StateTech - Technology Solutions That Drive Government en NACo 2018: Why Data Sharing Is Essential to Serving the Underserved <span>NACo 2018: Why Data Sharing Is Essential to Serving the Underserved</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:19</span> <div><p>Poverty plagues children <a href="" target="_blank">more than any other group</a>, notes Roy Charles Brooks, president of the National Association of Counties and the commissioner of <a href="" target="_blank">Tarrant County,</a> Texas. And if county governments do not invest now, <strong>they will pay later</strong> as poor children grow up and get funneled through the public education, criminal justice and welfare systems.</p> <p>“We need innovation now more than ever <a href="" target="_blank">as the equity gap</a> in this country <a href="" target="_blank">grows even wider</a>,” Brooks said during a panel at <a href="" target="_blank">NACo’s 83rd Annual Conference and Exposition</a> in Nashville, Tenn. “Every elected official in this room and county staff can <strong>develop innovative ways to remove barriers, build opportunities and address the many faces of poverty</strong> in America.”</p> <p>Brooks and other experts on the panel said that county governments need to make data sources about their residents less siloed and <strong>use technology to give different departments better access to each other’s data</strong>. That will lead to more insights about residents’ welfare and enable counties to more efficiently and effectively deliver services and help the most vulnerable and underserved.</p> <p>“If we’re going to provide wraparound services to families, agencies and departments need to be able to <strong>share data</strong>,” Brooks said. “Sometimes, antiquated systems make that a challenging proposition. Sometimes, it’s a cultural issue. But we need help in creating the tools needed to more effectively deliver services.”</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>How Counties Can Break Down Data Siloes to Help Residents</h2> <p>To share and integrate data more effectively, counties must break down both technical and human siloes, said Della Jenkins, executive director of <a href="" target="_blank">Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy</a> at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy &amp; Practice.</p> <p>AISP works with counties, cities and states on governance structures that enable different departments to talk with each other and share data, Jenkins said. Counties need to<strong> build capacity and relationships</strong> within their governmental structures to <strong>route and share information more efficiently</strong>. “Technology is only as good as the people who are using the technology,” she said.</p> <p><img alt="NACo2018-3.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /><br /><span style="font-size: 11px; line-height: 20.8px;">From left: Stefanie Dreyer, Roy Charles Brooks, Della Jenkins, Barry Murphy and Michael Shaw discuss data at NACo 2018. Photo: Phil Goldstein</span></p> <p>Michael Shaw, program officer for human services at the <a href="" target="_blank">Kresge Foundation</a>, a philanthropic organization that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities, said county governments can get access to a lot of platforms that help analyze data on what is happening in their communities. Yet they face challenges in <strong>disaggregating data at the individual level and connecting that to continuous improvement in service delivery models</strong>.</p> <p>Shaw argued that counties need to shift from focusing on outputs to outcomes, and county officials need to do a better job of analyzing data and monitoring contracts and partnerships to get at the problems residents are facing.</p> <p>Counties should <strong>think longitudinally about the data</strong> they collect on residents, Jenkins said, and look not just at the experiences and programs they interact with, but how they do so over the course of their life. For example, they could link family members together and use data analytics to explore how the services a mother receives impact her children. To do so, counties need integrated data systems. “We know that the ecosystem kids grow up in impacts them immensely,” Jenkins said. “If parents are thriving, then kids are thriving as well.”</p> <p>Counties must <strong>consider the purpose of the data sharing</strong>, integration and analysis they want to do and work backward from that find the technology solution that will help them get there, Jenkins said.</p> <p>Most counties have<strong> a patchwork of software and processes</strong> that make their databases talk to each other, according to Jenkins. “There is not one product or solution,” she said. Counties need <strong>a range of technical expertise in data analytics</strong>, Jenkins noted. Some counties work with outside vendors to get those services or use open-source solutions. Jenkins also said counties should look at their peers for best practices. “Beg, borrow and steal from other places,” she said.</p> <p>Shaw noted that technology platforms for data analysis often roll down from the federal government to state and local governments, and that this creates a hodgepodge of analytics platforms. These platforms need “become more elastic” so that they can talk to one another, he said.</p> <p>In just one example of how this can work in practice, Jenkins noted that in <a href="" target="_blank">Mecklenburg County</a>, N.C., the county government has done a great job of building an integrated data system in partnership with a local university. Using descriptive statistics, the county researched whether it was<strong> identifying all children who were experiencing housing instability or homelessness</strong> who were enrolled in the school system. They expected more children to be enrolled in the school system than were in the database of those experiencing housing instability or homelessness, but <strong>the data analysis revealed the opposite was true</strong>, Jenkins said.</p> <p>“They were missing hundreds of kids in the district,” Jenkins said, but that was fixed within two weeks, and the <strong>children were enrolled in school</strong>.</p> <p><em>Follow </em>StateTech <em>magazine's coverage of the NACo 2018 conference at our <a href="">conference landing page</a>.</em></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, 16 Jul 2018 14:19:01 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41101 at NACo 2018: How Counties Can Secure Their Elections as the 2018 Midterms Loom <span>NACo 2018: How Counties Can Secure Their Elections as the 2018 Midterms Loom</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Thu, 07/12/2018 - 19:21</span> <div><p>Earlier this week, a top cybersecurity official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told lawmakers in Congress that Russia likely tried to target every state in the run-up to the 2016 election.</p> <p>“I would suspect that the Russians<strong> scanned all 50 states</strong>,” said Christopher Krebs, undersecretary for DHS’ <a href="" target="_blank">National Protection and Programs Directorate</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">according to CBS News</a>, adding, “Twenty-one was the number we were able to see.” At a hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Krebs said that the 2018 midterms <strong>“remain a potential target for Russian actors,” </strong>but that “the intelligence community has <strong>yet to see any evidence of a robust campaign aimed at tampering with our election infrastructure</strong> along the lines of 2016 or influencing the makeup of the House or Senate races,” <a href="" target="_blank"><em>USA Today</em> reports</a>.</p> <p>Undoubtedly, <a href="">election security</a> remains <a href="">a hot topic for state and local governments</a> as primary elections continue and the November elections near. What can county governments do to secure their election infrastructure and give residents confidence that the voter rolls (not to mention their votes) are secure?</p> <p>County IT leaders and IT security experts said that they should <strong>seek to limit network access to election infrastructure, seek advice and services from information-sharing organizations, work closely with vendor partners and practice cybersecurity drills</strong>. Speaking a panel at the <a href="" target="_blank">National Association of Counties 83rd Annual Conference</a> and Exposition in Nashville, Tenn., the officials emphasized that IT departments play a critical role in election security.</p> <p>“IT should be involved now and from election to election, straight across,” said Jennifer Kady, director of security solutions for the U.S. public sector market at <a href="" target="_blank">IBM</a> Security.</p> <p>As more technology gets infused into the election process, IT becomes that much more critical, said Donald Parente, assistant vice president of engineering and architecture for public sector at <a href="" target="_blank">AT&amp;T</a>. IT is “as critical as the person who has the key to the building that the election is held in,” he said, and IT staff must ensure that all election equipment is secure and connected properly.</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>Segment Election Equipment from the Public Internet</h2> <p>For Glenn Angstadt, CIO of <a href="" target="_blank">Chester County</a>, Pa., a key element of election security is <strong>separating — or “air-gapping” — critical infrastructure from the public internet</strong>. He noted on the panel that the county has a setup of four workstations and one server for counting election votes, and those systems are not accessible except from a local network.