StateTech - Technology Solutions That Drive Government en Florida Takes Steps to Bolster Election Security <span>Florida Takes Steps to Bolster Election Security</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Fri, 08/17/2018 - 12:17</span> <div><p>At the Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas last week, <a href="" target="_blank">an 11-year-old boy was able to hack a Florida state election website</a> and change voting results on the page — in under 10 minutes. <a href="" target="_blank">Florida election officials contend</a> that the real website for <a href="" target="_blank">the Florida Department of State</a> is a much more secure.</p> <p>The episode puts a spotlight on election security in the Sunshine State, the epicenter of the 2000 presidential election recount and a perennial swing state. <a href="" target="_blank">In June</a>, the state received <strong>$19.2 million</strong> in federal grants to boost cybersecurity in advance of Florida’s Aug. 28 primary election and the general election on Nov. 6. Then, in July, the state legislature <a href="" target="_blank">granted Secretary of State Ken Detzner authority to spend the money</a>.</p> <p>Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that the DOS had <strong>approved Election Security Grant applications for all 67 Florida counties</strong>, <a href="" target="_blank">totaling $15.45 million</a>, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Space Coast Daily</em> reports</a>.</p> <p>Some counties are already taking advantage of the funds to <strong>harden existing defenses and purchase new equipment</strong>. Meanwhile, <a href="" target="_blank">the University of West Florida’s Center for Cybersecurity</a> is now offering election security training to Florida state and county cybersecurity personnel.</p> <p>“As we approach the 2018 election season, there is nothing more important than ensuring the security and integrity of Florida’s elections,” Scott said last week, according to <em>Space Coast Daily</em>. “In Florida, we are focused on 100 percent participation and zero fraud, and this additional funding will help Supervisors of Elections build on their existing infrastructure and enhance security measures so that we can ensure Florida has another successful election in 2018.”</p> <h2>Florida Counties Get More Funding for Election Cybersecurity</h2> <p>The director of the state Division of Elections, Maria Matthews, said last month that the money can be used for <strong>physical security, cybersecurity, voting system upgrades, post-election audits and risk assessment audits</strong>, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the <em>Tampa Bay Times</em></a>.</p> <p>Some counties with larger populations are naturally getting more money. Miami-Dade County will receive <strong>$1.6 million</strong>, Broward will get<strong> $1.2 million</strong>, Hillsborough <strong>$814,000</strong>, Pinellas <strong>$666,000</strong>, Pasco <strong>$349,000</strong> and Hernando<strong> $163,000</strong>, the <em>Tampa Bay Times</em> adds.</p> <p>Notably, Detzner said county election supervisors cannot use the new funds to hire their own cybersecurity experts, calling that “duplicative” of the state’s existing election security efforts.</p> <p>“I don’t think they need some,” Detzner said in July, the <em>Times</em> reports. “I think that they ought to have their own in-house cyberspecialists, like we hope to. But no, they don’t really need their own. They can use ours. That’s what the purpose was, to support the supervisors … I think it would be duplicative and I think they should use the resources that we're making available to them.”</p> <h2>Gulf and Palm Beach Counties Start to Step Up Election Defenses</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Gulf County</a> Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon says the county’s election system firewalls have almost daily contact with malicious actors searching for any vulnerabilities.</p> <p>“None of them are successful, but <strong>every day we have IP addresses bounce off the firewall</strong>, people looking for a weakness, anywhere that is vulnerable,” <a href="" target="_blank">Hanlon tells <em>The Star</em></a>.</p> <p>Cybersecurity is “on the forefront of every supervisor’s mind,” Hanlon adds.</p> <p>Gulf County is going to use the nearly $61,000 it received in grant money to harden systems it already has in place, Hanlon says. “This money will allow us to harden our systems even more than they are. We had to submit a plan, and while they didn’t fund all of our plan, they funded most of it. We want to make our systems even harder.”</p> <p>Specifically, according to <em>The Star</em>, the extra funds will help Gulf County with <strong>real-time tracking of voter information and provide additional firewall protection and a server to monitor all electronic traffic within the office</strong>. Further, the county will use a multifactor identification system to protect workstations. In short, anyone “getting into the building would have another level of security to access a work station,” Hanlon notes.</p> <p>Meanwhile, in <a href="" target="_blank">Palm Beach County</a>, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher has used some of the county’s extra <strong>$909,513 i</strong>n election funding to order 1,750 updated <a href="" target="_blank">Apple</a> <a href=";ctlgfilter=&amp;searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">iPad Minis</a> with the latest Apple security patches. The county will use the tablets to check in voters at the polls in the November election, according to the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Palm Beach Post</em></a>.</p> <p>Bucher says the county’s elections office works with an FBI agent and an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security who are assigned to the area. The iPads’ internet connection is behind Palm Beach County’s firewall, which is monitored by DHS, Bucher tells the <em>Post</em>.</p> <p>For extra security measures, votes are filled out on paper, election equipment is not connected to the internet, and the county elections office performs audits after elections. the <em>Post</em> reports. Bucher says<strong> iPads are individually licensed, encrypted and downloaded with the voter database</strong>. “So, if someone wanted to hack the voter database, they’d have to attack each Mini iPad separately,” Bucher tells the <em>Post</em>.</p> <h2>State Partners with University of West Florida on Election Security</h2> <p>Since March, the University of West Florida has been working with the state to <strong>bolster the state government’s general </strong><strong>cybersecurity</strong><strong> training curriculum</strong>. It now supports been county election supervisors and county IT and security staff, Eman El-Sheikh, the center’s director, <a href="" target="_blank">tells StateScoop</a>.</p> <p>The publication reports:</p> <blockquote><p>The election security training started in June is comprised of the Center’s “<a href="" target="_blank">Cybersecurity for All</a>” curriculum and operations based out of the Florida Cyber Range, which is the Center’s multi-use cybersecurity range open to academia, industry and Florida state government entities. Election supervisors, IT staff and officials from Florida's Department of State sat in on the June training sessions, which covered a range of topics from why cybersecurity is important and its potential impact on election systems to identifying and remedying different types of threats, including malware, phishing, web-based attacks and denial-of-service attacks.</p> </blockquote> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/phil-goldstein"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Phil Goldstein" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/phil-goldstein"> <div>Phil Goldstein</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=philgoldstein&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Phil Goldstein is a web editor for <em>FedTech</em> and <em>BizTech</em>. Besides keeping up with the latest in technology trends, he is also an avid lover of the New York Yankees, poetry, photography, traveling and escaping humidity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 16:17:23 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41266 at Baltimore to Undertake Major IT Modernization Program <span>Baltimore to Undertake Major IT Modernization Program</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Thu, 08/16/2018 - 11:42</span> <div><p>Baltimore has big plans when it comes to its technology future.