adept at communicating and relationship building,” <a href="" target="_blank">notes <em>Government Techology</em></a>. This change comes with a greater emphasis on private sector partners as a source of technical knowledge.</p> <p>In 2018, <a href="" target="_blank">NASCIO surveyed its private sector members</a> on what reforms would best improve state IT procurement processes.</p> <p><strong>More than 80 percent</strong> responded “Craft RFIs and RFPs in a manner that encourages solutions from the private sector rather than focusing on overly prescriptive specifications.”<strong> Nearly 80 percent</strong> responded “Work with all parties — including those from the private sector — to establish a process that increases flexibility and communication.”</p> <p>NASCIO seems to have taken these recommendations to heart, and private sector companies potentially have greater opportunities to work as collaborative partners with state agencies.</p> <p><em>This article is part of </em>StateTech<em>'s <a href="">CITizen blog series</a>. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the <a href="">#StateLocalIT</a> hashtag.</em></p> <p><em><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href="" target="_blank"><img alt="CITizen_blog_cropped_0.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="" /></a></em></p> Kevin Cucuel 30 State and Local Government IT Influencers Worth a Follow in 2019 <p>The concept of federalism is central to the American republic, and it diffuses power away from Washington, D.C., and <strong>out to state capitals, major cities and towns across the country</strong>. </p> <p>That means that there is <strong>a wide constellation of players who impact state and local governments and the technologies they use</strong>. There is a correspondingly large number of those who influence the conversation around state and local IT. They include governors, state and city CIOs, analysts, journalists and podcasters. </p> <p>So, to help government IT pros stay in the loop, <em>StateTech</em> has sorted through the most influential state and local government IT voices on the internet. In response to an evolving industry and ever-changing technology, we’ve adopted a new approach to keeping track of the industry’s thought leaders, and have turned our <a href="">Must-Read State and Local IT Blogger List</a> into an “influencer list” that covers not just bloggers, but also <strong>Twitter personalities, podcasts, LinkedIn pros and those who use their social channels to get the word ou</strong>t.</p> <p>Here is our curated collection of 30 state and local IT influencers, which we hope will be your go-to guide for keeping tabs on the latest in state and local government IT trends, smart cities and more. If you’re on the list, spread the news and <a href=""><strong>grab our IT influencer cover image for your Twitter page</strong></a>!</p> Phil Goldstein Wi-Fi Security: How to Secure Citywide Wi-Fi Networks <p>Wi-Fi access and <a href="">citywide Wi-Fi networks</a> are critical assets to smart cities and towns around the country.</p> <p>However, that network availability comes at a cost, as <strong>public Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to cyberattacks</strong>. Cybersecurity firm <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">Norton</a> calls free public Wi-Fi a “<a href="" target="_blank">hacker’s playground for stealing personal information</a>.” It doesn’t matter whether that free Wi-Fi is provided by the local Starbucks or city hall: They’re all hacker targets.</p> <p>But a combination of strong encryption and implementation can make big differences in how cities keep their citizens and visitors safe for when they use public Wi-Fi networks. </p> <p>“Even with weak encryption, you have to apply resources to break it,” says Ted Wagner, vice president and CISO of <a href="" target="_blank">SAP NS2</a>, a cybersecurity subsidiary of SAP. “A lot of time,<strong> cities get in trouble with poor implementation and configuration</strong>.”</p> <p><strong>Public-private partnerships</strong> can also help cities harness the power and expertise of tech companies to do the heavy lifting for them — and cut down on costs.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Find out how to make smart cities safer and more secure.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">Strong Encryption Is the Starting Point for Safe Public Wi-Fi</h2> <p>As public Wi-Fi has gained prominence, so have stronger encryption options. Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP), one of the first encryption schemes for protecting wireless networks, has proven to be insufficient to keep out determined attackers. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) was built to replace WEP, but hackers exposed its flaws too.</p> <p>The current standard, says Wagner, is WPA2, which<strong> leverages advanced encryption standards (AES), combined with 802.11i</strong>. This is combined with <a href="" target="_blank">RADIUS servers</a> to manage encryption architecture, since a RADIUS server uses a central database to authenticate remote users and is “a strong way to distribute the certificates as opposed to the wireless access point trying to distribute” them, Wagner says.</p> <p>Wagner adds that city CIOs “also need to pay attention, <strong>do due diligence and double-checking</strong>” of their systems to make sure that city Wi-Fi stays secure. “I tell folks I don’t trust myself in my security controls. <strong>I like having a third party come in and check my math</strong>,” he says. “So, it’s important to be diligent.”