</p> <p>Chester County does need to get connectivity to the internet to connect with the <a href="" target="_blank">Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office</a>, Angstadt said. The county has developed a <strong>“high-technology thumb drive” </strong>that staff plug into the Election Staff Management System server to extract information, and then plug into an internet-connected device that is used one time to transmit the data. They are then disposed of so that “after that, nothing else is getting back into the voting processing system.”</p> <p>Parente agreed with Angstadt’s approach. “Keeping those devices off the internet has to be the most important thing we can do,” he said.<strong> “If you can’t see it, you can’t hack it.”</strong></p> <p>Parente also said that counties could set up VPNs for election equipment or use a wireless Access Point Name, or APN, to allow counties to “carve out a section of the cellular network” that is dedicated just to their organization, in which the data packets never flow to the internet itself.</p> <h2>Partner with Info-Sharing Organizations and Vendors</h2> <p>Andrew Dolan, director of stakeholder engagement at the <a href="" target="_blank">Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center</a>, which seeks to improve the overall cybersecurity posture of the nation’s state, local, tribal and territorial governments, said the MS-ISAC can provide counties with numerous resources.</p> <p>Those include <strong>incident response services, forensic advisories on cybersecurity vulnerabilities, tabletop exercises </strong>that IT teams can run, and <a href="" target="_blank">monitoring of IP addresses and web domains</a>. All of these services are “opt-in,” meaning counties can use just one service, or dozens of them.</p> <p>Rita Reynolds, CIO of the <a href="" target="_blank">County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania</a>, said a takeaway for county leaders should be that “if you are not a member of MS-ISAC, go back and join.”</p> <p>Every county has a different perspective and budget, Kady said, but often they run into election issues, not because of a malicious attack, but because a process wasn’t followed or a data field wasn’t handled correctly by a piece of software.</p> <p>Counties must <strong>conduct due diligence of technology partners for election equipment and conduct cybersecurity exercises to test for vulnerabilities</strong>, she said. Counties need to work closely with vendors before, during and after elections. Not performing these basics can lead to debacles after elections, she said, adding, “You need to have a playbook in place.”</p> <h2>Blockchain Shows Potential to Verify Voting</h2> <p>Three of the panelists — Parente, Dolan and Kady — said they thought blockchain technology had the potential to help secure elections in the future.</p> <p>The digital ledger technology “will be more about <strong>logging and </strong><strong>verifying</strong><strong> the actual tabulation</strong> than about the storage of data,” Dolan said, noting that “voter registration databases are not going away any time soon.”</p> <p>Counties still need to perform traditional IT security for those databases, including <strong>intrusion detection and training of end users</strong>, he said.</p> <p>Kady said blockchain can provide a “transparent chain of custody” of the voting data. She acknowledged “it will take some time” for the technology to develop and counties to get used to it, but that blockchain will be an element of the “next generation of how we need to think about our elections.”</p> <p><em>Follow </em>StateTech<em> magazine</em><em>'s</em><em> coverage of the NACo 2018 conference at our <a href="" target="_blank">conference landing page</a>.</em></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, 12 Jul 2018 23:21:38 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41091 at NACo Annual Conference 2018 <span>NACo Annual Conference 2018</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Thu, 07/12/2018 - 16:21</span> <div><p>Follow <em>StateTech</em>'s coverage of the <a href="" target="_blank">National Association of Counties 83rd Annual Conference and Exhibition</a> in Columbus, Ohio.</p> </div> <div> <div>Event Image Toggle</div> <div>Off</div> </div> <div class="pw-widget pw-size-medium pw-layout-vertical" data-layout="vertical" data-url="" data-title="NACo Annual Conference 2018" data-via="StateTech" data-button-background="none"> <span> <span>Jul</span> <span>12</span> <span>2018</span> </span> <a class="pw-button-twitter cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-facebook cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-googleplus cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-linkedin cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-reddit cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-flipboard cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-email cdw-taboola-social"></a> <!-- Pinterest button is in EdTechk12 theme's vertical template --> </div> <div class="pw-widget pw-size-medium pw-layout-horizontal" data-counter="true" data-url="" data-title="NACo Annual Conference 2018" data-via="StateTech" data-button-background="none"> <div> <a class="pw-button-twitter cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a href=";" target="_blank"><span class="pw-box-counter cdw-taboola" data-channel="twitter"></span></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-facebook cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-googleplus cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-linkedin cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-reddit cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-flipboard cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-email cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <!-- Pinterest button is in EdTechk12 theme's horizontal template --> </div> <div class="pw-widget pw-size-medium pw-layout-horizontal" data-url="" data-title="NACo Annual Conference 2018" data-via="StateTech" data-button-background="none"> <div> <a class="pw-button-twitter"></a> <span class="pw-box-counter" pw:channel="twitter"></span> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-facebook"></a> <span class="pw-box-counter" pw:channel="facebook"></span> </div> </div> Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:21:10 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41086 at NACo 2018: 5 Ways Counties Can Stay Secure If They Use Foreign Hardware and Software <span>NACo 2018: 5 Ways Counties Can Stay Secure If They Use Foreign Hardware and Software</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/6191" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phil.goldstein_6191</span></span> <span>Thu, 07/12/2018 - 15:51</span> <div><p>There has been a great deal of concern lately regarding how U.S. entities and suppliers work with foreign technology companies, <a href="" target="_blank">with Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE negotiating a deal</a> with the U.S. Commerce Department to lift a ban on ZTE working with American companies.</p> <p>County governments are constantly faced with decisions about which IT solutions they deploy to drive innovation and help residents. While many try to buy American-made technology products and services, they often do purchase foreign hardware and software.</p> <p>There are <strong>several best practices that county IT leaders can follow</strong> to ensure that all of their technology solutions — whether foreign-made or not — are as secure as possible, and how they can respond if they do run into a cybersecurity issue. County IT leaders and technology experts, speaking on a panel at <a href="" target="_blank">the National Association of Counties 83rd Annual Conference and Exposition</a> in Nashville, Tenn., said that county governments <strong>must always be vigilant around IT security, no matter where they get their hardware and software</strong>.</p> <p>The best practices include vetting IT solutions, following cybersecurity frameworks, holding vendors accountable, ensuring that cybersecurity is part of every solution, and having an incident response team and plan in place. Here is a primer on the advice the experts offered.</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>1. Ensure IT Solutions Comply with Cybersecurity Requirements</h2> <p>Michael Dent, CISO of <a href="" target="_blank">Fairfax County</a>, Va., noted that the county tries to buy American-made IT products and services, but it’s sometimes difficult to do since there are so many foreign companies involved in the world today. The key is that the county has a vetting process when it purchases solutions and products, and it <strong>ensures that they adhere to the county’s own standards and policies</strong>.</p> <p>“What is the solution for? What is the data it is going to be accessing?” Dent said.</p> <p>Fairfax County uses the same standards as the federal government’s <a href="" target="_blank">Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program</a> (FedRAMP) to vet cloud services, Dent said. FedRAMP provides a consistent process for the evaluation and approval of cloud vendors across federal agencies, relieving agencies of the burden of independently evaluating vendor security practices and providing a common level of vendor assurance across the federal government.</p> <p>Dent said the county asks cloud vendors if they are certified through FedRAMP. “If they say ‘no,’ then <strong>we have to do a lot more on the back end to ensure we’re getting what we want from a cyber perspective</strong>,” he said.