</p> <p>Late last month, the city released <a href=" Strategic Plan Final 7.10.18.pdf" target="_blank">its first-ever strategic plan for IT</a>, laying out its vision for how to<strong> “transform the city’s digital infrastructure, empower everyone in our community with technology and grow Baltimore’s tech industry and workforce,”</strong> in the words of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.</p> <p>The plan, <a href="" target="_blank">which arrived in draft form in February</a>, has been reviewed and signed off by the city council and City Hall, has five major areas of focus. Baltimore CIO Frank Johnson <a href="" target="_blank">tells <em>Government Technology</em></a> that the five areas include:</p> <ul><li><strong>Centralizing IT </strong>via the creation of a new organizational structure</li> <li>Modernizing human resources and financial systems by moving to <strong>an enterprise resource planning/Software as a Service system</strong></li> <li>Continuing to <strong>modernize the city’s IT infrastructure</strong></li> <li>Adopting a<strong> “cloud-first, cloud-only” posture </strong>at city agencies where currently less than 20 percent of workloads are consolidated and virtualize</li> <li>Designing a “very robust” 10- to 20-year <strong>broadband and communication plan</strong></li> </ul><p>Underpinning all of that transformation is a need to invest more in technology modernization. <a href="" target="_blank">Baltimore’s City Office of Information &amp; Technology</a> notes in the report that the city currently <strong>invests 2.5 percent of its operating budget, or about $65 million</strong>, on IT, yet IT enables and supports services and operations funded by the other 97.5 percent of the budget.</p> <p>BCIT compared the city’s IT budget against industry benchmarks for similar-sized state and local governments, and the results show that the city invests “proportionally less on IT than most of its peers.” To match average state and local government benchmarks, the city’s annual IT budget would have to increase to the<strong> $102 million to $122 million range</strong>. However, the report says, “given the current state of IT in the city, the risk of not increasing the investment to levels over the industry average is tremendous and necessary to both catch up and expand infrastructure and capabilities outlined in this plan.” To match the 75th percentile of state and local government industry benchmarks, the city’s IT budget would have to increase to the <strong>$128 million to $156 million range.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><strong>SIGN UP: </strong>Get more news from the <em>StateTech</em> newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!</a></p> <h2>Baltimore Wants to Change Its IT Governance Model</h2> <p>Currently, the report says, the city’s IT operation is spread among individual departments, which often <strong>operate their own internal IT organizations, infrastructures and applications to meet their own unique needs</strong>. The report says this fosters independence, but also inefficiency that the city cannot support financially. It also forces departments to often “make trade-off decisions and tolerate sub-par quality and/or only implement what their budgets can support.”</p> <p>Additionally, city leadership is “unable to take a holistic view of IT and see where funds are being spent and how individual investments line up with Mayoral goals and priorities.” Such a structure<strong> also stifles innovation</strong> because of one or another department’s “preference to invest in the operation of existing legacy systems instead of new and more expensive systems that could benefit other departments.”</p> <p>BCIT will work with department leadership and staff to “conduct a comprehensive assessment of their IT assets, operations, service needs and concerns to better determine what functions and operations should be centralized for the benefit of the enterprise.” However, a key goal of the plan is that <strong>core IT services will be centralized into BCIT</strong> and “operated at high levels of quality, security, resiliency and performance,” and BCIT will “model enterprise IT infrastructure, services and support using the best examples in city departments as a baseline and industry best practices as a guide.”</p> <p>Johnson tells <em>Government Technology</em> that conversations with department heads about the consolidation and IT governance changes have started and that the process is “well underway,” but he says BCIT will also work with partners and philanthropists to identify areas “where they can help underwrite and invest.”</p> <p>BCIT says it must <strong>establish an Enterprise Portfolio Management Office and demand management capabilities</strong>. “The creation of an EPMO will also bring visibility into IT investments and highlight opportunities for innovation and process improvement when, for example, costly existing technology is not aligned with the current strategy,” the plan states.</p> <h2>Cloud Is Key to Baltimore’s IT Future</h2> <p>Another key aspect of the plan is to shift the city to using more cloud services. The plan notes that the city’s physical data center infrastructure<strong> “prevents it from pursuing digital transformation” </strong>and does not enable data integration and analytics, Internet of Things-enabled smart city and other strategic objectives.</p> <p>Much of the city’s IT infrastructure is purposely built for individual departments, limiting efficient reuse and scalability, the plan says. The plan definitely<strong> sings the praises of moving to the cloud</strong>.</p> <p>“Public cloud providers offer world-class internal operations and security that are costly and difficult to replicate,” the plan says. “They offer a pay-for-use model that allows instant, even automatic scalability to increase computing power at times of peak demand, while reducing capacity when demand is low and is not just for raw computing power. The cloud offers rapid deployment of the most advanced capabilities, platforms and software without the need to build the physical infrastructure or learn how to operate, secure and maintain the underlying technology stack.”</p> <p>The city must <strong>move to a hybrid cloud model </strong>and “make the best use of existing city-managed infrastructure,” the plan says, while “also taking advantage of scalable, reliable and secure public cloud services that provide the foundation for integrated enterprise applications, platforms and data.”</p> <p>BCIT says it will work with agencies throughout the city government to “transition to prioritize cloud computing opportunities and will participate in EPMO demand management and portfolio management activities to maintain alignment with business needs.”</p> <p>As new applications are created and modernized, the plan says, enterprise cloud services experts from the city and its vendor partners will “ensure a cohesive integration strategy.”</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/phil-goldstein"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Phil Goldstein" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/phil-goldstein"> <div>Phil Goldstein</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=philgoldstein&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Phil Goldstein is a web editor for <em>FedTech</em> and <em>BizTech</em>. Besides keeping up with the latest in technology trends, he is also an avid lover of the New York Yankees, poetry, photography, traveling and escaping humidity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:42:32 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41261 at Montana's New CIO Aims to Focus on Cybersecurity and Efficiency <span>Montana&#039;s New CIO Aims to Focus on Cybersecurity and Efficiency </span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Wed, 08/15/2018 - 10:00</span> <div><p>In Big Sky Country, Tim Bottenfield is not getting lost in the clouds.</p> <p>Montana’s new CIO is focused on some fairly grounded priorities, and wants to<strong> maintain the focus his predecessors had on cybersecurity</strong> while also contributing to Gov. Steve Bullock’s <a href="" target="_blank">effective government program</a> and<strong> making </strong><strong>IT</strong><strong> even more efficient</strong>.