Across states, local government and higher education, no segment of information technology was untouched by the coronavirus pandemic. Even with vaccines on the horizon, government and education sectors alike continue to grapple with the many challenges presented by 2020.
Nine months on, the health crisis’ most immediate effects on technology’s use in government and education are familiar, if not comfortable: remote work and distance learning remain the norm; officials must develop new ways to bring vital services to needy residents when public health guidelines restrict face-to-face interaction; and the pandemic’s upheaval of how an already bitter presidential election continues to generate dangerous misinformation weeks after the results became apparent.
But there have also been many lessons this year. Cities have overhauled how they engage their residents with services like food assistance and internet access, colleges and universities are figuring out how to educate their students while trying to stave off financial disaster and, after another year full of punishing ransomware attacks, state and local governments are inching closer to a goal of getting permanent federal support for their cybersecurity activities.
And in compiling this end-of-year special report, which will be updated in the days following its initial publication, StateScoop and EdScoop reporters also reached out to IT leaders, election administrators and education officials to hear — in their own words — what this year has meant to them and the work that they do.