</p> <p>Darren May, CISO for <a href="" target="_blank">Tarrant County</a>, Texas, said the county has an acceptable-use policy for its IT solutions. Government users are not allowed to bring software or hardware from home into the county’s IT environment, he said, adding that the county has a “tight vetting system.”</p> <p>If someone is trying to buy an IT service, the request is routed through the county’s enterprise resource planning system. May and the county’s IT business manager review those requests to <strong>ensure that any software is on the county’s whitelist</strong> and whether the county already has such a solution in-house. “We will literally hold up a purchase order,” he said.</p> <h2>2. Follow the Advice of Cybersecurity Frameworks</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The National Institute of Standards and Technology</a> publishes a <a href="" target="_blank">Cybersecurity Framework</a> (CSF) with comprehensive guidance on cybersecurity issues that can form <strong>the foundation of any cybersecurity program in the public or private sectors</strong>. This framework classifies cybersecurity activities into five major functions:</p> <ul><li>Identify</li> <li>Protect</li> <li>Detect</li> <li>Respond</li> <li>Recover</li> </ul><p>The CSF then provides policies, standards and best practices for organizations to follow as they implement and manage each of those five cybersecurity functions.</p> <p>Jennifer Kady, director of security solutions for the U.S. public-sector market at <a href="" target="_blank">IBM</a> Security, noted on the panel that while “no one likes to be regulated,” the NIST CSF provides <strong>a “great framework” for cybersecurity</strong>, especially for identifying and contracting with vendors.</p> <p><img alt="Naco2018-secondary-1.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /><br /><span style="font-size: 11px; line-height: 20.8px;">From left: Stefanie Dreyer, Michael Dent, Andrew Dolan, Jennifer Kady and Darren May discuss cybersecurity at NACo 2018. Photo: Phil Goldstein</span></p> <p>Andrew Dolan, director of stakeholder engagement at the <a href="" target="_blank">Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center</a>, which seeks to improve the overall cybersecurity posture of the nation’s state, local, tribal and territorial governments, noted that there are other frameworks that county governments can follow. For example, <a href="" target="_blank">the Center for Internet Security</a>, which manages the MS-ISAC where Dolan works, offers <a href="" target="_blank">a set of critical security controls</a>.</p> <p>“These types of roadmaps are the kinds of things we need to be getting behind,” he said.</p> <h2>3. Hold Technology Vendor Partners Accountable</h2> <p>County governments should also<strong> hold all of their technology partners accountable</strong>, Kady said.</p> <p>Vendors should be able to show IT leaders where solutions are manufactured, who is manufacturing it, and which entities have access to any software that goes into the products. The same is true for cloud vendors, she said. They must be able to show counties how cloud services are secured.</p> <p>“County governments have a right to understand” all of that information, Kady said.</p> <p>Dent said Fairfax County has a cybersecurity checklist and makes sure that all prospective vendors fill it out. “Whatever goes in my enterprise <strong>has to meet certain standards and attest to my policy,</strong>” he said. “I don’t care if it’s coming from the U.S. or a foreign country,” he said, adding that, unfortunately, many American IT products “still have a lot of problems.”</p> <h2>4. Bake Cybersecurity into All IT Devices and Services</h2> <p>Counties should take a <strong>“defense in depth” </strong>approach to all of their IT solutions, Dent said. Cybersecurity needs to be layered and applied to all technology solutions.</p> <p>“If you issue cell phones and mobile devices, you need to put on anti-virus and anti-malware” software, he said. “When you are deciding to use technology, you have got to remember the cyber piece of that.”</p> <p>Beyond technologies like firewalls, county governments also need to <strong>raise awareness and ensure employees are practicing good </strong><strong>cyberhygiene</strong>. “Employees are the weakest link,” Dent said, adding jokingly, “Technology can’t fix stupid.”</p> <h2>5. Create (and Practice) a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan</h2> <p>If there is a cybersecurity incident, counties must act quickly, Kady said, not only to save money but to maintain the confidence of county residents. Even if there’s no malicious attack, if a server just ran out of storage and caused a website to go down, counties must respond quickly because perception can become reality.</p> <p>“The quicker you are to be able to respond and react and have an action plan, the better you are going to be at safeguarding that constituency,” she said, emphasizing that <strong>speed and pre-planning are key</strong>.</p> <p>Counties should have emergency response teams in place or contract with companies like IBM to get those services. However, counties must also <strong>perform tabletop cybersecurity exercises ahead of time and conduct security testing</strong>.</p> <p>Dent agreed that incident response plans are critical. Fairfax County has such a plan it can invoke at any time and that it practices.</p> <p>“If you’re a small jurisdictional and you don’t have a cyber office or team, you need to look out there and find what companies can provide those services,” he said. “<strong>It gets more expensive if you wait until a breach occurs</strong> than if you get that in place ahead of time.”</p> <p>The ransomware attack that hit Atlanta’s city government earlier this year <a href="" target="_blank">cost the city about $2.7 million</a>, Dolan noted. “This is something that costs you,” he said. “You need to know who your first few calls are going to be.”</p> <p>Dolan said counties need to look at incidents as a way to focus on how they can improve cybersecurity. “These things are going to keep happening,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re improving after each one.”</p> <p>Often after a cybersecurity incident, whether it is small or large, “people forget to come back together and<strong> talk about what happened and how you can be better</strong>,” May said, adding that county IT security teams must hold those post-mortem meetings to improve their security.</p> <p><em>Follow </em>StateTech<em> magazine</em><em>'s</em><em> coverage of the NACo 2018 conference at our <a href="" target="_blank">conference landing page</a>.</em></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, 12 Jul 2018 19:51:52 +0000 phil.goldstein_6191 41081 at How to Build a Stronger Business Case for State and City Tech Upgrades <span>How to Build a Stronger Business Case for State and City Tech Upgrades</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/22746" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="juliet.vanwagenen_22746">juliet.vanwage…</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:24</span> <div><p>The coastal municipality of Bridgeport, Conn., was concerned with flooding in some areas of the city when bad weather struck. To keep an eye on those areas remotely, it sought to <strong>install a video surveillance system</strong>. But city leaders quickly discovered that they lacked the network infrastructure to fully support video transmission.</p> <p>“It just wasn’t going to happen with our current network infrastructure — before the upgrade was completed, we had to bypass some switches to get bandwidth we needed,” says Adam Heller, Bridgeport’s director of IT ­services. “In the funding discussion, I explained that better equipment was going to mean more information about vulnerable areas of the city. When you put it in business terms, people understand how the technology impacts their jobs, especially public safety.”</p> <p>The city’s IT team previously maintained critical government and citizen services with existing technology, making upgrade proposals less urgent than other projects vying for funding, Heller says. That had to change to provide the <strong>146,000 residents</strong> of the city with the new video surveillance system. So in 2017, after a decade of maintaining legacy network infrastructure, Bridgeport began installing new Brocade <a href="" target="_blank">Ruckus switches</a>.</p> <p>Some jurisdictions may push the envelope for a major refresh, but waiting until there’s a compelling use case for new technology often makes more sense. Timing in making a business case often paves the way for successful technology upgrades across a state or local enterprise. Many find success when they focus on beneficial use cases rather than following those artificial refresh cycles.</p> <p>Organizations should also develop criteria for what it means to fail, providing clear indications of when it’s time for an upgrade, says Andre Kindness, principal analyst at Forrester Research.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Peterson-Quote.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>“Too many organizations feel pressured to upgrade because of an artificial perception of a <strong>five- to seven-year refresh</strong> cycle,” Kindness says. “There are good reasons to upgrade even if technology is working, such as the end of vendor support, which means no more patches or security fixes. But if that’s not what’s going on, a business case should drive the upgrade.”</p> <p>“Clear guidelines can eliminate unnecessary refreshes as well as time spent making do with faltering technology,” he says.