</p> <p>Bottenfield, <a href="">named CIO by Bullock on July 2</a>, had served since 2011 as CIO of the state’s Department of Revenue and also had various IT roles over 25 years at Auburn University.</p> <p>Bullock <a href="" target="_blank">said in a statement</a> that he is looking forward “to working with him to ensure that<strong> Montana continues to be a leader and utilize IT in secure, efficient and effective ways.</strong>”</p> <p><a href=""><strong>SIGN UP: </strong>Get more news from the <em>StateTech</em> newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!</a></p> <h2>Cybersecurity Will Remain a Key Focus in Montana</h2> <p>One of Bottenfield’s top priorities, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>Government Technology</em></a>, will be meeting the mission of the State Information Technology Services Division’s biennial <a href=" Plans/State IT Plans/Strategic Plan 2018_FINAL.pdf?ver=2018-03-13-120644-890" target="_blank">strategic plan</a>, which Chief Technology Officer Matt Van Syckle updated in March. Van Syckle served as interim CIO from January to July following the departure of former CIO Ron Baldwin</p> <p>The plan has six key objectives related to cybersecurity:</p> <ol><li> <p>Develop and implement<strong> security standards, common controls, and best practices</strong> for information systems.</p> </li> <li> <p>Enhance the <strong>enterprise information security training</strong> and awareness program.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Protect information systems across the state by leveraging the public-private partnerships</strong> established by the <a href="" target="_blank">Montana Information Security Advisory Council</a> to enhance information sharing, outreach, and risk awareness.</p> </li> <li> <p>Develop the internal review and compliance program to provide data that proves <strong>efficient security controls or identifies security gaps to remediate</strong>.</p> </li> <li> <p>Develop <strong>automated processes in continuous monitoring and risk management</strong> to identify threats, gain efficiencies, and overcome resource limitations.</p> </li> <li> <p>Perform <strong>a cybersecurity cost analysis</strong> for the state, including investment recommendations.</p> </li> </ol><p>Bottenfield tells <em>Government Technology</em> that he wants to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture through IT solutions as well as aggressive training and education. Four years ago, the State Information Technology Services Division partnered with the Department of Revenue on <strong>a multifactor authentication initiative</strong> that led to the tool being adopted across all state agencies.</p> <p>“It’s not a sexy thing to talk about, but it has to be central to everything we do. It doesn’t really matter if you’re the Department of Revenue, if you’re the Health and Human Services agency … everybody gets the fact that security is the No. 1 thing,” Bottenfield says, praising Van Syckle and Baldwin for their cybersecurity efforts.</p> <p>Over the past year, SITSD and other agencies, including the governor’s office, have explored <a href="" target="_blank">a Belief-Desire-Intention software model-based</a> initiative. Such a model allows intelligent agents to balance their time between selecting a plan of action and carrying it out. That BDI model could lead the state to adopt a “Unified Desktop Workspace environment,” Bottenfield tells <em>Government Technology</em>, which might allow the state to <strong>more closely connect and monitor endpoints</strong>.</p> <p>“Through this initiative and through this type of technology, we feel that we’ll have a better handle on security than we do right now with just the standard desktop sitting on somebody’s desk,” he says. Bottenfield wants to migrate SITSD to this new model as soon as this fall, and launch pilots in “different lines of business” at other agencies.</p> <h2>Montana Drives Efficiency in Data Center and IT Operations</h2> <p>Bullock boasts that he “understands that promoting energy efficiency in the state not only saves taxpayers dollars, but also helps to protect the quality of life we all enjoy.”</p> <p>“Through innovations at the state's data center, Montanans have <strong>saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs</strong>,” <a href="" target="_blank">the governor’s office says</a>.</p> <p>According to <em>Government Technology</em>, following an executive order from Bullock, “the state has worked to consolidate and optimize executive-level infrastructure — a goal that Baldwin said <a href="" target="_blank">last yea</a>r should save millions of dollars when fully implemented and improve sharing through what would essentially be a ‘private cloud.’”</p> <p>Now, Bottenfield says, <strong>about “99.5 percent” of agency data is housed at “state-of-the-art” state data centers</strong> in Helena and Miles City. The consolidation has also enabled the state to be in the position to offer server space to outside entities and agencies in other jurisdictions. Bottenfield says the effort is “a really cost-effective move" for the state.</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/phil-goldstein"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Phil Goldstein" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/phil-goldstein"> <div>Phil Goldstein</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=philgoldstein&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Phil Goldstein is a web editor for <em>FedTech</em> and <em>BizTech</em>. Besides keeping up with the latest in technology trends, he is also an avid lover of the New York Yankees, poetry, photography, traveling and escaping humidity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:00:46 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41256 at How State and Local Governments Can Approach IT Modernization <span>How State and Local Governments Can Approach IT Modernization</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Tue, 08/14/2018 - 09:48</span> <div><p>Government agencies face serious challenges in <a href="">deploying IT to accomplish their missions</a>. Often, they have to deal with increasing demands from citizens even as their budgets stay level or, in some cases, shrink.</p> <p>In <a href="" target="_blank">a 2016 study</a>, for instance, Accenture found that <strong>85 percent of people expect government’s digital services to match or exceed the quality of what commercial entities offer</strong>. And because they do not operate on a for-profit model, it can be difficult for government agencies to <a href="">justify and win approval for new IT spending</a>.</p> <p>Many government agencies spend the vast majority of their IT funds on <a href="">operations and maintenance of legacy systems</a>, with little left over for innovation. While a private sector organization can build a business case for making large investments in new infrastructure, government agencies typically don’t produce additional revenue even when they provide extraordinary service. Instead, they usually must make the case that an investment will <strong>ultimately save taxpayers money — and do so quickly enough to satisfy voters and politicians.</strong></p> <p>IT modernization doesn’t mean merely upgrading infrastructure so that servers are more powerful and network pipes are more robust. The goals behind IT modernization efforts vary from agency to agency, but typically, these efforts are undertaken with the aim of <strong>substantially changing the way in which IT shops structure themselves and deliver services</strong>.</p> <p>In <a href="" target="_blank">a 2016 survey</a>, IDG found that <strong>74 percent </strong>of organizations rated business transformation as either a “critical” or “very important” goal of their IT modernization plans. <strong>Seventy-three percent</strong> said that increasing business agility was a critical or very important goal, <strong>65 percent</strong> said that enabling innovation was a major goal and <strong>63 percent</strong> cited cost reductions. The lowest ranked goal for organizations pursuing IT modernization strategies was the protection of legacy investments, which was cited by only <strong>59 percent</strong> of respondents.