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State CIOs emphasize public safety communications, cyber info sharing

With priorities ranging from next-gen 911, to FirstNet, to fusion centers focused on collaboration, state chief information officers are an essential piece of the public safety puzzle nationwide.

Jake Williams
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Jake Williams Associate Publisher & Director of Strategic Initiatives

Jake Williams is currently the Associate Publisher & Director of Strategic Initiatives for StateScoop, based in Washington, D.C., where h...

Technology leaders at the state government level are taking a deeper interest in how public safety-related projects roll out — especially in an era of increased collaboration around initiatives like cybersecurity and communications technology.

“Public safety has gotten to be an interesting field,” Tony Young, Wyoming’s chief information officer, says in a video interview with StateScoop, adding that everything is shifting to a digital environment.

For Young in Wyoming, the movement of public safety into a more digital-first realm has brought new concerns and opportunities to the state government's network. There are new network endpoints that can pose a security risk, but also opportunities to provide benefit for state entities beyond just those affiliated with public safety.

“Recently, areas where we’ve not had any exposure in the past — for example, security cameras — have not been a part of our systems or networks or core services that we’ve provided,” Young says. “But now we see that differently.”

In his state, Young says the state legislature has stepped in and asked the central technology office to help maintain and modernize the governance and security structure for those cameras, as well as other public safety projects like alarm systems and other security logs.

“We find ourselves working together more and more collaboratively to figure out solutions for the cameras and problems in all of our institutions,” Young says. “Now we’re protecting assets...so it’s becoming a big expanded field, and we’re entering that one full force, frankly.”

In Connecticut, the state’s technology office is helping with the final bid of the state’s criminal justice information system.

“That [system] is connecting together a broad array of constituencies with information and workflow,” Mark Raymond, the state’s chief information officer, says. “We’ve got our local police departments, our state police, our judicial branch, Department of Corrections, all being able to electronically share information. That’s really going to speed up the process of moving people through the system and make sure that first responders and people who are going into dangerous situations have the best information that they can before they go in.”

Equipping first responders with the right information is also a priority in Delaware, state CIO James Collins says in a video interview. In his state, that also means providing citizens a new opportunity to provide as much information to law enforcement, especially in dangerous situations.

“We launched text-to-911 in the state of Delaware,” Collins says. “The theme is 'call if you can, text if you can’t.'”

The preference, Collins says, is to call the traditional 911 call center, but in some situations texting provides a valuable alternative.

“We think this is technology that is absolutely going to save lives in Delaware,” Collins says.

In this video:

  • Darryl Ackley, chief information officer, New Mexico
  • Eric Boyette, chief information officer, North Carolina
  • James Collins, chief information officer, Delaware
  • Mark Raymond, chief information officer, Connecticut
  • Tony Young, chief information officer, Wyoming

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