</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 id="toc_0">Modernized IT Offers Bridgeport New Benefits</h2> <p>Last year, Bridgeport also began ­implementing a new 911 dispatch system, and Heller was able to make the case that virtualizing the city’s data centers would provide the agility needed to make the emergency call system work. The resulting <a href="" target="_blank">VMware vSphere with Operations Manager</a> (vSOM) implementation reduced Bridgeport’s physical server footprint from <strong>45 physical servers to 16 hosts</strong>, Heller says.</p> <p>“We can now spin up servers at will without worrying about purchasing hardware, performance is improved, backups are better and easier, and we have more visibility into the environment,” Heller says. “The dispatch system gave a us a good reason to virtualize. We extended the implementation to everything in the data center, and we’re seeing wide-ranging benefits.”</p> <p>Benefits from the new Ruckus switches won’t be fully realized until Bridgeport completes a planned move to a hybrid broadband arrangement with a new WAN service provider and a private fiber connection, Heller says; however, the new switches have already improved bandwidth on some of the most trouble-prone segments of the network.</p> <h2 id="toc_1">Eau Claire Strategizes IT to Prepare for the Future</h2> <p>Eau Claire, Wis., belongs to an area ­networking consortium that plans to<strong> upgrade its shared 4G wireless network</strong> from WiMax to Long Term Evolution technology, but not soon enough to meet the city’s needs, says John LeBrun, IT manager for the municipality. The city completed the upgrade on its segment of the network on its own this spring.</p> <p>“The LTE enhancements for frequency reuse and increased bandwidth were important considerations for new applications we wanted to deploy,” LeBrun says.</p> <p>Other factors that prompted the project were also typical of those in most upgrade decisions, LeBrun says.</p> <p>The city’s WiMax equipment was reaching the end of its useful life and, once the new LTE open standard was released, the manufacture of new WiMax equipment stopped. Eau Claire’s use of the wireless network was steadily expanding, and devices are now being manufactured for the new LTE standard. The cost of LTE components and compatible devices is dropping, LeBrun says.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Peterson-elpunto.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>To execute the project, the Eau Claire IT team updated and reconfigured the core network, swapped out WiMax tower equipment for LTE tower equipment, and learned the new management software. Mission-critical applications, such as those used in public safety vehicles, were upgraded to work with WiMax and LTE in advance of the LTE upgrade.</p> <p>“As a new technology becomes available, it will be only a matter of time before it is something we will need to incorporate into our systems,” LeBrun says. “The upgrade to support the new technology needs to be in place before the user groups are ready to adopt it.”</p> <p>Pressing upgrades should move up the priority list, but generally an update strategy should look ahead, LeBrun says.</p> <p>“The expected evolution of technology needs to be considered,” he says. “What is done today needs to support the requirements of tomorrow.”</p> <h2 id="toc_2">Successful IT Upgrades Focus on Stakeholders</h2> <p>The best business case demonstrates improved services and greater cost effectiveness for IT stakeholders. With that in mind, North Dakota continues to undertake innovative IT projects, says Duane Schell, the state’s director for network services.</p> <p>“We have <strong>moved email to the cloud</strong>, along with some of our infrastructure services,” Schell says. “We are evaluating our entire technology stack, analyzing what the best source is for the services we offer and will offer in the future.”</p> <p>The state’s IT managers are aggressively exploring cloud computing options for opportunities to be more agile and efficient and to align more closely with stakeholders’ needs, Schell says. In preparing to meet future IT requirements, the state maintains strong partnerships with technology ­manufacturers, such as <a href="" target="_blank">HPE</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">IBM</a> on the processing side, <a href=";ctlgfilter=&amp;searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">Extreme Networks</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Juniper Networks</a> for networking, and Palo Alto Networks for security. But it also has a heterogeneous computing environment built on finding technology that fits the job at hand, Schell says.</p> <p>The decision about whether an infrastructure upgrade is needed comes down to a few questions: “Do we have concerns about support or capacity? Is it still cost-effective?</p> <p>“Do we have the infrastructure in place to allow stakeholders to transform their business with technology and fulfill their missions in serving the citizens of the state?” Schell asks. “If the answer to any of those is ‘no,’ then it’s time for an upgrade.”</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/tommy-peterson"> <div>Tommy Peterson</div> </a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Tommy Peterson is a freelance journalist who specializes in business and technology and is a frequent contributor to the CDW family of technology magazines.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 11 Jul 2018 15:24:30 +0000 juliet.vanwagenen_22746 41076 at Data Analysis Opens Doors for New Outcomes at State and Local Agencies <span>Data Analysis Opens Doors for New Outcomes at State and Local Agencies</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/22746" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="juliet.vanwagenen_22746">juliet.vanwage…</span></span> <span>Tue, 07/10/2018 - 09:31</span> <div><p>Mark Greenwald, director of research and data integrity for the <a href="" target="_blank">Florida Department of Juvenile Justice</a>, compares disposition hearings for juvenile offenders to a multiple-path storybook: Different choices are certain to lead to vastly different outcomes, and judges must make momentous decisions with only the limited information available to them.</p> <p>Greenwald’s job is to make that information as <strong>accurate, complete and relevant</strong> as possible.</p> <p>“It’s the same concept as a Choose Your Own Adventure book,” he says. “We just use math to determine which tunnel to go down.”</p> <p>Like the FDJJ, many state and local agencies have made a deliberate effort in recent years to <strong>incorporate data into their decision-making processes</strong>. Part of that effort involves shoe-leather data collection through questionnaires and rigorous case reporting. But such initiatives also rely on <strong>robust analytics</strong>.</p> <h2 id="toc_0">Justice Departments Jump-start City Analytics</h2> <p>The FDJJ uses <a href="" target="_blank">Tableau</a> analytics software, which helps Greenwald to<strong> easily crunch the numbers</strong> on factors such as the typical outcomes for certain treatments or custody recommendations for juvenile offenders — and then make the results accessible to judges, attorneys, case workers and other department personnel.</p> <p>“Someone might have a feeling that youth with certain types of offenses might need to be in residential commitment,” Greenwald says. “But our research might say that lower-risk kids tend to do better in the community if they have appropriate services. We would go in and use our data to show, ‘Here are <strong>examples of similar kids</strong>, here are other pathways we took, and here are the outcomes we got.’”</p> <p>Initially, Greenwald says, the department adopted Tableau to <strong>streamline reporting</strong>. Previously, the state’s delinquency profile report — which tracks arrests and intervention measures for various offenses, locations and population subgroups — was produced using Microsoft Excel.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Hennick-quote.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11px; line-height: 20.8px;">Photography by Ryan Ketterman.</span></p> <p>“It was a little bit clunky. It wasn’t very pretty, and it took a lot of time to produce,” Greenwald recalls. “We wanted something that was easier to use.”</p> <p>Other agencies also have discovered great efficiencies with data analytics tools while improving the quality of service they provide to the public. For example, the <a href="" target="_blank">Chandler (Ariz.) Police Department</a> adopted the analytics tool Splunk to facilitate delivery of police-related services. With Splunk, the department has seen more effective allocation of resources and faster response times for police.</p> <p>“Before, if you wanted to audit a user’s activity, you had to run queries in several locations and then compile them all together manually,” says Bill Edel, technology manager for the department. “With Splunk, we automatically dump all logs into the product and create queries and reports to display them as one.”</p> <p>The Chandler Police Department also uses Tableau for <strong>public reporting</strong>. The police website at data provides free and open access to the public for information such as arrest records, calls for service and use of force.</p> <p>“This site provides an open data-sharing opportunity for the community to see already-produced visualizations of our data. They can download data to use themselves in their own tools or even an API where developers can have their programs automatically grab our data daily and include in their processes,” Edel says.</p> <p>Shawn P. McCarthy, research director for IDC Government Insights, says that <strong>cities often start their analytics efforts in the police department</strong>.