</p> <p>Other common goals motivating government agencies to pursue IT modernization strategies include future proofing, reducing demands on internal IT staff and improving security. Several initiatives have improved the services government agencies can offer, as well as their ability to fulfill their missions:</p> <p><a href=""><strong>SIGN UP: </strong>Get more news from the <em>StateTech</em> newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!</a></p> <h2>The Tech State and Local Governments Can Use to Modernize </h2> <p><strong>Mobility: </strong>Every year, mobility becomes more central to the way employees work. Many government employees starting their careers today have been using smartphones since before they were teenagers, and even midcareer professionals have become dependent on mobile devices and apps to be productive. To meet users’ needs and best serve citizens and residents, government agencies must <strong>adopt mobile solutions that both make data more accessible and protect sensitive and regulated information</strong>. Depending on current investments, an IT modernization effort may require a government agency to revise its device strategy, adopt new <strong>enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions</strong>, invest in wireless networking upgrades or develop new internal or public-facing mobile apps.</p> <p><strong>Cloud computing and shared services:</strong> The capabilities of the public cloud are well suited for solving many of the challenges government agencies face when it comes to IT modernization. Public cloud providers allow organizations to <strong>rapidly scale up resources and then pull them back again if they are no longer needed</strong>.</p> <p>Further, the subscription-style pricing model of paying for cloud services as an operational expense can help agencies overcome hurdles related to procurement. However, the public cloud won’t be a fit for every use case, and<a href=""> agencies must exercise caution </a>to ensure that they can <strong>maintain the necessary level of control and availability of their data and applications</strong>. In some instances, regulations will prevent agencies from placing data in the public cloud, in which case private clouds may be a good fit.</p> <p><strong>Data center optimization and improving operational efficiency:</strong> Up-to-date <a href="">storage, networking </a><a href="">and</a><a href=""> computing infrastructure</a> is a necessary part of any IT modernization effort, especially for agencies that plan to continue running workloads on-premises.</p> <p><strong>Security:</strong> Cybersecurity threats continue to evolve. From <a href="">ransomware that locks up systems to data exfiltration malware designed to leak sensitive information</a>, cyberattacks have the potential to bring an agency to its knees. Robust security solutions should be implemented to provide agencies with multiple layers of defense. <a href="">Some of this security will come in the form of tools </a>such as next-generation firewalls, email security tools and endpoint security solutions that analyze the behavior of programs to determine whether they are malicious. But end-user activity is also a major risk factor for agencies; training programs and robust access and identity management policies and tools are essential.</p> <p><strong>Data analytics: </strong>Data is growing at a massive pace. Already, government agencies are generating oceans of information via mobile devices and applications. But without analytics tools to <a href="">turn this raw data into actionable insights</a>, this information cannot help agencies achieve their full potential.</p> <p><strong>Internet of Things: </strong>The amount of data being generated today is a proverbial drop in the bucket compared with what will be produced in the coming years as <a href="">Internet</a><a href=""> of Things projects are adopted in large numbers</a>. The dropping price of sensors and the increased capacity of data analytics tools will give rise to an untold number of use cases, and it is impossible for anyone to predict IoT’s impact on government agencies. However, IoT has potential applications in human health, transportation, agriculture, policing and military uses and other areas.</p> <h2>State and Local Governments Face Specific IT Challenges</h2> <p>State and local governments aren’t modernizing IT with the mere goal of supporting in-office workers. The unique nature of government agencies creates a number of specialized challenges, including:</p> <p><strong>Community engagement: </strong>By incorporating public input and civic engagement into state and local government initiatives, agencies gain a full view of perspectives in their communities, helping to improve decision-making. Increasingly, community members expect to be able to provide this feedback in a digital format, rather than attending in-person meetings.</p> <p><strong>Smart city initiatives: </strong>Programs that use data from cameras and sensors to <a href="">improve services are helping cities</a> and states to streamline traffic flows, improve motor vehicle safety and help drivers find open parking spots. One popular early use case is IP-enabled streetlights. Some cities even program their downtown streetlights to brighten when bars close at night, encouraging people to clear from the streets.</p> <p><strong>Connected citizen services: </strong>By creating digital connections between citizens and their town hall or state house, government agencies can improve service delivery and make people feel that government is responsive to their concerns. This can be as simple as a mobile app that allows citizens to engage in basic interactions, such as reporting potholes, paying water bills or finding state parks on a map.</p> <p><em>To learn how state and local agencies can address their IT modernization challenges, read the CDW white paper “<a href="">How IT Modernization Improves Government</a>.”</em></p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/statetech-staff"> <div>StateTech Staff</div> </a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 14 Aug 2018 13:48:43 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41251 at How IT Modernization Improves Government <span>How IT Modernization Improves Government </span> <div><p>State and local government agencies face a constant challenge to deploy modern IT infrastructure.</p> <p>Many existing tools and services rely on <strong>legacy infrastructure</strong>. Technology budgets are limited, and the majority of dollars go to maintaining and operating existing systems, rather than toward new hardware and software. Cumbersome procurement processes also can make it difficult for agencies to quickly obtain and deploy new resources when they need them.</p> <p>Despite these hurdles, <strong>IT modernization is essential for agencies looking to improve operational efficiency, reduce overall technology costs, boost security and support employee productivity</strong>. Among the solutions that can help federal agencies achieve their goals for IT modernization are data center optimization, high-performance <strong>mobile devices, networking, security </strong><strong>and</strong><strong> data analytic</strong>s. Agencies can also derive significant value by obtaining resources and services from the outside — through public cloud providers, consulting and managed services, as well as through offerings such as Device as a Service (DaaS) programs.</p> <p>Effective implementation is essential to successful IT modernization. A solid strategy — combined with support from trusted service providers — can help agencies get there.</p> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Tue, 08/14/2018 - 09:48</span> <img src="/sites/" width="800" height="533" alt="Image of Philadelphia City hall with car lights streaming at long exposure" typeof="foaf:Image" /> <div> <div>Document File</div> <div><span class="file file--mime-application-pdf file--application-pdf"><a href="" type="application/pdf; length=1186338">government-it-modernization-state.pdf</a></span> </div> </div> Tue, 14 Aug 2018 13:48:42 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41241 at Columbus Details Tech Needed for Its Connected Vehicle Project <span>Columbus Details Tech Needed for Its Connected Vehicle Project</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Mon, 08/13/2018 - 12:33</span> <div><p><a href="" target="_blank">Columbus, Ohio</a>, is driving its connected vehicle program into the future.