</p> <p>Wilfred Pinfold, chair of the <a href="" target="_blank">ACM Emerging Interest Group</a> on Smart Cities, and the CEO of <a href="" target="_blank">Urban.Systems</a>, says city Wi-Fi can be hacked because of something as simple as not changing default passwords on equipment or not keeping up with security updates and patches.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of security breakdowns because things are forgotten and not done,” he says. “It’s a matter of <strong>discipline and care being taken in setting up your infrastructur</strong>e. That goes for every piece of equipment on the network.”</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH:</strong> Find out how managed security services help state and local agencies boost cybersecurity. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_1">Squashing Rogue Smart City Wi-Fi Networks</h2> <p>Adding captive portal authentications can help users differentiate between a city’s Wi-Fi network and website landing pages that users reach when they try to access the Wi-Fi network. The landing page for the public Wi-Fi system in Kansas City, Mo., for example, has both the city’s logo and that of Sprint, the city’s network partner. That way users “knew they were on the right network and didn’t log into a rogue network,” says Bob Bennett, chair of the <a href="" target="_blank">Cities Today Institute</a> and former chief innovation officer of Kansas City.</p> <p>But these pages can easily be cloned, and hackers can insert code into the website itself, says Wagner. A stronger option is “more pure authentication process on both sides,” he says. </p> <p>That can be done through <strong>802.1x, which adds a layer of user-authenticated security and establishes a tunnel from that user to the access point</strong>. Cities can also use PKI certificates, which provide fully automated and secure connections. Pinfold says this is the most common mechanism for public encryption. In this system, X.509 PKI certificates uniquely identify end users and devices.</p> <p>These encryption technologies “let us do that quite simply and seamlessly, and we should be using them more,” says Pinfold.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>VIDEO: </strong>Find out what keeps state CISOs up at night. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_2">Public-Private Partnerships Can Combat Public Wi-Fi Security Risks</h2> <p>Cities trying to set up and run their own public Wi-Fi networks are often at a disadvantage, simply from a talent perspective. “They really struggle to compete for the best talent and to have the right resources and budget to do upgrades,” says Bennett.</p> <p>That’s why many cities are partnering with big tech.<strong> Public-private partnerships</strong> are the dominant business model for procuring and operating public digital communications networks, <a href="" target="_blank">according to a study presented at the International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance</a> this year.</p> <p>It’s not just about saving money; it puts the experts in charge of security of these networks, which is their normal line of business.</p> <p>When Kansas City <a href="">offered public Wi-Fi across a 54-block area</a> in downtown Kansas City, the city did so with Sprint, which owns and operates the network. Sprint “had <strong>higher levels of security than anything I could have done with public sector management</strong>,” Bennett says. He added that these partnerships are of interest to tech companies because being part of citywide Wi-Fi can demonstrate their ability to be good corporate citizens too.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Discover how public transit Wi-Fi fuels smart city deployments. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_3">5G’s Potential for Secure City Wi-Fi Networks</h2> <p>While Wagner says methods like Hotspot 2.0 protocols, an industrywide accepted approach to making Wi-Fi roaming seamless, can work, he says that the market is moving to 5G, <a href="" target="_blank">which was a common subject at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show</a>. “A lot of people are very excited about 5G. It may come in at a price point that would be competitive with Wi-Fi,” Wagner says.</p> <p>Cities are also looking at leveraging existing 5G infrastructure like that being built by Verizon and AT&amp;T.<strong> “5G holds great promise against traditional wireless service,” </strong>Wagner adds.</p> <p>Bennett says people in state governments are already looking beyond 5G, and talking about 6G and 7G too, especially since cities are “probably going to build a network and set an infrastructure than can last 30 years,” he says.</p> <h2 id="toc_4">Why Public Wi-Fi is Crucial for Smart Cities</h2> <p>The security risks that public Wi-Fi presents aren’t a reason to ditch them all together, says Wagner. They offer too many possibilities for smart cities and help local economies. <a href="" target="_blank">According to the National League of Cities</a>, cities with economies based around digital technologies are <strong>more likely to have lower unemployment and poverty levels,</strong> and an urban area’s median income level and gross domestic product per capita correspond to the strength of its internet sector. </p> <p>Not only does public Wi-Fi <a href="">power Internet of Things devices</a> that provide data for better decision-making, but public Wi-Fi is also seen by government as a way to <a href="">help cities and states address infrastructure gaps</a> and help them prepare for natural disasters. It can help <strong>address income inequality by providing internet access to citizens who may not be able to afford it otherwis</strong>e.