</p> <p>“One quick data analytics project that many local governments tend to tackle is to see crime patterns overlaid on a map with additional information, such as time of day or type of crime,” he says. “This can help police departments target their policing efforts in a more cost-effective manner.”</p> <h2 id="toc_1">Data Lets Departments Discover New Benefits</h2> <p>Cities are also using analytics tools for such things as<strong> tracking overtime</strong> to find more efficient staffing options and <strong>adjusting traffic lights</strong> to improve the flow of rush-hour traffic, McCarthy says. “I’ve even seen cities develop analytical modes that enhanced food inspection processes and sped up how the cities react to food ­service or health violations.”</p> <p>The Chandler Police Department occasionally extends its use of Splunk to assist with criminal cases. For example, police can trace mentions of suspects matching a certain description by searching 911 call logs to uncover relevant information.</p> <p>“We’re throwing all sorts of data into it,” Edel says. “We can do counts from calls for service, number of follow-ups, caseloads for detectives. But we can also dump in the actual text of things — all text for 911 calls. We can search back for certain time frames for anything that referred to a particular person or vehicle. I think the potential is there for more use in those areas.”</p> <p>He adds, “It queries bulk data so fast. You could throw <strong>5 million records</strong> at it, and it will index and <strong>query all of them in a matter of minutes</strong>.”</p> <p>Data analytics help agencies uncover new ways of approaching challenges through a deeper understanding of their environment. At the <a href="" target="_blank">Brooklyn Public Library</a>, officials encourage workers to find <strong>creative new use cases</strong> for Tableau, which the organization has been using for several years. Workers have come up with ideas that help branch libraries better understand and serve their communities, says Diana Plunkett, manager of strategic initiatives for the library.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Henick-elpunto.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>“One branch realized through demographic information that there were more teens in the neighborhood than they had realized, because they weren’t seeing them at the library,” Plunkett says. “They started to ask, how can we reach the segments of the community that aren’t coming into the branch? What can we do in terms of outreach? Having a <strong>better understanding</strong> of who’s in the community, even if they aren’t walking through the door, is a big part of it.”</p> <p>Another branch looked at circulation statistics and reorganized shelf space to reflect borrowers’ preferences, and another used borrowing data to help inform a planned renovation.</p> <p>“<strong>Without hard data, you rely on anecdotes</strong>,” Plunkett says. “Making information available is what we’ve done for a hundred years. This is just using tools to do it internally.”</p> <h2 id="toc_2">Data Helps Tip the Scales for Local Agencies</h2> <p>Analytics will play a growing role in government in the coming years, Edel predicts. “I’ve been in this business for about <strong>30 years</strong>, and it’s just ever-increasing,” he says. “The ability to analyze things and help us in policing is astronomical.”</p> <p>The pace of adoption will depend in part, he says, on how <strong>attitudes</strong> toward things like the use of facial recognition technology evolves. “It’s very political, that Big Brother kind of thing. Probably, as people decide they want more security in certain areas, they will start driving that demand.”</p> <p>FDJJ’s Greenwald says one of the biggest benefits of analytics is the ability to <strong>provide the public with ready access to information</strong> about the work that government agencies are doing. But, he says, the metrics also help to increase accountability and drive progress within the agencies themselves.</p> <p>“I’m a big believer that <strong>what gets measured gets done</strong>,” Greenwald says. “When you’re collecting data on something, people tend to pay attention to it.” “Most of our metrics are moving in the right direction,” he adds. “If they aren’t, we start drilling into it and try to determine what’s going on.”</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/calvin-hennick"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/calvin-hennick"> <div>Calvin Hennick</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=calvinhennick&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Calvin Hennick is a freelance journalist who specializes in business and technology writing. He is a contributor to the CDW family of technology magazines.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 10 Jul 2018 13:31:17 +0000 juliet.vanwagenen_22746 41071 at The Gig Economy Gets a Boost Thanks to Public Library Tech Upgrades <span>The Gig Economy Gets a Boost Thanks to Public Library Tech Upgrades</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/22746" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="juliet.vanwagenen_22746">juliet.vanwage…</span></span> <span>Mon, 07/09/2018 - 13:48</span> <div><p>Morris County, N.J., lies about <strong>25 miles west of New York City</strong>, offering affordable suburban living in the shadow of Big Apple enterprise. The proximity may fuel aspirations and dreams, making northern New Jersey a popular place to <strong>start a business or work remotely</strong>.</p> <p>To keep pace with regional residents’ expectations, <strong>38 public libraries</strong> in Morris, Somerset and Warren counties banded together as a consortium, the <a href="" target="_blank">Morris Automated Information Network</a>. MAIN invests in technology upgrades that benefit the community, while keeping an eye on workers who may seek to establish themselves locally rather than commute to the crowded city.</p> <p>Chad Leinaweaver, director of the <a href="" target="_blank">Morristown &amp; Township Library</a> (a MAIN member), sees these business aspirants on a <strong>daily basis</strong>.</p> <p>For the past few years, a pair of<strong> videographers</strong> have turned to the Morristown Library’s business facilities, using the library’s<strong> Wi-Fi network and conference rooms</strong> to edit clips, assemble stories and send finished reports to their editors to cover local news stories for a broadcast news agency.</p> <p>“The library acts as a central meeting location that <strong>helps the freelancers meet their production deadlines</strong> and keep in the loop for new assignments,” Leinaweaver says.</p> <p>The videographers are part of a growing economic force. Freelance graphic designers, food truck chefs, app developers and crafters of organic personal care products are among those who work as part of a thriving subset of local economies across the country. The number of those gig workers — independent contractors and contingent workers — <strong>rose from 10.7 percent to 15.8 percent of the U.S. economy</strong> from 2005 to 2015, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the National Bureau of Economic Research</a>.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Joch-elpunto.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>Such microbusinesses may have small budgets, but their <strong>appetite for technology and business management expertise is huge</strong>. In response, a growing number of public libraries are catering to that dynamic economic force, offering specialized workspaces, and in the process, redefining (again) the role of libraries in the digital age.</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 id="toc_0">New Jersey Libraries Stock Up with Tech for Freelancers</h2> <p>The libraries within the MAIN consortium take the business-mentor role to heart. Some have established meeting rooms equipped with <strong>computers, Wi-Fi networks, </strong><strong>videoconferencing</strong><strong> capabilities, printers and other business essentials</strong>. MAIN makes group purchases for members, and passes on the hardware and software costs without a markup. Its three-person IT staff then images and installs computers and provides hardware support for five years, reducing staff expenses for individual libraries. Libraries that choose to join MAIN contribute to its <strong>$1.2 million operating budget</strong>.</p> <p>“By pooling library resources, the consortium gains leverage when negotiating with IT vendors,” says Phillip Berg, MAIN’s executive director. “We make it possible for libraries to buy technology that would ordinarily be out of their price range.”</p> <p>The latest project brought <strong>36</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Cisco Meraki MX64</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">MX84 firewall appliances</a> to members, an implementation that includes a <a href="" target="_blank">Cisco</a> maintenance contract and a <strong>cloud-based, centralized management application for network administration</strong>.</p> <p>“We have a lot of severe storms in northwestern New Jersey, so dealing with power outages is an ongoing issue,” Berg says. “Centralized administration enables us to view the status of the various firewalls without having to log in remotely.”</p> <p>In addition to networking gear, MAIN also recently purchased <a href="" target="_blank">Dell OptiPlex</a> desktops and <a href="" target="_blank">Latitude laptop</a> computers, and <a href="" target="_blank">HP LaserJet Pro M402</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Color M452</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">M477</a> printers. Those <strong>new desktops provide ready workstations for freelancers</strong> like the news videographers editing clips at the Morristown Library.