</p> <p>Earlier this summer, the city and the U.S. Transportation Department released <a href=" Columbus Concept of Operations- Connected Vehicle Environment.pdf" target="_blank">a highly detailed, 205-page roadmap</a> for its Connected Vehicle Environment project, spelling out the connected vehicle infrastructure it plans to construct over the next two years. The plan is part of the Columbus Traffic Signal System and one element of a larger <a href="" target="_blank">Smart Columbus</a> smart city plan.</p> <p>The plan comes <a href="">about two years after</a> the Ohio city won the highly publicized <a href="" target="_blank">Smart City Challenge</a>, a nationwide contest put on by the Transportation Department, which came with a $40 million grant.</p> <p>Under the pilot project, which will not officially go live until July 2020, <strong>the city will install 113 roadside units and other connected vehicle equipment at intersections with stoplights</strong>. The city will also <strong>deploy 1,800 on-board units </strong>that will be installed on participating private, emergency transit and freight vehicles, according to the document, known as a “concept of operations.” There will also be <strong>12 vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure applications</strong>. And the project “will capture, relate, store, and respond to data generated by the infrastructure, used by the applications for traffic management.”</p> <p>The Connected Vehicle Environment will require <strong>a host of wireless and Internet of Things technologies, as well as data management systems, to work together</strong>. The CVE project is <a href="">a key element of the city’s smart city plan</a>, but Columbus has also <a href="" target="_blank">drummed up about $500 million in pledges</a> for smart city investments to support the wider smart plan, which aims to spur economic activity and innovation, enable an increasingly mobile workforce and, ultimately, improve residents’ quality of life.</p> <p><a href=""><strong>SIGN UP: </strong>Get more news from the <em>StateTech</em> newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!</a></p> <h2>Columbus Aims to Improve Road Safety with Technology</h2> <p>The overall goal of the CVE is to improve general<strong> vehicle operator safety, safety at intersections and in school zones, the schedule reliability of transit vehicles; emergency response times</strong>, motorists’ adherence to red light laws, and traffic management capabilities.</p> <p>“As you would expect in an urban environment, it was rear-end, angle and five-point crashes that exhibited the greatest number of injuries and fatalities,” Mandy Bishop, deputy director of public service in Columbus and the project’s program manager, said in a webinar, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>Government Technology</em></a>.</p> <p>“In these corridors, CV [connected vehicle] technology could be used in applications targeted toward <strong>reducing these crashes</strong>,” she added.</p> <p>Through the CVE, the city wants to deliver situational awareness for traffic management and operations based on the data it collects from intersections and vehicles. The goal, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>GCN</em> reports</a>, is to “reduce the number of accidents and support truck platooning, which involves electronically linking groups of trucks to drive close to one another and accelerate or brake simultaneously.”</p> <h2>The Tech Behind Columbus’s Connected Vehicle Program</h2> <p>To make all of that possible, the CVE will <strong>require numerous technologies to work in concert.</strong></p> <p>“Due to the networked nature of devices in the CVE, a number of policies and constraints regarding information technology and data security are anticipated to be developed as part of the deployment,” the concept of operations document states.</p> <p>The city will need to <strong>modify its existing IT service management to accommodate the addition of connected vehicle technology </strong>to design, plan, deliver, operate and control the IT services to maintain those devices, according to the plan. Additionally, the CVE “will result in the generation of new IT processes, policies, and data governance plans to manage the system,” the document notes.</p> <p>The roadside units will have any or all the following items: a traffic signal controller, a Global Navigation Satellite System receiver to pinpoint locations, a<strong> wireless dedicated short-range communications radio and a message processing unit</strong>.</p> <p>According to the concept of operations document, the on-board units in the vehicles will contain <strong>a GNSS receiver, a vehicle data bus, a DSRC radio, a processing unit, a power management system, software applications and a display</strong>.</p> <p>The sensors on the vehicle data bus will capture data on the vehicle’s acceleration and angular rotation, and the GNSS will collect data on the vehicle’s position, speed and heading. Cars and infrastructure will communicate via DSRC radio.</p> <p>The system will increase the amount and quality of traffic operations data received at the Columbus Traffic Management Center that can be used to optimize traffic signal timing in real time along CV-equipped corridors, according to the document.</p> <p>Another key technology element of the CVE project is <strong>a security and credentials management system</strong>, or SCMS, which is designed to provide trusted, secure vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.</p> <p>“It employs highly innovative methods and encryption and certificate management techniques to ensure communications security between entities that previously have not encountered each other — but also wish to remain anonymous (as is the case when vehicle operators encounter each other on the road),” the concept of operations document states. “This allows devices that have never encountered each other to have confidence that the data received is trustworthy. Certificates will be transmitted to RSUs via backhaul and to OBUs over the air.”</p> <p>The city notes that access to the Columbus Traffic Signal System fiber-optic network “has the potential to compromise the operations of the CVE, and <strong>security measures need to be in place to reduce the likelihood of an attack that may disrupt the system</strong>.”</p> <p>The city proposes a combination of network security measures to protect the CVE, including “the use of encrypted over-the-air messages, firewalls to prevent unauthorized access through a local network or the internet; physical security in the form of locks, cabinet alarms, and fiber connectivity alarms; and proper implementation of wireless security protocols.”</p> <p>More specific measures may include “implementing strong passwords, encryption of data sent across the network, logging and monitoring network traffic, and disabling unused ports and removing unnecessary devices from the network,” the city says.</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/phil-goldstein"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Phil Goldstein" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/phil-goldstein"> <div>Phil Goldstein</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=philgoldstein&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Phil Goldstein is a web editor for <em>FedTech</em> and <em>BizTech</em>. Besides keeping up with the latest in technology trends, he is also an avid lover of the New York Yankees, poetry, photography, traveling and escaping humidity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 13 Aug 2018 16:33:13 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41226 at Clarkstown Police Department Improves Operations with G Suite <span>Clarkstown Police Department Improves Operations with G Suite</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Fri, 08/10/2018 - 10:42</span> <div><p>Clarkstown, N.Y., a town located about 30 miles outside of New York City, is rated <a href="" target="_blank">the sixth-safest town in New York</a> and has always had a technologically advanced Police Department, with computers in police cars back in the 1990s. The department is still striving to do all it can to evolve with the times, thanks to <a href="" target="_blank">Google</a>’s cloud-based <a href="" target="_blank">G Suite</a>.</p> <p>In January, <a href="" target="_blank">the Clarkstown Police Department</a> <strong>spun up its own instance of G Suite, separate from the town’s account</strong>, according to Sgt. Brian Gorsky, who serves as the department’s head of IT.