</p> <p>“We don’t want to leave large swaths of our population without this access to the internet and the technology and capabilities that it brings,” says Wagner.</p> <p>“The reason we went with Wi-Fi was not just so my daughter could upload her Instagram posts from downtown, which is still a cool thing,” says Bennett. It was for “<strong>a whole set of my population that doesn’t have access to the internet</strong>. Now those Johnnys and Janes can do their homework at home, and that’s a good thing.”</p> Jen A. Miller How Flash Storage Can Help Governments with Backup and Recovery <p>State and local governments know all about the role data plays in our lives and the importance of regular backups. They also know <strong>rapid restore — the flip side of disaster preparedness — becomes more vital by the day</strong>. </p> <p>Cybersecurity and data protection are hot topics in the news. With state officials <a href="" target="_blank">concerned</a> over funding and security for the 2020 election and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers <a href="" target="_blank">releasing guides</a> to state and local partners emphasizing the importance of routine data backup in light of increasing cyberattacks on governments, <strong>data backup and rapid restore </strong><a href="">are more important than ever</a>.</p> <p>State and local governments understand the critical nature of data, perhaps better than anyone. Data is the fuel keeping governments operating. It powers countless citizen services such as utility payments, police and fire dispatch systems, public transportation and the ability to field citizen requests and inquiries. </p> <p>As data continues to grow in volume and complexity, governments need strong processes and technology in place to <strong>ensure they can protect, manage and access their data anytime, anywhere</strong>. That includes protecting constantly changing data assets and movement across hybrid cloud environments.</p> <p>In addition, governments are increasingly becoming a prime target for malicious cyberattacks, including ransomware, which can restrict access to critical systems and data until a payment is made — making it impossible for governments to access the data they need to operate effectively.</p> <p>Given these challenges, <strong>modern backup is essential</strong>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Texas' CIO credits good governance with smooth ransomware recovery in a discussion at NASCIO 2019.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">Flash Storage Can Help Agencies Rapidly Restore Data</h2> <p>State and local governments are required to keep a large amount of data for a significant length of time, sometimes indefinitely. A standard process for many governments is to back up to tape or virtual tape libraries based on spinning disks, then conduct restore tests a few times a year — a process that could take days or even weeks — and hope they never actually have to do it for real.</p> <p>The restore side of the equation<strong> typically has been addressed with much less urgency than the backup itself</strong>. But in today’s world, when <a href="" target="_blank">a ransomware attack can restrict access to all data in a provider’s environment</a>, governments cannot afford to wait for hours or days to restore their systems. <strong>Data must be usable, and rapid restore is critical;</strong> it can’t be locked on a tape, in a warehouse or on a slow spinning disk. Any delay can affect critical workflows that support citizen services.</p> <p>In most state and local IT environments, applications, data silos and interfaces have multiplied in the wake of digital transformation driven by the demand for technology-based solutions and services. Consequently, most data backup scenarios include <strong>multipoint solutions and appliances that create significant complexity</strong>, making it difficult to assess data protection efforts and predict data recovery performance.</p> <p>Outside of government, some progressive organizations are<strong> turning to flash storage for primary storage and backup, particularly for mission-critical applications such as virtual desktop infrastructure</strong>. The performance and availability benefits offered in production and backup environments can provide significant improvements in efficiency and citizen services. What’s more, with the right solution in place, flash technology can deliver reductions in total cost of ownership for governments of all sizes.</p> <p>As analytics and artificial intelligence gain traction in government, flash storage — and the rapid restore it enables — also creates a new opportunity to <strong>use data for purposes beyond security or disaster recovery.</strong> Examples of this already exist. Chatbots on agency websites now answer increasingly complex questions and execute customer assistance tasks that previously drained employee resources and hours. It’s meant fewer calls to government agencies and more valuable staff hours available for other tasks.</p> <p>To support this rapid restore and secondary use, state and local governments need an appliance that is not purpose-built for just one function. An <strong>all-flash platform</strong> provides a strong option, as it can be used as a data hub, enabling both a modern backup environment and the exploration of secondary uses of the data that may have far-reaching benefits across cities and states.</p> <p>Let’s remember that in today’s complex environment, backup is a great start — but it’s not enough as data volumes continue to balloon and malicious actors loom. <strong>Rapid restore is critical to backup success</strong>, and flash storage provides a powerful means for ensuring data accessibility and usability at a moment’s notice.