</p> <p>For the future, the MAIN staff is evaluating <strong>wireless receipt printers and barcode scanners</strong> that will allow library staff to “cut the cord and get out from behind the desk,” Berg says. “We’re not far from the time when library staff will be available throughout the business section with tablets and mobile scanners to help people quickly find the resources they need and check out materials — all done wirelessly.”</p> <h2 id="toc_1">Texas Libraries Embrace a Tech-Focused Use of Space</h2> <p>New Jersey libraries aren’t the only ones responding to the growing gig economy. A similar effort is underway at the <a href="" target="_blank">Dallas Public Library</a>, where bookshelves covering <strong>25,000 square feet of the main library</strong> were removed to make room for meeting spaces and shared business equipment.</p> <p>“I’m sure I gave multiple librarians heart attacks when we did this,” says Mary Jo Giudice, the library director and renovation master.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Joch-quote.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>Bookshelves weren’t the only things to go; rules against food and drink also went by the wayside. One new program allows young developers to show off their latest apps and receive feedback from peers, with beer served afterward.</p> <p>“We’re <strong>stepping out of the box</strong> of most people’s perceptions of a library,” Giudice says. A fresh approach to library services directly benefits gig workers. A <a href="" target="_blank">November 2017 report on gig economy trends from the National Association of Counties</a> advises local governments on how to support gig workers, and one way they can surely do so is by providing them with a <strong>comfortable and flexible physical space</strong> in which to work.</p> <p>The Dallas Public Library’s gig resources are part of the new <a href="" target="_blank">Sammons Small Business Center</a>, co-founded with the city’s <a href="" target="_blank">Office of Economic Development</a> and a contribution from Sammons Enterprises, a diversified holding company with roots in the Dallas community. Taking up the remodeled fifth floor of the main downtown library, the business center provides comfortable working spaces equipped with four-seater tables, conference rooms and a variety of core technology capabilities, including Wi-Fi access, <a href="" target="_blank">Dell</a> desktop PCs and <a href="" target="_blank">Chromebooks</a>, scanners, and other tools.</p> <h2 id="toc_2">Dallas Libraries Provide Businesses with a Place to Grow</h2> <p>The Sammons Small Business Center gives Dallas-area gig workers access to <strong>desktop computers, conference space </strong><strong>and</strong><strong> tabletops</strong>, but it also provides them with other resources. Library patrons can book meetings to talk with clients and partners, borrow laptops for business communication and scan documents to cloud-based accounts like <a href="" target="_blank">Google</a> Drive.</p> <p>Those interested in learning new skills and keeping up with industry and customer trends can access educational materials at the center. Gig workers, as independent contractors, also can use <strong>business planning software</strong> and more to support their growth through the Dallas Business Resource and Information Network, ultimately fulfilling the goal of the Sammons Small Business Center to <strong>support entrepreneurs</strong> in Dallas.</p> <p>Giudice says the Dallas Public Libraries didn’t have a unique advantage for rolling out services tailored to gig workers. “I feel like it’s an <strong>easy, replicable process for other public libraries</strong>,” she says. “You just need space and the ability to build relationships. Then, relax your old, library-esque rules and let local gig workers know what you can offer them.”</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/alan-joch"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/alan-joch"> <div>Alan Joch</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=alanallegro&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Alan Joch has been an independent business and technology writer for more than a decade. His expertise includes server and desktop virtualization, cloud computing, emerging mobile applications, and cybersecurity.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 09 Jul 2018 17:48:50 +0000 juliet.vanwagenen_22746 41066 at Review: SonicWall TZ400 Provides Local Governments with Deep, Frontline Protection <span>Review: SonicWall TZ400 Provides Local Governments with Deep, Frontline Protection</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/22746" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="juliet.vanwagenen_22746">juliet.vanwage…</span></span> <span>Fri, 07/06/2018 - 11:39</span> <div><p>The types of cyberthreats facing state and local governments are just as perilous as those aimed at large corporations or the federal government. Government organizations overall face a growing number of ransomware attacks, second only to educational institutions, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">2016 report by risk management firm BitSight</a>.</p> <p>Unlike corporations or the federal government, however, <strong>most states don’t have millions of dollars to spend on cybersecurity tools and manpower</strong>. For those on a tighter budget, the new TZ series of security appliances from SonicWall provides deep, frontline protection with less day-to-day management required.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">SonicWall’s TZ400</a> security appliance is a perfect example.</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 id="toc_0">Leverage Services for Better Government Security</h2> <p>The device acts as an <strong>advanced inspection point</strong> examining all traffic coming into a protected network. Installed at network gateways, the TZ400 would be suitable for branch offices with as many as <strong>100 employees</strong> (larger models are also available).</p> <p>The secret to the TZ400 is that it <strong>leverages hardware, software and the cloud</strong>, with some services installed directly on the box and the bulk of the threat definitions stored in the cloud. In testing, it was able to perform deep-packet inspection, including encrypted Secure Sockets Layer connections, without ­adding any network latency to a midsized testbed of users.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">SonicWall’s Comprehensive Gateway Security Suite </a>enables the TZ400 to perform anti-malware, anti-spyware, intrusion prevention and content/URL filtering as a service, with the latest threat definitions delivered continuously to the box. For email ­protection, the SonicWall Comprehensive Anti-Spam Service filters out phishing attacks and mail with malicious attachments.</p> <h2 id="toc_1">Take Control of Security with Professional Analysis</h2> <p>Most of those services are conducted automatically, although administrators remain in full control. IT security professionals can also use the SonicWall Analyzer program to examine ­traffic flow patterns for advanced cybersecurity practices, such as threat hunting.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_PR-Breeden-SonicWall-TZ400_product.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>The TZ400 provides <strong>advanced security without the need for constant management</strong>. As a first line of defense, it’s about as complete as it gets.</p> <h2 id="toc_2">Protection That Goes Above and Beyond for States and Localities</h2> <p>The SonicWall TZ400 security appliance, in conjunction with the Comprehensive Gateway Security Suite bundle, can protect state and local government users sitting at their desks behind the next-generation firewall. It offers anti-malware, anti-spyware, intrusion prevention and, if configured for it, anti-spam and protection against incoming email-based threats.</p> <p>But what about users who telecommute, or whose jobs require them to work in the field? Given that many workers in state government — such as inspectors, social workers or even law enforcement officers — don’t spend all their time at a desk, it’s an important consideration.</p> <p>The TZ400 can protect them too, in three specific ways. First, the TZ400 <strong>allows remote users to set up a VPN </strong>secure tunnel back into the home network. Each TZ400 can support <strong>20 site-to-site VPN connections</strong> simultaneously.</p> <p>Remote users can also be equipped with the optional SonicWall Anti-Spam Desktop, which works with any Microsoft Windows–based client. Installed as a plug-in to <a href="" target="_blank">Outlook</a>, Outlook Express or Windows Mail, the Anti-Spam Desktop provides remote users with protection similar to that what they’d have if working in the office behind a TZ400 firewall with the SonicWall Comprehensive Anti-Spam Service. The program <strong>detects phishing emails, spam </strong><strong>and</strong><strong> mail</strong> with malicious attachments, and they never make it into the client’s mailbox.</p> <p>Finally, the Enforced Client Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware Software works to guard both remote users and the core network by enforcing security policies on every client that connects to a protected network. It works with any SonicWall firewall, including the TZ400, to detect whether clients are running the latest versions of anti-virus and anti-spyware. If they don’t have protection — or their protection is out of date — the TZ400 will force them to <strong>install or update that protection before granting access to network resources</strong>.