</p> <p>The switch has enabled the Police Department to <strong>more effectively collaborate on documents</strong> through Google’s <a href="!/" target="_blank">Team Drives</a> feature. Having its own instance also gives the department <strong>more flexibility to add new features at its own pace</strong>. Additionally, it provides more security.</p> <p>The Police Department, which has 156 officers and 70 civilian employees, has been using some form of G Suite since 2011, and the cloud suite has <strong>enhanced the department’s collaboration and communication</strong>, Gorsky says. He notes that for many police departments, the transition to the cloud “is sort of inevitable in some ways.”</p> <p>Google declined to disclose how many local police departments use G Suite, saying that it does not break down customers by vertical market. “Cities and state governments across the country rely on G Suite to communicate and collaborate within their departments, with external agencies and constituents in the community,” a Google Cloud spokesperson tells <em>StateTech</em>.</p> <p>Police departments, including the <a href="" target="_blank">Maryland State Police</a>, “use G Suite to increase productivity and collaboration and ultimately, improve community services,” the spokesperson adds.</p> <p><a href=""><strong>SIGN UP: </strong>Get more news from the <em>StateTech</em> newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!</a></p> <h2>Clarkstown Police Department Modernizes Its IT with G Suite</h2> <p>Gorsky has been with the Clarkstown Police Department since 1994, and became a sergeant in 2001. In 2011, the department, realizing how much technology it was dealing with on a daily basis, created a new position akin to a director of technology, which Gorsky filled. He manages everything from computers to audiovisual equipment and the department’s communications center.</p> <p>However, when Gorsky took on the role of IT sergeant in 2011, he says the department wasn’t “doing a great job of keeping up with the times.” The sergeant supervising the IT staff at the time was an administrative sergeant nearing retirement who wasn’t very computer savvy, Gorsky says.</p> <p>“There was a little bit of a lack of focus and planning and proactivity,” Gorsky says.<strong> “I’d like to think that, when they created this position, I tried to pull everything together and look at the big picture.”</strong></p> <p>At the time, the town of Clarkstown was moving away from a locally hosted email system to Google’s Gmail, and the Police Department decided to migrate as well. Not every officer even had an email address back then, and the department only had <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a>’s Outlook email client on five computers, which Gorsky rectified.</p> <p>The switch to G Suite enhanced collaboration within the department, Gorsky says. <strong>“Communication was the biggest thing,” </strong>he notes. The Police Department gets a “tremendous amount” of information thrown at it, including intelligence on security threats from local, state and federal law enforcement authorities. The switch to the cloud has enabled <strong>simple yet powerful enhancements to the way the department does its business</strong>.</p> <p>“Instead of printing out paper bulletins, we’re now putting them into Google Drive,” he says, and displaying them through <a href="" target="_blank">Google Sites</a>.</p> <p>The Police Department now has the ability to <strong>search through documents much more easily</strong>, Gorsky adds. Previously, if an officer was looking for a specific document, “you had to go look through a stack of papers and hope that somebody didn’t throw it out,” he says.</p> <h2>Police Department Gets Its Own Instance of Google Cloud Services </h2> <p>In January, the Police Department migrated all of its email, calendar and Google Drive data from the town’s G Suite instance to its own.</p> <p>The department made the switch for several reasons, Gorksy says. He and another system administrator had backend access to G Suite, but could not easily add new cloud services. “It got to a point that there were features we wanted to use that we were paying for, and <strong>it was like pulling teeth to get services turned on</strong>,” he says.</p> <p>The town’s instance of G Suite was “basic,” Gorsky says, and the Police Department wanted newer features like Team Drive that <strong>allow entire organizations to take ownership of files and easily store, search and access their files anywhere, from any device</strong>.</p> <p>The use of Google Sites, combined with Google Drive, enabled the department to migrate from <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">SharePoint</a> to Google’s solutions.</p> <p>Now, the Police Department has <strong>“the ability to control our own destiny,”</strong> Gorsky says. As Google introduces new features, the department can control whether it gets them on a rapid- or regular-release track. The department also now has a dedicated G Suite representative who helps workers learn more about G Suite and Google Cloud.</p> <p>The Police Department is still delving into different areas of G Suite, and there is the potential to take advantage of new features down the line. “I can’t thrust too much technology on people here,” he says. “Their heads will explode.”</p> <p>Gorsky says the Clarkstown Police Department is fortunate that it has as many resources to devote to IT as it does, since many police departments lack any technology officers.</p> <p>Moving to the cloud allows law enforcement agencies to <strong>stop maintaining internal data center infrastructure, which saves time and money</strong>, Gorsky notes. However, that forces police departments to investment more in ensuring strong network connectivity and access to the internet. Clarkstown has a fiber-optic line and a cable modem as well as a wireless internet backup.</p> <p>Over time, more police departments will embrace the cloud, Gorsky says. “As the generations move through the police departments … you’re going to see the lines of thinking of people coming up the ranks shift, and it’s going to be cloud-based.”</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/phil-goldstein"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Phil Goldstein" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/phil-goldstein"> <div>Phil Goldstein</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=philgoldstein&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Phil Goldstein is a web editor for <em>FedTech</em> and <em>BizTech</em>. Besides keeping up with the latest in technology trends, he is also an avid lover of the New York Yankees, poetry, photography, traveling and escaping humidity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 10 Aug 2018 14:42:32 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41221 at How Innovation Zones Serve as Test Beds for Smart City Tech <span>How Innovation Zones Serve as Test Beds for Smart City Tech</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Thu, 08/09/2018 - 11:05</span> <div><p>San Antonio may not have the size and clout of its fellow Texas cities Dallas and Houston, but it is still the 24th-largest metropolitan area in the country. And when it comes to civic technology deployments, it is making moves.</p> <p>In June, the San Antonio City Council was <strong>briefed on plans to create three “innovation zones,” </strong>as part of its <a href="" target="_blank">Smart SA</a> initiative, <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>San Antonio Express-News</em> reports</a>. Although the city has not formally moved forward on the innovation zone deployments, the proposed zones indicate that Alamo City is <strong>getting more serious about ramping up its smart city efforts</strong>.</p> <p>Innovation zones are areas within cities that municipalities use as <strong>proving grounds for smart city technology deployments</strong>, small areas to test everything from smart streetlights to IP-connected surveillance cameras and environmental sensors. Once the technologies are proven at a small scale, cities can then make a case to <strong>expand them on a wider basis</strong>. Other cities, including Denver, Las Vegas and Kansas City, Mo., have undertaken similar efforts in recent years.