</p> Gary Newgaard AI Use Poised to Grow in State Government, Survey Finds <p>For most state governments, the use of artificial intelligence is more of an aspiration than a reality, according to a survey from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. </p> <p>In August 2019, the Center for Digital Government and NASCIO, with support from <a href="" target="_blank">IBM</a>, surveyed CIOs’ motivations, plans and deterrents for AI adoption. The survey, “<a href="" target="_blank">Delivering on Digital Government: Achieving the Promise of Artificial Intelligence</a>,” yielded responses from 45 states. The primary respondents were CIOs and their deputies, CTOs and selected agency heads.</p> <p>According to the recently released report,<strong> just 1 percent</strong> of those surveyed said AI was widely used across their state. Meanwhile, <strong>19 percent</strong> of those surveyed said they were piloting AI; <strong>13 percent </strong>were using AI but not in “core lines of business”; <strong>31 percent</strong> were engaged in pilots or proof-of-concept trials; and <strong>24 percent</strong> were evaluating proposals. Additionally, <strong>12 percent </strong>of those surveyed said they were not using or planning to use AI. </p> <p>Despite that, <strong>49 percent</strong> of survey respondents see AI as “a powerful tool to analyze the large volumes of new and existing information collected across state departments and agencies,” the report states.</p> <p>The report defines AI as “digital technology that draws insights from large volumes of data and may apply domain expertise, such as case management policies and IT troubleshooting knowledge, to improve decision-making and predict future outcomes.”</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Find out how AI will free security pros from menial tasks. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">Current Use Cases for AI in State Government</h2> <p>State CIOs<strong> see chatbots and digital assistants as “low-hanging fruit” </strong>that can deliver quick benefits for help desks and other areas, according to the report. “This will have a significant impact on how we staff our call centers in the future,” Utah CTO David Fletcher says in the report.</p> <p>State officials are drawn to AI and related technologies such as machine learning and robotic process automation in part because they “promise help in addressing rapidly evolving operational requirements and citizen expectations.” Indeed,<strong> 79 percent</strong> of survey respondents say they lack the resources to keep up with the demands of modern government, with <strong>32 percent </strong>of that group “strongly” agreeing with that statement. </p> <p>Texas CIO Todd Kimbriel says in the report that “states are beyond implementing e-government” and are “working toward <strong>digital government by digitizing backend data systems and automating the legacy, manual processes </strong>that are in place today. The digital assistant is a key way to demonstrate the benefits that come with digital government once we fully automate a resource.”</p> <p>According to the survey, among respondents whose agencies currently use AI, <strong>19 percent use it in IT, 15 percent in cybersecurity, 14 percent in transportation and infrastructure, 11 percent in health and human services, and 7 percent use AI</strong> to enhance the citizen experience. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>VIDEO: </strong>State CIOs discuss how AI will impact Big Data analysis. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_1">How States Plan to Use AI in the Future</h2> <p>Looking ahead, survey respondents see AI making the biggest impact in <strong>cybersecurity (78 percent); fraud, waste and abuse detection and management (75 percent); and improving citizen-facing digital services (72 percent).</strong></p> <p>“Many state leaders point to chronic underfunding for cybersecurity initiatives or the fact that they lack cybersecurity talent,” the report states. “Looking forward, more states may turn to AI and machine learning to detect and mitigate cybersecurity threats. </p> <p>A growing number of government organizations are already using the technologies to<strong> detect anomalies in network traffic</strong> and prioritize alerts from log data to assign security resources effectively.”</p> <p>AI is helping North Carolina’s IT security staff <strong>quickly analyze the thousands of possible security threats</strong> that arise throughout the state’s agencies each day to identify the fraction that require immediate action, the report says. “With AI, we can narrow the tickets down to a manageable number,” North Carolina CIO Eric Boyette says in the report.</p> <p>Delaware CIO James Collins says he envisions states being able to use AI not only to identify fraud in their health care systems, but also to improve patient outcomes. </p> <p>“I saw the potential of this when Delaware recently launched its claims database,” he says in the report. “For now, it’s being used to respond to specific requests from agency customers. But when we combine such a large database with AI, I see the chance to better manage or even eliminate certain illnesses by analyzing therapies, treatments and outcomes. That’s how powerful AI could be when used appropriately.”</p> <p>Fully <strong>64 percent </strong>see AI having an impact on traffic management. Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers thinks AI can help with smart city transportation initiatives. His state’s transportation department and other state agencies are collaborating to create a central information exchange using data from sources throughout the state to help predict changing traffic patterns and other transportation trends, according to the report. </p> <p>The report notes that “smart city and traffic optimization strategies have been attractive testbeds for new ways to capitalize on large volumes of data and advanced analytics.” </p> <p>AI can even help with public safety on roadways. Utah’s transportation department is piloting a program to apply machine learning to video feeds from cameras mounted along freeways. </p> <p>“The goal is to use machine learning to<strong> detect accidents and then automatically dispatch responders</strong> to the locations as soon as the accidents occur,” says Utah’s Fletcher.</p> Phil Goldstein How Smart Cities Are Deploying Edge Computing <p>In cities across the country, more <strong>computing and data processing happen at the network edge</strong>, where devices and users are located. Smart cities are starting to embrace edge computing, which enables faster data analysis and thus delivers insights in a more timely and relevant way.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Gartner reported</a> in 2018 that around <strong>10 percent </strong>of enterprise-generated data was created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. Gartner projected by 2025 this figure is expected to<strong> jump to 75 percen</strong>t. </p> <p><strong>Edge computing </strong>allows agencies to take the power of the cloud all the way to the network edge, especially to areas where they have not been able to use it before. Agencies can perform data analytics and processing and gain insights at the edge before routing that data back to centralized data centers for further analysis. </p> <p>Cities are even using edge computing to <strong>drive innovation in their smart city deployments</strong>. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH:</strong> What are best practices for smart city success?</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">How Pittsburgh Is Using Edge Computing</h2> <p>Cities are increasingly deploying cloud computing solutions, but now must deploy and manage devices and network assets all the way out to the network edge. That includes many <strong>Internet of Things sensors at the heart of smart cities platforms</strong>, monitoring traffic data, infrastructure, water levels and other environmental factors. </p> <p>Rather than being sent to a single centralized data center, edge computing data goes to a nearby “cloudlet,” which is essentially a small data center that may consist of a single rack of computers in a closet or a small disk drive in a vehicle that employs multilatency, elasticity and other cloud computing features.</p> <p>Edge computing is about “getting smarter sensors, smarter data and that compute capacity closer to the data so you can <strong>get better insights as this data is traversing your network</strong> into what might ultimately be an enterprise cloud,” Cameron Chehreh, COO and CTO of <a href="" target="_blank">Dell EMC Federal</a>, tells <em>FedTech</em>.</p> <p>Cities are using edge computing to push smart city technology forward. For example, Carnegie Mellon University’s <a href="" target="_blank">Living Edge Lab</a> uses Pittsburgh, where CMU is located, as a test bed for <strong>exploring edge computing and applications that generate large volumes of data</strong> and require intense processing with nearly instantaneous response times. </p> <p>Antennas positioned throughout the city are connected via fiber optics to a cloudlet in the lab, which can be tapped into by signals from mobile devices in those areas. </p> <p>Last year, the Living Edge Lab and <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> <a href="" target="_blank">announced a two-year agreement</a> to drive innovation in edge computing. Under the partnership, Microsoft provides the lab with edge computing hardware and software centered on the company’s <a href="" target="_blank">Azure</a> offering. Microsoft also supplies Azure credits, which grant the Living Edge Lab <strong>access to cloud services like artificial intelligence, IoT, storage and more</strong>. <a href="" target="_blank">Intel</a>, which already is associated with the lab, also contributes technology. </p> Matt Parnofiello States Take Flight to Survey Disaster Damage with Federal Assistance <p>At the state level, drone programs are rapidly diversifying to help agencies meet increasing citizen<strong> demand for up-to-date information and assessment, particularly after a natural disaster</strong>.</p> <p>According to James Pearce, communications officer for the <a href="" target="_blank">North Carolina Department of Transportation</a> (NCDOT), the agency now leverages a dozen drones to help identify potential infrastructure concerns. He notes that “drones are great for picking out rusted rivets or sinkholes,” and are also used for public communications, such as <strong>video fly-bys of newly completed bridge construction projects</strong>. </p> <p>Drones do have some limitations — Pearce notes that anything more than a light drizzle and 20-mile-per-hour winds will ground these airborne assessors — but they were widely used in North Carolina after hurricanes Florence and Dorian, <strong>flying more than 200 missions and capturing over 8,000 pictures across half of all state counties</strong>. Although clearing skies and mild weather gave the impression of stable infrastructure, post-hurricane flooding was a significant concern, with swollen rivers spilling into towns and onto highways. Here, drones were used to capture the situation in progress and encourage citizens to remain indoors. </p> <p>Technological advancements — such as <a href="" target="_blank">smaller, lighter drones</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">enhanced AI algorithms</a> — are driving federal, state and municipal-level aviation adoption to <strong>address potential infrastructure attack vectors, assess emergency response and analyze traffic and weather patterns</strong>. Drones offer a way to elevate operational impact within the framework of existing budgets. From attack simulation to infrastructure inspection and emergency evaluation, unmanned flight carries the potential for unparalleled response.