</p> <p>Protecting those behind a firewall is critical, but SonicWall also <strong>helps those who don’t always sit at an office desk</strong>, something that many state governments and their employees should appreciate.</p> <h3 id="toc_0">The SonicWall TZ400</h3> <p><strong>Processor</strong>: 800MHz<br /><strong>Firewall Data Transfer Rate</strong>: 1.3Gbps<br /><strong>Anti-Malware Throughput</strong>: 900Mbps<br /><strong>Maximum Connections</strong>: 6,000 per second<br /><strong>Dimensions</strong>: 5.3x7.5x1.4 inches<br /><strong>Weight</strong>: 1.59 pounds</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/john-breeden-ii"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/john-breeden-ii"> <div>John Breeden II</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=LabGuys&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>John Breeden II is an award-winning reviewer and public speaker with 20 years of experience covering technology.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 06 Jul 2018 15:39:55 +0000 juliet.vanwagenen_22746 41061 at Cities on the Rebound Call on Improved IT Services to Smooth the Path to Success <span>Cities on the Rebound Call on Improved IT Services to Smooth the Path to Success</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/22746" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="juliet.vanwagenen_22746">juliet.vanwage…</span></span> <span>Tue, 07/03/2018 - 18:52</span> <div><p>In July 2013, Detroit was in trouble: High unemployment, a shrinking tax base and crippling pension liabilities brought this city of 700,000 to its knees. Citing more than <strong>$18 billion in debt</strong>, Detroit became the largest U.S. municipality to file for Chapter 9 ­bankruptcy protection.</p> <p>Eighteen months later, the city emerged from bankruptcy; last April, it was released from state financial oversight. While debt restructuring and belt tightening were essential to the city’s recovery, a major tech overhaul also played a key role.</p> <p>When cities suffer rough times economically, their <strong>IT infrastructure often takes a tough hit</strong>, early. Technology moves quickly, and citizens expect experiences from their government that mirror their preferences as consumers. But there’s no surer sign that a city’s budget has rebounded than evidence of robust IT services capable of meeting the demands of civic leaders and residents alike. Once a city recovers, it can quickly meet the needs of its inhabitants and employees through technology upgrades.</p> <p>While Detroit is the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy, it’s hardly the only one. <strong>Eight</strong> other city or county governments have filed for bankruptcy since 2010, including Stockton, Calif., and Harrisburg, Pa. Others, like Atlantic City, N.J., and Providence, R.I., spent years teetering on the brink.</p> <h2 id="toc_0">Tech Offers Solutions to Cities in Tough Spots</h2> <p>When Beth Niblock took over as Detroit CIO in February 2014, she inherited an infrastructure in need of refreshing.</p> <p>“The infrastructure hadn’t had a lot of investments due to the declining revenues of the city,” Niblock says. “Most of our computer fleet were on Windows XP or older, which we couldn’t patch. There were various versions of Office, so how old your Office version was determined whether you could open email attachments. The network wasn’t as robust as it needed to be. Everything was just <strong>10 or 12 years older</strong> than it should have been.”</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Tynan-Niblock.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11px; line-height: 20.8px;">When Beth Niblock took over as Detroit CIO in February 2014, she inherited an infrastructure that hadn’t been refreshed for almost a dozen years. Photography by Matthew LaVere. </span></p> <p>The first change she made was to move from Novell Directory Services to Windows Active Directory. IT replaced all <strong>5,500 desktops</strong> with <a href="" target="_blank">HP</a> machines and <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Surface </a><a href="" target="_blank">Pros</a>, and signed a licensing agreement with <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> to put everyone on the same version of Office. They upgraded the network switches and extended Wi-Fi to all city-owned buildings in Detroit’s government center.</p> <p>Detroit adopted a cloud-based <a href=";ctlgfilter=&amp;searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">Oracle</a> enterprise resource planning system to manage its budgeting and procurement, and it continues to shift payroll and the city’s buildings and permits system to the cloud, Niblock says.</p> <p><strong>Citizen-facing technology also received a boost</strong>. A mobile 311 app, Improve Detroit, allows citizens to notify city departments about issues that need to be resolved. The city has introduced parking and transit apps, and upgraded its website to be more mobile-friendly and accept online payments. It has also deployed payment kiosks in a variety of locations, so people who want to pay their water or utility bills in cash can do so in their neighborhood instead of driving to city hall.</p> <h2 id="toc_1">Funding for IT Offers Detroit a Way Forward</h2> <p>A bankruptcy court approved <strong>$90 million</strong> for Detroit to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure, including $29 million for a new enterprise resource planning system and<strong> $25 million to replace aging Windows desktops, software and networking</strong>. At the time, the city had three major technology needs, says Kevin Hand, a managing director for financial advisory firm Conway MacKenzie, which specializes in helping distressed organizations emerge from bankruptcy and which acted as a consultant for Detroit.</p> <p>“The first was making sure the city had current information systems they could access efficiently using the people they had,” he says. “The second was operational — specialty systems needed by each department to do its job. The last piece was things that would make it easier for people who lived in the city to interact with government and get the services they needed.”</p> <p>Applied correctly, the right technology can help to <strong>cut operating costs and gain efficiencies</strong>, says Christiana McFarland, research director for the <a href="" target="_blank">National League of Cities</a>. It can also be essential to restoring faith in gov­ern­ment.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Tynan-quote.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>“A lot of that relies on <strong>transparency</strong>,” says McFarland. “Technology plays a key role in enhancing that. They need to respond to community needs and challenges in real time, and show how well the city is progressing on the key goals that have been established.”</p> <h2 id="toc_2">Providence Jumpstarts Better Services with IT Upgrades</h2> <p>Five years ago, Providence, R.I., faced a <strong>$110 million structural deficit</strong>, what then-Mayor Angel Taveras called a “Category 5 fiscal hurricane.” The capital has posted surpluses over the past two years. Modernizing technology to increase efficiency has been a significant part of Providence’s recovery, says Emmanuel Echevarria, chief innovation and performance officer.</p> <p>“We’re starting to rely more on technology to help us do <strong>financial forecasts</strong>, so we know where to find efficiencies and where we need to balance our budget,” Echevarria says. “We’re also looking at how to map all our technology systems and integrate them better, to reduce the administrative burden on our staff, cut costs and improve quality of services.”</p> <p>For example, digitizing the city’s permit and license procedures made it much <strong>easier for companies to do business</strong> in Providence, he says.</p> <p>“A few years ago, we had one system to apply for a permit, another to review permits, and a third one for reviewing land use records,” Echevarria says.</p> <p>“When someone wanted to start a development project, they had to go to three different places. Now all records go through our e-permitting system. Whether you want to put an addition on your home or build a skyscraper, you apply for all your permits through our cloud site.”</p> <p>Technology slashed the cost of ­processing permits by about <strong>70 percent</strong> and shortened processing times, reducing the backlog of permits awaiting approval, Echevarria says. It worked so well, the city extended the same technology to streamline how it grants business licenses. Now, instead of filing up to <strong>50 pieces of paper</strong> to qualify for a license, citizens need to fill out just<strong> three online forms</strong>.</p> <h2 id="toc_3">Stockton Finds a New Life in Recovery</h2> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">IT Division of Stockton, Calif.</a>, oversees the <strong>City Wide Technology Strategic Plan</strong>, which provides guidance for Stockton’s technology objectives. The city began ­implementing the plan once it emerged from bankruptcy in February 2015.</p> <p>After bankruptcy, the city government shrank while the population continued to grow. While roughly 307,000 people reside in Stockton now, the city <strong>shed 43 percent of its employees</strong> outside of public safety, says City Manager Kurt Wilson.</p> <p><img alt="Q0318-ST_Feat-Tynan-elpunto.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p>“With a <strong>smaller workforce</strong> serving what is now a growing population, we <strong>turned to technology to re-engineer our processes</strong>,” Wilson says. “With financial constraints, I cannot go out and hire another thousand people tomorrow. But we still have to deliver services, and technology has been very helpful in that area citywide.”