</p> <p>“We see the innovation zones as a real-world proving ground for the pilot smart city technology that we’re testing,” Jose De La Cruz, chief innovation officer of San Antonio, said at the council meeting, <a href="" target="_blank">according to StateScoop</a>. “The zones are really the next phase in our overall smart city strategy.”</p> <p><a href=""><strong>SIGN UP: </strong>Get more news from the <em>StateTech</em> newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!</a></p> <h2>San Antonio Plans Innovation Zones as Part of Smart City Strategy</h2> <p>In April, the City Council’s Innovation and Technology Committee <a href="" target="_blank">recommended placing innovation zones in two areas</a>: South Texas Medical Center and Brooks, a 1,308-acre mixed-use community in the city’s southeast quadrant. In June, De La Cruz added in downtown San Antonio as a third area.</p> <p>The three areas were selected because the city hopes to use innovative technologies to address challenges in each. Additionally, De La Cruz said that the three areas were chosen because they have <strong>existing fiber-optic cables</strong>, which can serve as backhaul to the internet for wireless and Internet of Things technologies, according to the <em>Express-News</em>.</p> <p>Brooks is a former U.S. Air Force base slated for “live-work-play” development, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Rivard Report</a>, and the city listed <strong>public Wi-Fi, innovative drainage systems, logistics and public transportation</strong> as opportunities that technology could address.</p> <p>Meanwhile, according to the Rivard Report, the medical center “would serve as a laboratory for new transportation projects aimed at <strong>combating traffic congestion, parking issues, and pedestrian accidents</strong>, among others.”</p> <p>De La Cruz said that the downtown area will test <strong>innovative lighting solutions and IoT solutions to parking accessibility and enforcement</strong>.</p> <p>What comes next? The <em>Express-News</em> reports:</p> <blockquote><p>As the innovation zones ramp up, the city will hold a vendor summit where officials will lay out local challenges and invite companies to propose smart solutions. Eventually, the city will seek sealed proposals and then best-and-final offers from shortlisted groups over the course of the next several months.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Cities Promote Innovation Districts to Improve City Infrastructure</h2> <p>Other cities have adopted the innovation zone model.</p> <p>In early 2017, <a href="" target="_blank">Las Vegas pushed ahead</a> with its own “<a href="" target="_blank">innovation district</a>” in the city’s urban core to concentrate smart city technology infrastructure investment.</p> <p>“The Innovation District is meant to be the home of new transportation infrastructure and mobility technologies, allowing for the creation of partnerships with autonomous vehicle/mobility companies and with smart city technology firms,” <a href="" target="_blank">the city says on its website</a>.</p> <p>Las Vegas has partnered with <a href="" target="_blank">Cisco Systems</a> to get access to its analytics tools to <strong>collect data about traffic movement, water use, pedestrian activity, waste, lighting </strong>and other environmental factors, <a href="" target="_blank">according to a press release</a>.</p> <p>Since November 2017, Las Vegas has operated <strong>an all-electric minibus</strong>, billed as the first autonomous public transportation to be launched on U.S. roads, thanks to the collaboration between the City of Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and the Keolis transportation management company. As of May, the shuttle has transported more than <strong>25,000</strong> riders, Christopher Barker, vice president of new mobility, communications and marketing at Keolis <a href="" target="_blank">tells the website Skift</a>, a number he says is “ahead of what we forecasted.”</p> <p>In Denver, about a 20-minute light-rail trip northeast from downtown and sitting on the edge of Denver International Airport, the city is developing a mixed-used area known as <a href="" target="_blank">Peña Station Next</a>, with hotels, commercial and residential development.</p> <p>The city envisions that the area will include 1.5 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail space and 2,500 residences, while also serving as a test bed for smart city technology. One of the development’s buildings has been completed: the gleaming, solar-powered, 112,500-square-foot edifice that houses <a href="" target="_blank">Panasonic</a> Enterprise Solutions’ operations and technology center.</p> <p>In the streets, workers are installing <strong>wirelessly controlled LED streetlights</strong>, which the complex’s backers <a href="" target="_blank">say in a press release</a> will deliver 70 percent energy savings over conventional lampposts.</p> <p>And in Kansas City, the city is moving forward with its <a href="" target="_blank">Smart City Initiative</a>, and also plans to expand its KC Streetcar, a 2-year-old transit system that wends its way through parts of downtown Kansas City.</p> <p>The KC Streetcar has<strong> served as “a laboratory” of sorts deploying smart city</strong>, Kansas City CIO Bob Bennett <a href="">told <em>StateTech</em> in a previous interview</a>. The city has partnered with Cisco as a strategic partner on the project.</p> <p>And as <em>StateTech</em> reported:</p> <blockquote><p><a href="" target="_blank">Kansas City’s Smart City</a> corridor is a $15.7 million public-private partnership offering free public Wi-Fi, smart streetlights and sensors along the KC Streetcar’s 2-mile-long route. The city embedded technology supporting these capabilities along the streetcar route, often mounting cameras, sensors and Wi-Fi hubs on lampposts and elsewhere.</p> </blockquote> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/phil-goldstein"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Phil Goldstein" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/phil-goldstein"> <div>Phil Goldstein</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=philgoldstein&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Phil Goldstein is a web editor for <em>FedTech</em> and <em>BizTech</em>. Besides keeping up with the latest in technology trends, he is also an avid lover of the New York Yankees, poetry, photography, traveling and escaping humidity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Thu, 09 Aug 2018 15:05:41 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41216 at West Virginia to Use Mobile, Blockchain-Based Ballots in November <span>West Virginia to Use Mobile, Blockchain-Based Ballots in November </span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Thu, 08/09/2018 - 10:21</span> <div><p>West Virginia is taking its <strong>mobile, blockchain-based balloting initiative</strong> statewide for the November election. </p> <p>The state will allow West Virginians serving overseas in the military to vote in the federal election <strong>using a smartphone application</strong>, as an alternative to a paper ballot, <a href="" target="_blank">CNN reports</a>. </p> <p><a href="">As <em>StateTech </em>has reported</a>, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner <a href="" target="_blank">announced in March</a> the state’s intention to pilot the technology to enable secure military mobile voting in two counties. It became the first state in the U.S. to do so in its May 8 primary election. Now, it will be available for all counties, though state officials will <strong>let each county make a final decision on whether to use the technology</strong>, Michael Queen, Warner's deputy chief of staff, tells CNN. And Warner tells CNN he does not think traditional balloting should be replaced, and adds that troops can still use paper ballots if they want to. </p> <p>The state is partnering with the company <a href="" target="_blank">Voatz</a> on the technology, and <strong>although some voting and technology experts say the app represents a security risk, the company insists it is secure</strong>. According to CNN, Warner’s office said four audits of various aspects of the Voatz solution, including its cloud and blockchain infrastructure, revealed no problems.