StateTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Government en Smart Cities Connect 2020: Houston Emphasizes Resilience in Pandemic Solutions <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">city of Houston</a> has found opportunities to apply smart city solutions to the pandemic, panelists told online attendees at the <a href="" target="_blank">Smart Cities Connect Virtual Conference and Expo</a> Tuesday.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Houston Director of Innovation Jesse Bounds</a> spotlighted a specific application in which the city has deployed a new wastewater testing solution for early detection of COVID-19 in communities. When the city identifies the presence of the virus in neighborhood wastewater samples, it can focus its contact tracing and prevention efforts in those areas, Bounds said.</p> <p>"It targets efforts better," he said. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Sameer Sharma</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Intel</a>’s global general manager of new markets, smart cities and transportation for IOT solutions, agreed. He quipped, “I have never been so excited about wastewater treatment and the intelligence and the data that can come with it.”</p> <p>Intel worked with Houston to identify readily available technologies that would assist with the sampling and analysis of wastewater, Sharma said. With this support, Houston can determine aggregate levels of infection in specific areas.</p> Mickey McCarter What Will Remote Government Work Look Like Over the Long Term? <p>In the U.S., it has now been more than seven months since state governments first locked down to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. State and local governments responded by rapidly <a href="" target="_blank">setting up secure telework arrangements</a> for government workers so that citizen services could continue uninterrupted.</p> <p>However, as the autumn progresses and 2021 comes into view, government IT leaders need to start thinking about what kind of work setups they want for the long term — and how to properly support such an arrangement, especially from an IT resource perspective.</p> <p>Some agencies are going to remain entirely remote. Others are going to shift to a hybrid model, in which users work from home a few days per week and come into the office otherwise. IT leaders need to consider how those arrangements will play out practically, because users are demanding more flexibility now that they’ve been in telework mode for so long.</p> <p>“Ninety-eight percent said they love remote work or are fine with it,” Washington State CIO Jim Weaver said during a virtual conference in late September, <a href="" target="_blank">StateScoop reports</a>. “Two percent said they hate it — those are the extroverts — and 75 percent said they wish this would be a permanent thing for them.”</p> Sammy Calhoun California Unveils Strategy to Help Navigate Data Landscape <p>California’s <a href="" target="_blank">open data portal</a> contains a multitude of data sets, including COVID-19 hospital data, sea level rise maps and areas in the state deemed suitable for affordable housing development. Now, the Golden State has a strategy to govern all of the data it collects.</p> <p>On Oct. 1, California published its <a href="" target="_blank">statewide data strategy</a> to help evaluate the effectiveness of state programs. California Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro sees the plan as a way to connect the state’s various data collection efforts — and to see what is and isn’t working.</p> <p>“A well-written strategy serves not only as glue and alignment but also as a filter,” she writes in <a href="" target="_blank">a Medium post</a> explaining her decision to craft the strategy. “If a project isn’t well-aligned with the strategy, you know to avoid or minimize it.”</p> <p>In a separate <a href="" target="_blank">message announcing the strategy</a>, she notes that governments are tasked with managing enormously complex problems, including education, balancing public safety with social justice and providing services to vulnerable citizens.</p> <p>“This means that we cannot afford to guess how well our services are working,” Bonaguro writes in the announcement. “The lives of Californians depend on us knowing what works and what doesn’t. Good use of data is the tool we can use to navigate that complexity and ensure that our programs and services are working well for all Californians.”</p> Phil Goldstein Cornell Works on Public Internet of Things Network in New York <p>A group of researchers at Cornell University are aiming to bridge the digital divide in New York state with a program that will set up an Internet of Things network from New York City to counties upstate on the Canadian border.</p> <p>The National Science Foundation awarded <a href=";HistoricalAwards=false" target="_blank">a $1.5 million grant</a> in August to Cornell engineers and researchers. They will work with community partners in each county around New York through the <a href="" target="_blank">Cornell Cooperative Extension</a>. The CCE is a network of independent associations located in each county in the state and the five boroughs of New York City that work with local communities to translate research into practical projects through data-based programs and services.