</p> <p>A revitalized building permitting process makes the case for Wilson. A high volume of permits created backlogs as staff struggled to maintain legacy applications. Homeowners began to avoid seeking permits for construction (a source of revenue for the city) because the process took too long.</p> <p>New software brought new life to the process, and permit revenues began to aid in recovery. To facilitate the transition, Stockton installed a <strong>cloud-based civic engagement system</strong>. The city also will soon implement a new ERP system, through a competitive request for proposals, to help it manage its finances and human resources, Wilson says.</p> <p>Stockton city leaders embraced sweeping technology changes thanks to the bankruptcy process.</p> <p>“Our pre-bankruptcy concept of IT was very territorial and focused on the shiny bells and whistles,” Wilson says. “We finally let that go with the realization that maybe we don’t need to own everything. We can put more services in the cloud. When we made that switch, it was a big deal, and <strong>we finally caught up to the rest of the world</strong>.”</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"> <div id="taxonomy-term-" class=""> <div class="author-photo"> <a href="/author/dan-tynan"><img src="/sites/" width="58" height="58" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </a> </div> <div class="author-info"> <span>by </span><a rel="author" href="/author/dan-tynan"> <div>Dan Tynan</div> </a> <a target="_blank" class="google-plus" href=""><span>Google+</span></a> <a target="_blank" class="twitter" href=";screen_name=tynanwrites&amp;tw_p=followbutton&amp;variant=2.0"><span>Twitter</span></a> </div> <div class="author-bio"> <p> <div><p>Dan Tynan is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. He has won numerous journalism awards and his work has appeared in more than 70 publications, several of them not yet dead.</p> </div> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 03 Jul 2018 22:52:17 +0000 juliet.vanwagenen_22746 41056 at Microsoft Announces End to Security Patches for Windows 7 PCs with Older Processors <span>Microsoft Announces End to Security Patches for Windows 7 PCs with Older Processors</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/22746" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="juliet.vanwagenen_22746">juliet.vanwage…</span></span> <span>Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:39</span> <div><p>For some Windows 7 PCs, the game is up. Although <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> officially will <a href="" target="_blank">support</a> security updates for machines running Windows 7 until Jan. 14, 2020, it has become clear that <strong>the company will not do so for <em>all </em>such devices </strong>— which could leave many in the public sector still working on legacy devices vulnerable.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">In an updated support article on its website</a> that was first widely noticed in late June, Microsoft indicated that, for older Windows 7-based PCs that do not support <strong>Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data Extensions 2 (SSE2)</strong>, it would<strong> no longer provide security patches</strong>. SSE2 allows computer chipsets to process multimedia in parallel, which improves performance. In 2012, the feature became mandatory for processors running Windows.</p> <p>Users of such PCs, which run on now-archaic <a href="" target="_blank">Intel</a> processors (circa early to mid-2000s), have been experiencing a stop error. Previously, <a href="" target="_blank">as ZDNet reports</a>, Microsoft said it was working on a fix for the issue. Now, it is advising users affected to either <strong>“upgrade your machines with a processor that supports SSE2 or virtualize those machines.”</strong></p> <p>It’s unclear how many organizations or machines are affected by this change in stance, which, as ZDNet notes, is allowed under Microsoft’s <a href="" target="_blank">Business, Developer </a><a class="gr-progress" href="" target="_blank">and</a><a href="" target="_blank"> Desktop Operating Systems Policy</a>. “Older products may not meet today’s more demanding security requirements,” the policy reads. “Microsoft may be unable to provide security updates for older products.”</p> <p>However, the change does <strong>provide </strong><strong>fresh</strong><strong> incentive for organizations of all kinds to update their PCs, virtualize them</strong>, or migrate from Windows 7 to <a href="" target="_blank">Windows 10</a>. Updating or virtualizing PCs can enhance an organization’s cybersecurity posture, especially by ensuring that the PCs <strong>continue to receive regular security patches</strong>.</p> <p>Small and medium-sized businesses are more likely to have already done so, according to analysts, but government agencies may be more susceptible. Traditionally, according to <a href="" target="_blank">Linn Huang</a>, a research director at IDC, who covers PCs, thin clients and monitors, <strong>the public sector “is the last to move” </strong>to a new operating system. Luckily, IDC has “seen healthy migration efforts from government and education in play already,” meaning the sector many not be as heavily impacted.</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>Why Some Agencies Wait to Upgrade to Windows 10</h2> <p><a href="">Three years after the debut of Windows 10</a>, Windows 7 still has more market share than the newer platform. According to data from analytics vendor <a href="" target="_blank">Net Applications</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">cited by Computerworld</a>, in May Windows 7 accounted for<strong> 41.8 percent</strong> of the user share of all PCs and<strong> 47.3 percent </strong>of all those running Windows. Windows 10 accounted for <strong>34.7 percent of all PCs and 39.3 percent of all Windows-based PCs</strong>. (<a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft announced in May</a> that nearly 700 million devices now run Windows 10, up from about 500 million in May 2017.)</p> <p>“Broadly speaking, Microsoft has always been challenged in moving the enterprise markets off of older Windows iterations to new ones for a few reasons,” says Huang.</p> <p>Corporate IT departments<strong> generally value stability more than new features </strong>from the latest version of operating systems, Huang says. He adds that OS migrations “can also <strong>get fairly costly</strong> for larger companies.”</p> <p>The effective end-of-support date for Windows 7 in January 2020 is “a means for Microsoft to move the last corners of the corporate world from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and allows it to focus more of its resources on Windows 10, which to its credit has been favorably received by most organizations we’ve talked to.”</p> <p>Another issue, Huang says, is Windows 7’s lack of compatibility on new chipsets, which has been causing “all sorts of driver issues” on PCs. Windows 7 was already proving problematic with Intel’s sixth-generation Skylake processors, according to Huang, but <a href="" target="_blank">PC makers</a> built bridges to<strong> ensure their key devices for the enterprise market would be compatible with Windows 7</strong>. “This has not been the case for the subsequent two generations, so a new PC powered by Intel’s latest processors would likely have to remain Windows 10 when deployed,” he says.</p> <p>A commercial survey IDC fielded in February found that larger enterprises were <strong>49 percent through their migrations to Windows 10</strong>, and <strong>97 percent </strong>expected to be complete within <strong>the next two years</strong>, which will put their migration completions right around the time Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7.</p> <p>In another commercial survey completed last week, according to Huang, IDC asked, “On a scale of 1 (not concerned at all) to 10 (extremely concerned), how concerning is the [end-of-life] date of Windows 7?”</p> <p>The average for large enterprises was 6.5, which Huang describes as a moderate level of concern; 41 percent rated their concern levels an 8 or higher, and 14 percent rated their concerns a 3 or lower.</p> <h2>Security Concerns Drive Windows Upgrades</h2> <p>In short, Huang says, “there is still a significant chunk of the enterprise installed base on Windows 7, and there is legitimate concern on behalf of IT managers to get this done ahead of” the January 2020 deadline. However, it appears most enterprises plan to complete the migration in time.</p> <p>“I believe the corporate migration to Windows 10 has occurred faster than previous iterations,” in part due to <strong>how well Windows 10 has been received by the commercial world</strong>, Huang notes.</p> <p>Importantly, the enhanced security features of Windows 10 and the need for continuous security updates likely are major drivers in the upgrades, Huang says.</p> <p>“A focus on <strong>security and on manageability</strong>, in a world where <strong>CEOs lose their jobs over breaches and the IT </strong><strong>environment</strong><strong> accelerates in its complexity</strong>, has and will continue to prove a winning formula for Microsoft and its users,” Huang says.</p> <p>“The primary challenge has been that most organizations only moved from XP to 7 as late as five years ago and were not planning and budgeting to move to the next iteration for another decade.”</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> Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:39:10 +0000 juliet.vanwagenen_22746 41041 at