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09/30/2020
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WorkScoop

Latest relief bill would give state & local $436B

A revised pandemic relief bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week includes $436 billion in financial support to state, local, tribal and territorial governments, many of which have started making steep budget cuts after months of economic shutdowns caused by the coronavirus bottomed out their tax revenues. While none of that money would be specifically targeted at IT and cybersecurity funding, as groups like NASCIO have asked previously asked, it would be available “to replace foregone revenues," a potential salve at a time when states and cities have started to scale back operations and furlough workers, <a href="https://statescoop.com/facing-budget-shortfalls-cities-begin-furloughing-tech-workers/">including IT staff</a> in some places. Benjamin Freed reports.


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But what does all that air quality data mean?

Raging wildfires have burned through more than five million acres along the Western United States this year, degrading air quality across Oregon, California and Washington for weeks on end. But state officials who have spent years deploying air quality sensors said that improving how that data is shared with residents — not necessarily collecting more data — is what’s needed most now. Christine Kendrick, Portland’s smart city coordinator, gave StateScoop a tour of some of the challenges that come with sorting through this type of data, like distinguishing between commercial and government-operated sensors and the importance of establishing a single trusted source of information. Ryan Johnston reports.


What (or who) caused Monday's 911 outage?

Emergency call systems in more than a dozen states went out for as long as an hour Monday night, with only rumors circulating as to which company is to blame. Police departments responded by notifying their Twitter followers and sharing 10-digit phone numbers that could be used instead of 911. Speculation abounds as to the exact cause of the widespread incident, with one lead coming from a statement from Lumen blaming an unnamed "vendor partner." Colin Wood has the story.


Tweaking Baltimore's transit system

A new project led by a group of Maryland universities and state agencies will use several digital platforms, including mobile applications and online dashboards, to collect data on the travel patterns of 1,000 city residents. The so-called BALTO project will feed that data into computational models that can predict how various initiatives would affect existing transit metrics. Organizers said they're particularly interested in improving transit in the city's low-income neighborhoods. “We need to view these performance metrics through an equity lens,” said Celeste Chavis, an associate professor at Morgan State University. Ryan has more.


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Ohio’s CIO on state’s agility and innovation during COVID-19

Ervan Rodgers says that from an IT standpoint, there has been a great deal of collaboration between state agencies and the vendor community to provide citizen services. This includes working to implement AI tools, such as chatbots to augment the state’s ability to answer common questions from its constituency. From a cost-savings perspective, it’s important that the government look to these types of innovations to show they are good stewards of taxpayer dollars, Rodgers says. Listen to the full conversation.


Sacramento launches free Wi-Fi initiative

Sacramento, California, Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced this week the city will provide 10,000 households with free broadband internet. The program, run in partnership with the United Way and Comcast, is to fund internet service for households containing seniors or school-aged children and also to provide free devices, such as laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots, for 1,000 individuals or families across the city. “This program will specifically target individuals who lack adequate access and resources due to COVID-19, have needs which are unmet by existing resources and historically face barriers to digital resources and knowledge,” said Maria MacGunigal, the city’s chief information officer. Read on.


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Google exec Mike Daniels on how states responded to the pandemic

In a video interview, Google Cloud’s VP of Global Public Sector Mike Daniels outlines how the company helped states in their COVID-19 response — from chatbots to complete revamps of unemployment systems. Daniels, who is also a StateScoop 50 award winner, oversees the cloud company’s initiatives across global government sectors. See the interview here.


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