</p> <p>Under the grant, the CCE will set up networks based on low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) technology, which can <a href="">support long-range wireless technology</a>. The goal is to have the network help close the digital divide between the state’s urban and rural communities. The network will be constructed on a county-by-county basis and then the pieces of infrastructure will be connected to each other.</p> <p>“We aim to create a public Internet of Things model that works here and then becomes replicable for other states,” Max Zhang, a professor in Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, <a href="" target="_blank">tells the Cornell Chronicle</a>. “We want to provide universal network coverage, ensure data privacy, promote responsible data-sharing, scale up successful Internet of Things implementations and spur technology innovation in underserved areas.”</p> Phil Goldstein States Have Improved Election Cybersecurity, but Still Can Do More <p>After more than a year of <a href="" target="_blank">preparations and security enhancements</a>, state and local governments are entering the final weeks of the 2020 election season. With millions of votes already cast, two things are clear: Government agencies have markedly improved their cybersecurity controls in the wake of the 2016 election, and yet they could still be doing more and cannot let their guards down.</p> <p>Outside experts say that state governments, especially those in battleground states, have improved their cybersecurity protections for election infrastructure and voter data. However, there are still cybersecurity measures they should be taking ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is continuing to coordinate with state and local agencies on election security threats, especially from nation-state actors and cybercriminals. CISA is confident in election security protections that have been put in place but remains on high alert.</p> Phil Goldstein NASCIO 2020: What We Learned About State Government IT <p>Due to the coronavirus pandemic, state CIOs, CISOs and CTOs were unable to gather in person for the 2020 NASCIO annual conference. However, we were able to speak with several throughout the conference about the key trends they are confronting, from remote work to cybersecurity, and the IT investments they want to make. Here are the key takeaways from the virtual NASCIO 2020 annual conference.</p> <p>Check out more of our coverage from <a href="" target="_blank">NASCIO 2020 here</a>.</p> NASCIO 2020: The Rapid Rise of Digital Services <p>With state governments closing physical offices and discouraging citizens from gathering in large numbers during the coronavirus pandemic, many government services have moved online. Will the shift to digital services be an enduring one? We spoke virtually with IT leaders from across the country during the NASCIO 2020 annual conference about how they have increased their use of digital services. </p> <p>Check out more of our coverage from <a href="" target="_blank">NASCIO 2020 here</a>.</p> NASCIO 2020: States Boost Cybersecurity Collaboration with Local Partners <p>State governments have had to increase their cybersecurity efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, but so have their counterparts at the county and local level. That has led to closer cooperation between states and their partners at other levels of government. We spoke with IT leaders from across the country virtually during the NASCIO 2020 annual conference about how they are enhancing those partnerships. </p> <p>Check out more of our coverage from <a href="" target="_blank">NASCIO 2020 here</a>.</p> NASCIO 2020: Vigilant States Adopt Emerging Tech for Citizen Services <p>Many states face a missed opportunity, as two-thirds of them lack policies or procedures regarding the use of emerging technology, notes a new report from the <a href="" target="_blank">National Association of State Chief Information Officers</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">EY</a>.</p> <p>Released Thursday during the NASCIO 2020 Annual Conference, the report, titled “<a href="" target="_blank">How Will the Power of Emerging Technology Help Reframe Your Future?</a>” notes that the pandemic has provided some states with openings to deploy emerging technologies in support of citizen services.</p> <p>“The pandemic pushed emerging technology into mainstream and now AI, RPA and virtual assistants or chatbots are preparing to take center stage. In five years, emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), autonomous vehicles, blockchain and quantum computing could emerge while others cycle and enter the mainstream,” the report notes.</p> Mickey McCarter NASCIO 2020: The Pandemic’s Effect on IT Priorities <p>The coronavirus pandemic has upended state budgets, and government IT projects have been affected as part of that. Some investments have been accelerated and others have been put on hold, but the pandemic has highlighted the value of technology to elected officials and government agency leaders. We spoke virtually with IT leaders from across the country during the NASCIO 2020 annual conference about how their IT investment plans have evolved as the pandemic has unfolded. </p> <p>Check out more of our coverage from <a href="" target="_blank">NASCIO 2020 here</a>.</p>