</p> <p>How does the system work? CNN reports: </p> <blockquote><p>Anyone using it must first register by taking a photo of their government-issued identification and a selfie-style video of their face, then upload them via the app. Voatz says its facial recognition software will ensure the photo and video show the same person. Once approved, voters can cast their ballot using the Voatz app.</p> </blockquote> <p>The ballots are <strong>anonymized and recorded via blockchain’s distributed ledger technology</strong>. Still, some experts say they see cybersecurity flaws in the app. “Mobile voting is a horrific idea,” Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, tells CNN. “It’s internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over our horrible networks, to servers that are very difficult to secure without a physical paper record of the vote.” </p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/phil-goldstein"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Phil Goldstein" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/phil-goldstein"> <div>Phil Goldstein</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=philgoldstein&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Phil Goldstein is a web editor for <em>FedTech</em> and <em>BizTech</em>. Besides keeping up with the latest in technology trends, he is also an avid lover of the New York Yankees, poetry, photography, traveling and escaping humidity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Thu, 09 Aug 2018 14:21:22 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41211 at States Use Cloud to Maximize Returns for Unemployment Benefits <span>States Use Cloud to Maximize Returns for Unemployment Benefits</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Wed, 08/08/2018 - 09:04</span> <div><p>For some time now, states have embraced cloud computing as a flexible foundation for sharing services. Recently, states recognized they can achieve economies of scale by collaborating across boundary lines, moving their unemployment insurance services to the cloud in teams.</p> <p>Those consortia use cloud services to support unemployment insurance benefits. The consortia report enjoying <strong>more resources, greater accountability, increased efficiency and faster service</strong> through their collaborative efforts.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>SIGN UP:</strong> Get more news from the <em>StateTech</em> newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!</a></p> <h2>Collaborating for Increased Resources, Greater Accountability</h2> <p>In 2010, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina joined forces in the <strong>Southeast Consortium Unemployment Insurance Benefits Initiative (SCUBI) </strong>to replace their individual systems with a single shared system, <a href="" target="_blank">reports <em>GCN</em></a>. The Labor Department has encouraged the establishment of consortia such as SCUBI through grants designed to <strong>improve overall program quality, accountability, performance </strong><strong>and</strong><strong> integrity</strong>.</p> <p>According to stakeholders, the consortium minimizes the cost of multiple states implementing expensive system redesigns on their own. SCUBI picked Capgemini's Acuity Unemployment Insurance Benefits solution, which handles unemployment benefit filings and employer claim management through self-service portals. By hosting the system in <a href="" target="_blank">Xerox</a>'s cloud, states have the ability to ramp up resources during peak activity and reduce them when they are not needed.</p> <p>“One of the beauties of doing a consortium is you then have the ability to leverage those software maintenance costs across four states, not just one,” Scott Sanders, the executive director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, <a href="" target="_blank">tells <em>Government Technology</em></a>. He also notes other opportunities available in the consortium model, such as <strong>cross-training potential and the ability to scale innovations</strong>.</p> <p>Idaho’s Internet Unemployment System (iUS) has been an unabashed (and cost-saving) success for Idaho, Vermont and North Dakota. A vendor selling a specific system for unemployment benefits could charge $30 to $60 million, iUS Director Mark Mayfield <a href="" target="_blank">tells the <em>Idaho Business Review</em></a>. <strong>Idaho dedicated $10 million to establish </strong><strong>iUS</strong><strong>, which took only four </strong><strong>months,</strong><strong> and came in $3 million under budget.</strong> The system relies on <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">SQL servers</a>.</p> <p>The Idaho Department of Labor <a href="" target="_blank">won the 2015 NASCIO State IT Recognition Award for Improving State Operations</a> for the successful implementation of iUS version 1.0.</p> <h2>Increased Efficiency and Faster Processing in the Cloud</h2> <p>Perhaps the most well-known consortium for state unemployment benefits is <strong>ReEmploy USA</strong>, consisting of Mississippi, Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Mississippi was the first state active on the system. Maine leveraged it for unemployment insurance payments beginning last year.</p> <p>Mohammed Jalaluddin, director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security’s Office of Technology Support and Innovation, <a href="" target="_blank">tells <em>Government Technology</em></a> that his state’s cloud offering allows Maine and other consortium members to establish, validate and maintain most claims in real time.</p> <p>“There are a few exceptions where the system will establish the claim offline, but <strong>80 percent, 90 percent of the time they will be able to establish the claim immediately</strong>,” Jalaluddin says.</p> <p>Rhode Island will become active on the system in 2019 and Connecticut in 2020. <a href="" target="_blank">According to <em>Government Technology</em></a>, the consortium results in tremendous cost savings for its members, and it received a $90 million grant from the Labor Department.</p> <p>To facilitate its move to the cloud, Mississippi converged to a standardized <a href="" target="_blank">VMware</a> suite, <em>Government Technology</em> reports.</p> <h2>Departments Save Time and Money with a Joint Platform</h2> <p>States also discover internal <strong>efficiencies in their support of benefits through cloud computing</strong>.</p> <p>For example, Louisiana offers a cloud contact center to its state agencies, provided by Enghouse Interactive’s Contact Center: Service Provider (CCSP). <a href="" target="_blank">The Office of Unemployment Insurance recently joined</a>. As Renita Ward Williams, the agency’s director, <a href="" target="_blank">tells <em>Government Technology</em></a>, the move improved the efficiency and speed of services to the public.</p> <p>With its soft phone system, the Louisiana contact center freed about 150 unemployment insurance agents from landlines. It also <strong>dramatically lowered hold times for citizens.</strong> Whereas hold times once averaged 30 minutes, a beneficiary calling today will be on hold for only a few minutes or even seconds. The agency expects to save roughly $64,000 annually with the transition to the new platform.</p> <p>The evidence is clear: States have saved time and money when they have joined forces to offer unemployment insurance through the cloud. It certainly would not be a surprise to see this trend grow and to see states explore other ways they might <strong>collaborate and pool resources with cloud power in the years ahead</strong>.</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><br />  </p> <p><em><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href=""><img alt="CITizen_blog_cropped_0.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></a></em></p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/taxonomy/term/11321"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="Kevin Cucuel" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/taxonomy/term/11321"> <div>Kevin Cucuel</div> </a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Kevin Cucuel is a Sr. Business Development Strategist for State and Local Government at CDW-G. With a passion for aligning CDW’s strengths to our customer’s needs, Kevin focuses on the insertion of IT solutions into segment sub verticals and leads emerging market discussions.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 08 Aug 2018 13:04:29 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41206 at