</p> Doug Bonderud How Smart Cities Can Improve Services via Optical Sensor Tech <p>In smart cities, <a href="">connected intersections</a> and <a href="">traffic sensors</a> are critical pieces of infrastructure. They can have a large impact on improving traffic flows and reducing congestion and pollution, all of which improve quality of life, resident safety and have the potential to boost economic activity and productivity. Such sensors can also improve pedestrian safety and save lives, <a href="">as Portland, Ore.</a>, and <a href="">many other cities hope to do</a>.</p> <p>To make the best use of such systems, <strong>cities need data on traffic patterns and road congestion</strong>. What if they could get access to such data without physical inspections, putting in new infrastructure or tearing up streets? They might soon be able to. </p> <p>A recent proof-of-concept field trial from Verizon and <a href="" target="_blank">NEC</a> demonstrated the ability “to use network infrastructure with existing fiber-optic cables already laid in the ground as <strong>distributed optical sensors</strong> to collect information on city<strong> traffic patterns, road conditions, road capacity, and vehicle classification information</strong>,” <a href="" target="_blank">according to a Verizon press release</a>.</p> <p>Verizon plans to expand its trial of the technology and is considering how it can be used in smart cities. The goal would be to allow “existing fiber providers to deliver smart city traffic-related data without tearing up roads or sidewalks,” <a href="" target="_blank">as Light Reading reports</a>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Find out how intelligent transportation systems save cities money.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">Verizon Uses AI Software to Turn Fiber Cables into Traffic Sensors</h2> <p>Verizon and NEC used new optical sensor technology developed by NEC and <strong>combined it with artificial intelligence-based software</strong> to create an “intelligent traffic monitoring including the measurement of vehicle density, direction, speed, acceleration, deceleration and more,” the Verizon release notes. </p> <p>In the past, companies and cities had to lay purpose-built fiber in very shallow spaces in the ground with fiber grating at predetermined intervals to gather and synthesize this type of data, according to Verizon. The solution allows cities to <strong>gather that information using fiber already in the ground</strong>. </p> <p>“This new technology could lead to or improve other solutions that support public functions such as helping first responders detect and respond to gun shots and enhancing municipalities’ ability to more quickly and efficiently identify earlier deterioration of bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure,” Verizon notes. </p> <p>The trial showcased a fiber sensing system that coexisted with existing Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) communication channels on the same fiber. The trial, according to Verizon, represents “the first time and longest distance that such sensing data has been<strong> collected through an operational telecom network</strong>.”</p> <p>AI tools such as convolutional neural networks and software vector machines were used to leverage distributed intelligent traffic informatics.</p> <p>“Utilizing just a single integrated interrogator, the distributed multi-parameter sensor system evaluated various properties of back-scattering light, which can be used to derive the static strain, dynamic strain, acoustics, vibrations and temperatures for each fiber segment,” according to Verizon. “This allows users to identify detected signatures and to translate those back-scattering signals into actionable information over a wide range of area previously unattainable by conventional sensors.”</p> <p>The upshot is that Verizon and NEC were able to show <strong>existing fiber networks</strong> not built for sensing purposes can be used to <strong>“generate valuable new data and to automatically analyze various environments.”</strong></p> <p>“It’s different from most point-sensors in that I can only sense one particular spot, and I can’t really change it. Here I can measure anywhere along that fiber,” Glenn Wellbrock, Verizon's director of optical transport network architecture, design and planning, <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Government Technology</em> in October</a>. </p> <p>“And we saw that we could <strong>measure not only the number of cars, but how fast they were going, and to some degree, how big they were</strong>,” said Wellbrock. </p> <p>“We’ve taken that to our product folks and having them think more about, what can we do with this from a smart city perspective?” he said. </p> <p>Verizon expects to have a more extensive trial in place by the end of 2019. “We do want to move this out to a field trial, if you will. I would call the one we did more proof-of-concept,” Wellbrock told <em>GovTech</em>. “We want to move it more into a trial environment. Again, more real-word data, if you will.”</p> Phil Goldstein How AR Firefighting Masks Improve Situational Awareness <p>A firefighter rushing into a burning building to save those trapped inside must contend with a variety of factors: intense heat, billowing smoke, communications from a commander and other firefighters, calls for help from those inside. Most firefighters would likely welcome any <strong>new fire technology</strong> that can make their job easier and help save lives faster, and <strong>augmented reality helmets</strong> and masks could fit the bill.</p> <p><a href="">Drones can help provide fire departments</a> with information about fires by feeding them live video from above an incident. However, they are of limited use when firefighters are actually on the scene and need to enter a structure. </p> <p>Fire departments are starting to test out <strong>AR helmets and masks</strong> to give them <strong>greater situational awareness</strong>.</p> <p>Augmented reality — in which digital information is overlaid onto a view of the real world via a headset, glasses or smartphone — can help first responders get information about the location they are moving through, providing structural layouts and even showing where doorframes and people are in smoke-filled environments. AR helmets and masks can also help with training. </p> <p>Further, AR technology can help firefighters navigate out of buildings too, which can t<strong>ruly be lifesaving</strong>. </p> <p>“Injuries and fatalities occur, sometimes within two or three feet of an actual exit,” Menlo Park Fire Technology Specialist Mike Ralston <a href="" target="_blank">told CBS News</a>, “simply because they can't see, they can't find an exit that's right next to them.”</p> <p>Menlo Park Battalion Chief Tom Calvert added: “Most firefighters who die inside of buildings, that’s where we get lost and trapped. <strong>I don't want to overuse the ‘game-changing' phrase for this technology, but it is, it truly is</strong>.”</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Discover the operational benefits of cutting-edge public safety tech. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">What Is an AR Mask and How Does It Help Fight Fires?</h2> <p>Firefighters have recently started carrying thermal vision cameras with them into burning buildings to help them see through flames and smoke. However, the drawback of these technologies is that they do not permit firefighters to operate with their hands free. </p> <p>“Current imaging solutions require the first responder to stop, divert their attention to a small screen and try to remember hazards in a complex scene,” <a href="" target="_blank">notes Qwake</a>, a startup AR firefighting mask firm that is developing a technology dubbed C-Thru. “Due to the rapid deterioration of cognitive abilities in high-stress hazardous environments, these solutions are ineffective.” </p> <p>AR masks and helmets <strong>attach thermal imaging cameras inside the mask or helmet</strong>. They then use computer vision via a computer module to take in thermal images and bring them directly into the firefighter’s field of vision inside the mask. </p> <p>“It can be pitch black in broad daylight inside a home with all the lights on,” Kirk McKinzie, captain and technologist for Cosumnes CSD Fire Department in Elk Grove, just south of Sacramento, Calif., <a href="" target="_blank">tells CNET</a>. “I’ve been unable to see my hand in front of my face many times.” </p> <p>McKinzie tested C-Thru back in 2017 and was impressed with the technology. “Where there is darkness, C-Thru brings light,” McKinzie says. <strong>“The comparison equivalent is like night and day.”</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Find out how 5G network slicing technology can benefit public safety. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_1">How AR Firefighter Helmets Help with Training</h2> <p>Augmented reality technology can help firefighters <strong>improve training ahead of actual emergency calls.</strong> AR helps to train firefighters to navigate locations and look for digital beacons in smoke-filled environments that are created digitally. It can also help commanders provide real-time feedback for how firefighters are engaging with the training scenario.</p> <p>First responder training methods have stayed largely unchanged for decades despite the emergence of new technologies, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Shared Reality Lab at McGill University</a>. “This is due in large part to the learning curve associated with any new technology as well as the problem of relying on a complex system that is more prone to malfunction than the simple tools already used,” the lab notes. “Many advantages of new technology are currently being ignored for these two reasons.”</p> <p>The lab produced a project, Augmented Reality Tools for Improved Training of First Responders, which <a href="" target="_blank">won a US Ignite award in 2014</a>. Although the project used Google Glass and not a specialized AR firefighting mask, the benefits of the use of AR in training for firefighter response seem to be analogous. </p> <p>Part of the project’s aim is to provide first responders with <strong>training scenario information through a hands-free, heads-up display</strong>.</p> <p>“This would let the responders visualize the path they have followed and allow for <strong>display of virtual beacons that indicate important positions or objects in the environment</strong>,” the lab says. “It would also allow the coordinators to offer real-time guidance, as needed, for example, prompting the responder with the recommended search pattern. Coordinators could also modify the training scenario at any point to introduce appropriate challenges.”</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM STATETECH: </strong>Find out how EMS agencies use tablets to achieve their missions in the field. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_2">What Firefighting AR Masks Are on the Market?</h2> <p>There are several AR masks or helmets for firefighters that are on the market. <strong>Qwake’s C-Thru</strong> is probably the most prominent, and it features thermal imaging, edge detection and toxicity sensors, as well as livestreaming. </p> <p>Another option is <a href="" target="_blank">3M</a>’s <a href="" target="_blank">Scott Sight In-Mask Thermal Imager</a>, which uses a small thermal camera mounted to the side of the mask. “A miniaturized display mounted inside the facepiece allows the firefighter to always see the image without the need for reaching down and handling an imager,” the company notes. The camera <strong>“projects a small thermal image inside the mask, at nine frames per second,”</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">CNN Business reports</a>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Epson</a> and <a href=";ln=2&amp;b=dji&amp;key=Drone&amp;enkwrd=dji+drones" target="_blank">DJI Enterprise</a> partnered late last year with the Menlo Park Fire Department in California to test their technologies. Using DJI drones and <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">Epson Moverio</a> <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">AR smart glasses</a>, the firefighters conducted an experiment to get a bird’s eye view of a fire scene beamed into the glasses. Though not, strictly speaking, a mask, the AR glasses combined with the drone allow firefighters to help their fellow first responders <strong>navigate the terrain from a safe, remote location and warn them of any dangers</strong>, <a href="" target="_blank">Next Reality notes</a>. That can improve operational efficiency, including for search and rescue, and improve the safety of firefighters and civilians.</p> <h2 id="toc_3">How Much Does an Augmented Reality Firefighting Mask Cost?</h2> <p>Qwake CEO Sam Cossman <a href="" target="_blank">told CBS</a> in late 2018 that his company’s device was still at least a year away from being commercially available to fire departments. However, he said he expects it will cost less than the $4,000 to $6,000 fire departments currently spend on each two-way radio they deploy. </p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">CBS Boston</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">FireRescue1</a>, 3M’s Scott Sight costs $1,500 for the mask and thermal imaging camera. According to FireRescue1, $1,900 buys the mask, thermal imaging camera and a self-contained breathing apparatus harness. The site notes that a standard mask sells for about $400. Epson Moverio’s AR glasses can be purchased for around $700.</p> Phil Goldstein States and Feds Team Up to Protect Energy Grid from Cyberattacks <p>In the <a href="" target="_blank">Grid Security Exercise series</a> led by the <strong>North American Electric Reliability Corporation</strong>, the U.S. electric grid faces simulated attacks, including cyberattacks.</p> <p>NERC, nonprofits, energy suppliers and the military all take part in the exercises. GridEx also includes corporate partners (such as <a href="" target="_blank">AT&amp;T</a>) that provide <a href="" target="_blank">specialized software solutions</a> to protect energy infrastructure built to comply with the <a href="" target="_blank">U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework</a>. </p> <p>But perhaps the most important partners that participate in exercises like GridEx V, which took place last week, are the <strong>state and local jurisdictions</strong> where critical infrastructure targets are located. The <a href="" target="_blank">West Virginia National Guard Critical Infrastructure Protection Battalion</a> is among the state groups participating in GridEx exercises. <strong>Maj. William Keber</strong>, the battalion’s executive officer, says that the group’s role is to “analyze energy sector concerns that impact government facilities and operations.” </p> <p>In February, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held <a href="" target="_blank">a hearing on cybersecurity efforts in the energy industry</a>. The West Virginia National Guard Critical Infrastructure Protection Battalion described its efforts to <strong>assess cybersecurity infrastructure</strong> and train thousands of employees from the departments of Energy, Defense, Transportation and Homeland Security.</p> <p>“Since inception, our teams have conducted 3,583 assessments and 2,662 training events, educating 59,237 individuals as of January 2019,” Keber testified then.</p> <p>The increasingly interconnected nature of vital systems means an ever-expanding landscape of threats, and energy infrastructure is emerging as <strong>one of the most critical intersections of vulnerability and risk</strong>, requiring state and federal cooperation to mitigate emerging threats such as cyberattacks. </p> <p>The West Virginia National Guard recognizes the importance of information sharing in protecting the nation’s energy infrastructure from cyberattack, Keber says. “We realize that professional exchanges of best practices are an effective way to <strong>foster relationships</strong> between our organization and civilian organizations,” he says.</p> Tristan Willis